On the hook with Wendy Biles

The article shares the inspiring journey of a female angler navigating the world of competitive fishing, from bass boat tournaments to kayak fishing, while advocating for the representation and empowerment of women in the sport.

Introduction to Fishing

I grew up fishing with my dad and brother at a very young age and that hobby has always stuck with me. A few years ago, my son and husband began fishing the Bassmaster High School Series so I was spending a lot of time fishing off the back of the bass boat while they practiced for upcoming tournaments. I quickly started researching the Co-Angler position of bass boat tournaments and I became an MLF Marshal to accompany the Pros and learn the etiquette of the sport.

When COVID hit and boat ramps were closing, I needed a way to escape and fulfill my thirst for fishing. Thanks to social media, I quickly found kayak fishing and instantly made some amazing friends that I still have today. (Kristine Fisher was a huge inspiration and now we are best of friends!) I bought my first kayak (inexpensive) in 2020 and was sold on the tournament platform.

Later that same year, I upgraded and bought my first Old Town Sportsman 106 pedal drive and immersed myself so deeply with tournaments, joined the WFF (Women’s Fishing Federation), began posting my own pictures and videos that I was invited to join the Old Town Pro Staff!

Experiences and Challenges

I was used to fishing with guys my whole life but it’s different going out alone in a kayak. Not only do I need to keep my personal safety on the water at the forefront of my mind, but also loading/unloading my kayak at the sometimes “shady” boat ramps. Fortunately, the 2 trail series that I compete in (only 1 other female) has the most supportive, kind and even protective group of guys I’ve ever met. Because of my confidence in the friends I have made, I now can travel long distances by myself for pre-fishing and tournaments because I know I have a group of guys I can call upon if I need help or assistance.

Being a female, I was sometimes offered “free advice” from the group on bodies of water I’ve never been to, but after competing for almost 3 years and achieving some great finishes against the best kayak anglers in Florida, I have earned the respect and accolades from the group and can stand on my own experience, tactics and skills when competing in a tournament. They are not so quick to offer any tips anymore! 

Personal Achievements

Besides landing the 10-pounder in a tournament that I mentioned earlier! I take great pride and honor when I’m asked to be a part of a Pro Staff and represent a company/product that I believe in. I love taking pictures and making videos and I’m able to provide creative content featuring these products while I’m out in my kayak fishing. It’s my way of giving back and showing appreciation for providing me with perks/benefits/products.

I also get to answer questions that potential buyers might have about the products that I use. Social media/content creating gives me a way to capture and preserve the memories I make while enjoying my passion of fishing. It’s a win-win for both myself and the company I represent. I’ve done a couple of on-the-water interviews/shoots to provide magazines with articles and content that I enjoyed doing so much. I also love talking about fishing! I am scheduled to do a radio show soon called The Angler’s Edge and I am super excited!

Representation and Visibility

In keeping with the positive momentum of women in fishing, I would love to see more advertisements and sponsorship opportunities showing women proving their skills. I would love to figure out a way to show that fishing is unique in that we are on equal ground with our male competitors because fishing does not rely on muscle or strength to be successful like some other sports. We can compete completely on an even playing field with our knowledge, skills and abilities. I would also like to see more teaching/educational resources for younger girls to be introduced to the sport.

There is no doubt that there is an uptick in the acceptance and representation of women in the fishing industry compared to the days of watching the Bassmaster tournaments on TV as a child. It is so exciting to not only see women succeeding in fishing, but more women are getting sponsors and recognition for their abilities in this great sport. This makes me so excited and inspires me to keep working hard on my skills and that maybe I can find my place in this great sport.

Advice for Aspiring Female Anglers

Pursue fishing like you would any other sport. Dream big and chase those dreams by putting in the work and practicing every chance you get. Indulge in the endless resources that can be found on YouTube, social media, grassroots tournaments and conferences. Whether you just enjoy the therapeutic benefit of being in nature while fishing or you want to learn, grow and compete in the sport, there IS a place for you!

You can follow Wendy on Facebook: Wendy McIntyre Biles, and Instagram: Wendy_Biles_Fishing