Three Lessons I Have Learned as a Woman in the Fishing Industry
1) If you don’t have thick skin develop it!
If you're walking into a captain’s meeting as the only girl in the tournament, hold your head high, girl. Or, if you’re hearing the critical opinion of others after a tournament win, brush it off and keep moving forward. You can’t let what people say bother you. Even as they criticize, take what they are saying and listen; you don’t have to act on it.
Sometimes people will give you great advice and most of the time it’s just their opinion. I have been told many things since fishing in tournaments my 8th grade year.
Even the tournament director heard people talking and leaned over to me and said, "Don’t worry about those boys. They don’t like getting beat by a girl. In the next year they will be chasing you around trying to get your attention.” That man was spot on. 100% accurate. So, right now you’re wondering, did I go out on a date with one of those boys when he asked me, a year after that tournament? Heck no.
2) It’s a technique.
Don’t think you can’t throw that 16 lb. cast net, because you can. Do your research and practice. There are many different techniques and there is one that will work for you. You will find techniques that not only work with throwing the net, but with fishing as well. I was 110 lbs. and caught a world record tarpon at 178 lbs. I fought it for about 50 minutes with proper technique to land the fish. There is a way to angle the rod and put pressure on the fish, to prevent the fish from rolling and gulping air, shortening the fight time.
All these things I have learned either by doing or by being mentored by other captains. Again, remember, not everything will work for you. It’s a matter of going out and trying things to develop your personal style. Do your research, practice hard, and learn from people more experienced from you.
3) Do what’s right for the right reasons, no matter what!
This is really a life lesson, but in the fishing industry being a girl means all eyes are on you. If you’re going into fishing for attention or for the wrong reasons, then your heart is not in the right place. You can’t fake fishing and if you try to, the fishing industry can sniff you out. So, don’t do it if it’s just attention you’re after.
Otherwise, go for it with all of your heart. Push through the opinions of others and just keep showing your love for what you do. Over time, and as you gain knowledge, you will conquer each goal for your ultimate dream whether it is your captain’s license or a trophy fish. More and more ladies are getting out there, and we must band together and help each other.
This isn’t about taking over the industry, this is about joining the industry. You will find that the majority of the fishing industry will welcome you with open arms and help you every step of the way, if you are doing what’s right for the right reasons.
We are all here to support each other and our passions, no matter the gender. We all have our own battles to fight and our own fish to catch. I urge all of you to keep chasing this passion hard, That is when the magic happens! These are just a few lessons that being a female in this industry has taught me. I hope it inspires a couple more ladies out there to keep going or simply get on the water for the first time!
Founded in 2015, Chastenation was founded by Chasten Whitfield. Chasten is a 19 year old angler who proves “it’s more than just fishing.” Her mission is to help kids of all ages, especially girls, become comfortable anglers while teaching positive life skills, thoughtfulness, doing what’s right for the right reasons, and choosing to stay active outdoors. It’s not about what you look like or outside appearance, what matters is what’s inside. She is actively working with some local tournaments to include kid divisions as well as girls/ladies divisions, all in hopes this will encourage more kids to fish as well as families to fish as “a family.” Chasten promotes conservation and helping to teach kids and adults fishing seminars. Join us to fish, learn, teach and give back; a reel girl can tackle anything.