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Florida Sportswoman

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Featured Lady Angler
Alissa Vinoski | Tampa, FL

When I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandfather on a small island in Beaufort, South Carolina. I started fishing off his dock, and I typically caught baby sharks or stingrays…creatures that I was too scared to hold at such a young age. Eventually I grew some thick skin and I learned how to rig my own rods, catch and hook my own bait, and handle fish like a champ. I lived in Washington, D.C. for most of my life, where I tried my best to catch fish while away from the island. In turn, my trips to SC were sporadic and not often enough to gain any major experience on the water.


Upon moving to the state of Florida in 2006, I immediately became more serious about fishing. I started with freshwater, and I was pretty happy catching bass for a while, but I knew there was a potential to catch many different species of fish in the waters surrounding Tampa. I transitioned to saltwater fishing fairly easily. I was mostly stuck fishing from the shore or wade fishing, but I learned a lot in a short period of time. I strived to learn as much as possible and everything was intriguing to me, seeing as I’d always had a passion for fish and anything ocean related.


My grandfather, the one who started my love of fishing, gifted me a small plastic canoe. Within a year, I upgraded to something bigger and more able. To suit the style of fishing that I primarily do, I looked at technical poling skiffs. It didn’t take long for me to find the right one, and in February 2012, I purchased a 2012 Ankona Cayenne. I get a kick out of the expressions on peoples' faces while I prep, launch, and load my skiff at the ramps!


On any given day, you can find me on the water in Tampa Bay, searching for redfish, snook and trout. Depending on the environment and the fish I'm targeting, I will either use live bait, work artificials, or throw a fly rod. I have travelled with the boat to the Keys, Flamingo, Miami, Ft. Pierce and Titusville. I have my fingers crossed that in time I will get the opportunity to catch many more species (I have a bucket list that I’m working on, more on that later…) and simply enjoy the experiences of being a boat owner!


I have met so many awesome people since I have joined the fishing community. A good friend from high school was instrumental in expanding my fishing knowledge. He's a lifelong resident of the state and guides out of Tampa Bay on a regular basis. Microskiff.com and other angling sites like Skifflife.com have allowed me to make connections in the industry, as well as make friends across the state. Surprisingly, Facebook has also introduced me to hundreds of people in this community…I've made some lifelong friends, experienced amazing fishing trips, and built wonderful memories along the way.


As a female angler, I find it sometimes challenging to be taken seriously.Fishing is undisputedly a male dominated sport, and though it can be frustrating, I find it fun and rewarding to achieve the same results as the guys. The longer I fish, the more credibility I earn, and I'm happy to receive the respect that follows. I find that I'm always pushing myself to do better. I have checked multiple species off my bucket list, but I have many more to go. This year I would love to fight and land a bonefish, permit, and tarpon. For a change of pace, however, I will be traveling to Austria this summer for a wedding. I plan to take some time to learn the rivers and streams. I will be bringing a fly rod, some flies, my camera, and a goal of landing my first freshwater trout.


My ultimate goal is to share my passion for fishing, along with the outdoors, and express this through writing and photography. How cool would it be to travel the world as a fishing photo journalist? In time, I hope to have the opportunity to accomplish these goals. I'm confident that with the continued help and support of others, I will be able to grow, learn, and further develop my fishing skills.

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Photo Gallery

Chasing the Silver King
by Harriet Simmons of Jacksonville, FL

It began in July, 2010 - my “mission” to catch a Tarpon.  I was on my first trip to the Keys.  I was with my now fiance, Eric Durham,  in Key Colony Beach, Marathon Key.  He and I had dated when I was in high school then went our separate ways only to reconnect a couple of years ago.  Until that trip I had never experienced a Tarpon. I  had fished a lot when I was little, but mostly for Bream and the occasional Bass.  Since our reunion, we had been inshore fishing in is boat,  numerous times around Jacksonville, catching mostly Redfish, Black Drum, Flounder and Trout.  So, one morning, in the Keys, we were fishing in the Vaca Cut, the Tarpon were rolling all around us.  Because they were everywhere, I thought they would be “easy to catch”.   The anticipation of catching one of these fish was huge.  I hooked 4 that morning, “hooked” being the key word.  All 4 either broke the leader or spit the hook.  The last one was almost close enough to touch.  Eric told me that hooking 4 was an accomplishment in itself, but I didn’t accept that.  It was then I realized how elusive these fish are and what an accomplishment it would be if I could ever really catch one.


Our next trip to the Keys, in 2011, was even more frustrating than the last.  The Tarpon teased us every day.   We returned to Jacksonville with a lot of Mahi-Mahi, but without hooking one Tarpon.  My mission now starting to verge on obsession.  Eric urged me to contact a friend who is a local guide, Captain Roger Perry Bump, Jr..  I did and he assured me he could deliver on my Tarpon mission/obsession. 

We set out, on his boat, at sunrise, August 13, 2011.   We headed to a little inlet to catch our bait for the day.  After netting about ten 10 to12 inch Mullet we moved to his secret spot.  Captain Roger told us he had a good feeling about the day.  I prayed his feeling was right.  When we got to the spot, we caught a glimpse of one or two Tarpon rolling, but had no hits.  So, we moved to a different spot.  It was about 11 a.m. when we arrived.  The Tarpon were rolling!!  YES!  You could feel the excitement on the boat as we were actually surrounded by them.  Minutes after casting Eric had a hit!  He had hooked one!  But, as he was reeling it in,  the leader broke. NO!  We were crushed - but not for long.  Suddenly, I felt a hit!  It was like nothing I had ever experienced thus far.  It hit so hard it would have snatched the rod out of my hands had I not been paying attention.  The screaming sound of that braided line tearing off the reel and the drag trying to slow it down as the Tarpon ran with my Mullet was music to my ears.  I fought the 70 pound fish for about 20 minutes - letting him run, then reel, run, and reel  before finally getting him to the boat.  My right arm felt numb and was throbbing from holding onto the rod. 20 minutes seemed like hours, but there was no way I was going to hand that rod off to anyone else - that was MY fish! Since we couldn’t take the Tarpon from the water without a Tarpon Tag, Captain Roger swung the boat around to the marsh area in the middle of the creek.  I quickly jumped in the water and grabbed that big fish that I had worked so hard for.  Eric and Captain Roger started snapping pictures.  The fish was tired-he had fought a good fight, but I had prevailed in the end.  After several pictures were taken I held him in the water while he regained his strength and then we watched him quietly swim away.  

It was a  great feeling holding such a majestic fish, knowing I had finally caught one of those (not so) “easy to catch” Tarpon.  For me, catching a Tarpon was truly an experience of a lifetime and something I am very proud of.  Mission accomplished!

Guideline to Adventure
by Lisa Montgomery of Palm Bay, FL

I’m Lisa Montgomery and as of 10 years ago with my first serious fishing trip I fell in love with sports fishing. I went to Alaska and was in a remote and pristine region. My family and I had no distractions. There was the sheer beauty of the earth and sea - friendly, kind people – IT CHANGED MY LIFE.


Why? Because sports fishing is not just about the fishing.  It is about your friends or the people you meet on the boat.  It is about the captain and crew that are great with people working hard for the best fishing day you’ve ever experienced.  It is about the travel to get there, the great food, and the dead sleep at the end of the day.  It is also about the photos taken and the experience you have with Mother Earth. 


My favorite place to fish in Alaska is Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge in Old Harbor on Kodiak Island.  The lodge is comfortable with a great staff, fantastic food and the best fishing in Alaska!  Fishing 30 miles of straights for king salmon, halibut, ling cod, silver salmon, yellow eye, and sea bass makes for great days of wildlife viewing on the banks and in the water.  This is a wonderful trip to take during the heat of the summer and to get away from it all.  Your cell phone won’t work here!


Costa Rica is another beautiful place with an abundance of sailfish, marlin, tuna, wahoo, dorado, rooster fish, cubera snapper and many types of Jack fish.  My preference is Los Suenos Resort and Marina as the fishing is great, run times are only an hour to the offshore fishing and there are many amenities for those that don’t fish.  Face it, who is going to let you go to Costa Rica in the cold of the winter and leave them behind?  If you get your fill of fishing there are multiple adventures in the neighboring rain forest to keep you busy!

I now have the daily pleasure sharing these experiences by speaking, blogging and sending new friends to the most beautiful places in the world. If there is an adventure you would like to take, let me know and I’ll find the experience you are looking for – and that will your ‘trip of a lifetime’ and a beautiful memory for years to come.




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Kayak Fishing
by Dee Kaminski of Melbourne Beach, FL

Not many women can say that they are a full time female kayak fishing guide. More and more women are getting into paddle sports and fishing. Fishing is being viewed as not just a man’s sport anymore. I have fallen in love with kayak fishing so much so that I took the initiative to start my own kayak fishing guide service several years ago to share my passion and knowledge with others. I started Reel Kayak Fishing Charters (http://www.reelkayakfishing.com). There is nothing more thrilling than watching a another person who you helped to learn the sport of kayak fishing stalk, land a monster redfish, snook, gator trout or black drum, maybe take a quick photo, then release the catch. My local playground is the Northern Indian River and Banana River Lagoons down to the Sebastian Inlet area, which I hold in great respect. And in return I have experienced some exceptional fishing. Just fantastic!


At a young age, I was always fishing out of a canoe or a rowboat with my parents who were avid fishermen, fishing the lakes of Ontario, Canada 3 months out of a year where my family had a cabin. When I moved to Melbourne Beach, Florida, I learned to surf fish and I fished from a pier but I felt frustrated because I was land locked. I could not get my line out to where the birds were diving into the bait pods and knowing the big fish were just under them. Something was missing. My answer was a kayak.


I made a list of all the requirements a woman like myself would look for in a kayak. I found my perfect kayak in the Native Watercraft Ultimates.  They are lightweight so I can carry and load them without help, durable, configurable (best seats ever), great looking and most importantly, stable. I can stand and site cast to feeding fish without spooking them! There aren’t any fuel bills and a quick rinse of the kayak is the only maintenance it requires. Kayak fishing covers less of the same water as a boat but clients learn to fish it more methodically and with better results. You can access skinny waters where other crafts can’t and the combination of a stealthy approach and a proper presentation angle will help catch more and bigger fish. You can’t beat that.

Teaching for me is the most important part of my job. Most of my clients are people that want to get into the sport and my job is to teach them what they need to know to be comfortable to get back out there on their own. I gear the day toward what each client needs to learn. We cover everything from basic paddling skills, kayak rigging, and techniques specific to fishing from a kayak. Also covered is rigging for landing specific fish and the techniques used for presenting lures, soft plastics, hard baits. For those of you that prefer fishing with live baits like pinfish and shrimp, that is covered as well.


Native Watercraft approached me after they heard about me and they asked if I would be their first woman Native Watercraft Endorsed Kayak Fishing Guide. "Of course I would!!" Soon after, I was asked to be on the Pro Staff of 12 Fathom lures (http://www.12fathom.com) and The Edje Joe from Fish On Lures (http://www.captainjoefishing.com) and am a regular on Kayak Fishing Radio on Thursday nights (http://www.kayakfishingradio.com).

Tournament fishing can be very exciting but I don’t participate as much as I would like. I am kept busy guiding or preparing for a charter. However, the few I have fished, I placed in the top 3. I found that they a great place to meet other anglers and share information. Most are usually charity tournament where I can give back at the same time. Most tournaments include a division for Lady Anglers; however, I like to shoot for the big prizes. It makes it more challenging and I love to see the reactions of the male anglers when a woman has won. Some women anglers are just as good if not better that many male anglers. I think we have the right touch.

It’s not always all about fishing though. Being in a kayak brings you closer to nature and even become part of the environment. On a typical outing, we can experience dolphin, manatee, otters, sea turtles, raccoons and many of the Florida species of birds from just a few feet away. A fishing charter is also an eco-tour wrapped up into one.

When you are ready to “Catch the Thrill” and experience Florida’s nature and wildlife, contact me. You can find information on my charter service on the Internet at http://www.reelkayakfishing.com or you can call me at 321.394.6874.

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