5 Things I Learned While Fishing the Women’s Tarpon Fly Fishing Tournament in Islamorada Florida, by Katie Fiedler Anderson

The only lesson I wanted, was how to catch more fish, faster. These are not the lessons I wanted or asked for, but these are the lessons I received.

Tarpon Fishing is Wildly Humbling.

 

1. I learned to be more confident.

If you ask my friends, I am the confident one, so it’s almost laughable that this was my first lesson. I wanted to strap my first fish; it was borderline. My guide said to me “no, we will catch a bigger one” #jinx.

Later, regret set in when I saw a photo of the one and only strap in the competition back at the dock. It didn’t look any bigger than the fish I had?! Now I had a lot of room to second guess myself. It would be easy to blame my guide. But he’s not the one doubting himself, I am.

At the end of the day, I should have strapped that fish, if for nothing else, so that I could learn to judge fish size better. It doesn’t matter what the outcome was; it’s better than doubt and wonder! Therefore, I could be more confident.

 

2. Celebrate the little victories.

Tarpon fishing is tough. Not easy. Truly. Especially if you’re a trout-aholic.

There’s the strip set, don’t move your rod tip, bow to the king, all of these unnatural rules that I want to conquer, only to find have your line wrap around the reel, or your hook falls out after 45 minutes when the fish flips.

This sport would suck without celebrating small wins.

So here I am, writing an article about tarpon fishing, even though I didn’t win the tournament. I came in 3rd, 4th, and 5th the three years I competed. I’m not the champion, but I haven’t come in last place either.

 

3. It’s ok to want good things for other women.

This was maybe the new Mom in me, letting me soften to the experience. The competitor in me wants to win no matter what. However, if I pause and think about the caliber of women in this competition, calling me their competition- that’s lifting me up.

If I look around at this community we are building, of dominant strong women - well hell, that’s so freaking cool. If you look at the score board with numbers rivaling the Gold Cup - then I surely can’t take credit for that on my own!

Yes, I want to win, but big picture; I want to celebrate and cheer on these other women. They are good company, and my mama always told me to keep good company.

 

4. I am somehow inspiring - even though I am a loser.

When I leave that competition, and I head back to my little trout paradise in Colorado; it’s always a bit of a jolt to be back in the “dick fest” I call home. Nonetheless, I’ve somehow made an impact, as I am giving my dad’s friends advice on tarpon fishing, or I get a giggle out of some other guides when I bow to a trout jumping.

I’m not re-writing history, but I’m like “water running over a rock”, making female fly anglers legit and normal.

 

5. Pumping on the boat is only awkward if you let it be.

I have to paint my thought process on how I gained this perspective.

I fished in 2016, pregnant. I peed a lot. I mean a lot. It was weird, but I thought that was better than peeing my pants!

2017; I had to pump. I talked with my guide about the dudes that took dumps in the backcountry to make myself feel better. At least what I was doing was to benefit another being.

But yeah- I just want to talk about it for all the other mama’s out there. It was hot, sticky, and came with an internal dialogue that was humbling.

Cue the alternative internal dialogue, which is what I would tell my best friend. “You know the sound of the pump has to be a little bit more soothing than a dude farting his bad life choices into the ocean. Right?!”

 

 

 

 

 

Catch more of Katie's adventures at: https://www.instagram.com/katie.fiedler.anderson/