Ashley Anderson reels on the water when kayak-fishing

When Ashley Anderson first started kayak-fishing last summer, she was immediately hooked.
Ashley anderson smiling on her kayak
Photo by Nikki Hansen
Ashley Anderson

When Ashley Anderson first started kayak-fishing last summer, she was immediately hooked.

Her fiancé kayak-fished and she wanted a way to spend time with him. It started with kayaking and then she got into fishing. Now she’ll go out three to four hours almost every weekend in the warm months with her fishing rod in hand.

Anderson says she went fishing with her dad when she was little, but it’s new for her as an adult. Instead of buying a fishing kayak, Anderson rigged a traditional kayak herself so it could be used for casting lines. She brings ultralight gear on the kayak and prefers live bait, most often catching panfish. Outside of her gear, she often brings a life preserver, whistle, sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, hat, long-sleeved shirt, water, snacks, cooler and a Bluetooth speaker.

Anderson learned how to kayak-fish from two Wisconsin communities for women: Wisconsin Women Fish and Casting Queens.

Ashley anderson fishing in her kayak

Photo by Nikki Hansen

“If you’re a woman and you’re interested in getting into these types of sports, there’s just a huge support system through social media and through local organizations where you can find other women that are interested in helping you learn and that will have classes you can take on the internet,” Anderson says. “It’s a whole world out there as long as you’re willing to look and learn.”

Before she started she had no idea there was a community for women who fish. Out on the water, she sees mostly men fishing and kayaking. She started an Instagram account (@girlygills) where she connects to other women and provides advice on her kayak-fishing adventures.

“When you can help people understand that they could do what you’re doing because they might not think that they’re equipped and they might not think that there’s this bigger world of lots and lots of women participating, sometimes they just need to be shown that ‘hey this is a thing we can get out there and we can fish and we can make it our own,’ ” Anderson says.

If you’re considering the sport, Anderson recommends trying Lake Wingra, her favorite spot since it’s small enough to learn about the areas in the lake where you can find success. Lake Wingra also has several species of fish. She also recommends that beginners join Wisconsin Women Fish and Casting Queens to get information and connect with others.

Anderson recently moved from Madison to Jacksonville, Florida, but is still sharing her kayak fishing adventures online.

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