How I Refill My Cup

 

 

I spent an entire year preparing for the last 2 weeks of my life. A time of my life that I look forward to starting from the time it ends. Jeff and I started hunting 3 years ago and how I lived my entire life without it, I have no idea – much like fishing. We spend 2 weeks every September camped up in the mountains with his best friend in search of ourselves and elk. This year has been rough for me with studying for my CPA. I can’t explain how much more horrible studying is than going to school, but trust me, I’m a different person because of this (and not for the better) and it will probably take me years to become the original person that I was after the pressure and stress of my CPA are long gone. I needed this elk trip more than I even knew.

I was hesitant about going because it’s 2 weeks with no service and I literally hunt from before the sun comes up to when the sun goes down…….how can I take 2 weeks off from studying? Well, I did and it was AMAZING. In addition to hunting, I watched my best friend get married on opening day and finished my vacation with a trip to the river. My cup is overflowing with gratitude and peace. My relationship with God is stronger than ever and I don’t really care today that studying hasn’t been the number one thing on my mind and for a brief moment, it wasn’t the most important thing in my life.

I struggled this hunting season with many things and while I came home reborn, it took a few days of depression and regret to get there. I learn every year that without the bad, there is no good; without the rain, the sun doesn’t feel so good; without the devil, you don’t see how great God is. I headed up the mountain on day 2 of the season and Jeff got one down that morning. There was excitement both for his accomplishment and because we will eat this year! But there was jealousy and pressure to keep up with my teammate. Hunting brings out some of my greatest fears: heights, my lack of strength, the dark, scary animals, being lost, car accidents, and myself. I stayed on the ground although our greatest opportunity was tree stands 30ft up. After 5 days and an insane amount of pressure, I finally caved and admitted that to get close enough to an elk this archery season, I was going to need to climb a tree…….And I DID IT! I got myself up there in the dark and hunted several stands over a few days. I wasn’t given the opportunity, but the feeling of accomplishing my fears is what put the last drop in my cup. I felt like a million dollars! It wasn’t easy and I was exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally. My body ached from the adrenaline all day long, my mind was tired from talking myself through sitting there all day long despite the wind or creeks, and I was emotionally drained from going from such a negative space to such a positive one.

         

I ended the season back on the ground and without an animal, but what I accomplished and came home with was worth far more than a few hundred pounds of meat (of course because we’ll come home with that anyways).

Now, for what you guys really care about! I spent a day cleaning and unpacking and then went fishing!!!!! FINALLY, back on the water! It was a SLOW morning and I hadn’t seen a single fish hooked or a bobber down and it was 2 pm. Finally, my float goes down! I set the hook and my line wraps around the tip of my rod as I feel the pulse of a fish on the other end. CRAP! As I’m trying to twist and turn my rod before the tip breaks, I’m certain the fish will lose itself. And I start to reel, I feel the weight again. WHAT?! This little king whooped my behind taking several long runs to the snags and 3 leaps out of the water. We finally got it in the net and just when I thought I couldn’t be more full, I began overflowing with happiness. My life is complete in this very moment.

I was just telling my mom the day before that this year, fishing has almost been more stress than relief. Because I didn’t get to go as much, I had less opportunity which meant less fish caught. I grew jealous of those that got to fish all the time like I used to and even more jealous when they would have good fish days. Getting up early wasn’t worth it if I wasn’t going to catch fish and I started only going when conditions were in my favor. Without the reward of the catch, I wasn’t getting what I needed anymore and the pressures of knowing that I could be studying weighed so heavy on my mind that it wasn’t worth it.

But today, it would have been worth it either way and now it was REALLY worth it. I got one! The only one so far! We still had many miles of water left and the tide was changing to our advantage. We ended up filling the boat within another hour and were out! So happy. So full. So peaceful. So grateful – for life.

Today, I opted out of deer hunting to sleep in, clean my house, and blog and while I regret it a little bit, I’ll also study so it’s a nice way to ease back into my regular schedule and pressure to study. I’m back but I’m rejuvenated and feeling ready to take on my next exam!

VIP Outdoors Fish Like a Girl Tournament

I don’t even know where to begin with such a spectacular weekend so I guess I’ll work backwards to my favorite part :)

I was completely satisfied with my weekend and had actually forgotten that I hadn’t studied for almost 3 full days. I’m paying for it now, but I’ve barely been fishing this year and when I did go, there was an immense amount of pressure and guilt on my mind to make sure I studied every time my rod wasn’t in the water. In case anyone doesn’t know, I’ve been studying for my CPA since January and have yet to pass any exams sooooo…….Only 4 more exams to go! I needed this weekend more than I thought I knew.

Sunday, I was tired; I was exhausted; I was almost lethargic. I was on an entirely different level of tired where I couldn’t even fall asleep, and speaking words seemed to be too much effort for my body. It took me a few hours and a Rockstar to snap out of it and it was just in time for me to catch a fish!

Herb and Andrew had already landed a few and I lost a nice one that took me out over 100 feet on the surface of the water. I finally got on one that I was able to land and my energy level rose to its normal level. Back to the laughs, stories, and keeping the gear fishing! We ended up hooking quite a few more and everyone except Jeff got fish; although that’s completely by his choice because he usually just likes to see fish landed.

It’s rare that we spend a lot of time of photos because we all just want to either be getting our stuff back in the water, or eating LOL. But Andrew always makes sure to take awesome pictures and knows the value of a good shot. I was sooooo excited about this fish not only because I got to land 2 really nice ones, but because this picture is one of my favorites!

I got to hang out with my best fishing buddies Andrew, Herb, and of course Jeff and the day couldn’t have been better in my mind.

Now, for my really fun part of my weekend…….The Fish Like a Girl Tournament!

Pro Escobedo with VIP Outdoors reached out to Willie Boats with an unreal idea last year. They were on board and this was the second year that Pro was able to carry on with this event. Sarah Dodd from Reel Women of Fishing NW actually won last year and it’s been great to see her taking out her cute pink/black brand new boat to new adventures.

Pro spoke about why he started this and what it means to him and it hit close to home for me. When I started fishing, there weren’t really any girls that I knew that fished other than fly fishing (and I didn’t know those girls anyways). There weren’t many companies that made stuff that worked for me and I got a lot of strange looks on the water – This is why Steelhead Girls was created! Years later, through the power of social media, I have found A TON of girls just like me! We fish with our spouses, friends, solo, & strangers just because we love to fish. I don’t have to try to be “one of the guys” because I’m not an outsider anymore……….I’m one of the girls who loves to fish and there are so many just like me. This is why Pro started this derby. We connect and bond in a way that we can’t with men. We support each other just because we are women and we know what it’s like to feel like a woman in a man’s world.

This Tournament means getting to meet complete strangers or have a reason to fish with your best gal pals. Most of us don’t have a bunch of girlfriends that fish so events like this is how we meet and find one another. Plus, we can win a wicked BRAND NEW DRIFT BOAT!

I didn’t win the new Willie drift boat, but Jessica Goering did win and it was well deserved with a 31lb fish caught with guide Shea Fisher.

Shea owns and operates The Fishere Fishing Guide Service and is the beau of our very own fellow lady angler, Kristin Bishop with Reel Women of Fishing NW. He has a few dates left this B10 season (8/16, 8/18, & 8/19) so if you’re looking for a last minute trip, he clearly knows how to catch the big fish! 425.577.9445

There were so many friendships created and SO MANY FISH!

Vydellity Anderson

Kristin Bishop

Amy Spoon (who also had tuna and sturgeon trips all in a few short days)

Ashley on a trip with Brandon earlier in the tournament

Janae with a nice one!

Lizz Mullong getting things handled with Brandon Glass!

I only got to fish the last day, but I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls or guide to spend the day with. We had all met before through various places and events and this is actually the SECOND time we all got to fish together this summer. We are 6 very different girls that come from different states, backgrounds, ages, fishing experience, and jobs! Other than being girls in our 20’s and 30’s that love to fish, we probably wouldn’t have much in common looking from the outside in. I’m not the most outgoing person in real life but I feel so comfortable around these girls, it’s like they were meant to be in my life.

Jamie Lebon – the chill, down to earth, starts her drinking before breakfast, not a bad thing to say about anyone kind of girl

Morgan Nicks – The girl who’s eyes light up like a little kid on Christmas morning when she tells you about her favorite type of fishing

Jessica Jenner – Always smiling and laughing, outgoing sweet girl that is so eager to learn as much as she can about fishing

Kari Smith – One of the first ladies that I found loves fishing just like me who is always the life of the party and down to fish and hunt whatever, whenever

Ashley Chaudiere – The Ice Princess, Hockey playing girl with the million watt smile that fits in with everyone, boy or girl, and always has a funny story to share

And me – The one who turns into a 6 year old child when the boat gets on plane and crashes through the current

And of course, Brandon Glass although he’s clearly not one of the girls LOL.

I fished with his dad, Jack Glass, a few years ago and was so happy to find out that Brandon was open the only day I could fish. His dad is basically a fishing legend and Brandon is following in his footsteps while creating his own legacy. Brandon greeted us first thing in the morning wearing his captain hat, bibs, and flip flops handing us mimosa’s before we even got on the boat. He knew us way to well.

Brandon fished us hard. He made every effort to put on fish and didn’t lose hope or show discouragement when we quickly realized that fishing had slowed down quite a bit from just 2 days before when several derby worthy fish were caught. I got to sit in the back and pick his brain and much like his dad, he was more than willing to entertain my curious mind.

We searched and searched and finally I hear “fish fish fish fish Bryanna fish!” I waited for the okay to grab it and he calmly walked me through the process and kept my nerves at ease. We got that beautiful fish in the net and I wasn’t sure if I should keep it. It wasn’t going to win the derby, but it was a perfect mid-teen’s hatchery URB that was going to have meat like a springer.

We kept the fish and I was more excited than I think I’ve ever been. I was literally beyond the point of emotion and had to stop talking a couple times because I felt the tears were coming. I’ve worked really hard the last few months and missed a lot of fishing trips and even missed the fulfillment when I did finally get out because of the guilt and pressure I felt for not studying every second I had. I’m not a lucky person and I usually feel that my fish are well deserved because of the time and effort that I put into fishing. I was the last person I expected to catch a fish like this and the whole day just seemed overwhelmingly fun. I took my victory shot and Morgan Nicks busted out her fancy-pants camera for me!

If you know Morgan (and if you don’t, you should go find her on Instagram or Facebook), you know that she takes beautiful pictures and knows how to capture the true beauty of a fish. She grabbed her camera right away and captured a few killer pictures for me.

Brandon continued to fish us hard and searched for action, switching bait/hardware, trying new depths, and even different places on the river. He entertained us for hours and fished us even later than it would have been possible to turn in a derby fish just because he wanted to get us some fish. Jessica landed a really nice coho that we had to release and had another bite that didn’t stick in the last hour of fishing.

The boat learned pretty early on that I really love boat rides. It’s something I never grew out of and the faster we go, harder we hit the waves, more air we catch in our seats, the more I laugh. The wind was blowing pretty well and the water was almost too rough to stand when trolling but we were all really excited for the boat ride back. Brandon made it worth our while and we all turned into laughing, squealing, little girls for the last 15 minutes as we made our way back to the dock.

We were off to the banquet with our hair and clothes soaked from the ride back in but we didn’t care. We were hungry, eager to see who won, and happy to have been blessed with such an amazing day fishing.

We hurried ourselves to the banquet and couldn’t wait to get our FISH CUTE hoodies at registration. A local and fellow fisherwoman started Fish Cute 3 years ago and its shot through the roof. In many states, she sells clothing that is made for women who want to actually look cute when fishing! She is constantly designing new items and having killer deals. Check out her items here:

http://fishcute.com/

Janae was able to bring along 3 youngsters that got to fish all 4 days!

There were SO MANY prizes to raffle off including Yeti product, rods, reels, fillet knives, huge spoons of fishing line, custom rods, gift cards, a million hats, a smoker, vacuum sealer, and so much more! Pro rounded up thousands of dollars’ worth of fishing stuff for all of us girls and made it worth our while even if we didn’t win the boat. There were guides, spouses, sponsors, and of course most of the ladies that participated and he had a great dinner for all us as well a bar for us to celebrate this amazing event. He was eager to get feedback on how to improve the event for future years so that we can keep encouraging and supporting the ladies that love to fish.

I can’t thank Pro enough for this event. This is why I feel welcomed in a man’s world. This is why I have a new group of girls that I can relate to. This is how I learn new fishing techniques, tips, and fisheries. I can’t wait for next year and we have already started planning our trip!

Thanks again to all the guides and sponsors that teamed up with Pro for the Second Annual Fish Like a Girl Tournament! I can’t wait to do this again and am so grateful for such an amazing opportunity!

Salmon Season

Fall salmon are upon us! We’ve taken a few quick trips to the Nisqually in the past couple of weeks and while it’s still a bit early for that river, it’s so close to home and it’s easy to make half day’s :)

Fishing has been a bit slow and we’re picking them up randomly via float fishing, divers, side drifting, you name it. I was a very happy girl when I picked this one up because it’s been since springer season that I caught a salmon or steelhead! It’s about time!

Buoy 10 this weekend for the Fish Like a Girl Tournament with Brandon Glass and a boat full of ladies! Good luck to all the ladies who are participating this year and I can’t wait to see who wins the boat!!

Third Annual Outdoor Chic Clique Trip!

Another successful Outdoor Chic Clique trip goes down in history! 2016 was our third trip out with Ken Culver on the Tequila Too in search of Rockfish, Lingcod, and salmon. Each year there are new girls and old girls, girls in their teens and girls in their 50’s, girls from Westport and girls from other states. New friendships are made and old friendships grow stronger. It’s once a year that we get to surround ourselves with other women who are there just to support each other.

Amy Spoon created The Outdoor Chic Clique Facebook group as a place where women can go to feel supported by one another and meet others who share their same passions. We get tips from one another, we share deals and new product information with one another, and most importantly, we create friendships.

Morgan, Amy, Ashley, Kari, Bryanna, and Jamie

5:30AM came early this year and the marina was full of groups of girls with huge smiles on their faces, and large coffees in their hands. There was a lot of pink and a lot of camo and a local fishing company called Fish Cute was very well represented. We bought our derby tickets and got ourselves situated on the boat as we got our first set of instructions of Captain Ken Culver. Off to get rockfish first!

As always, it was a quick and easy limit. The teamwork started right away as we helped each other get fish in the boat and get tangles undone. The deckhands had their work cut out for them today, although I’m sure they don’t complain much with a boat full of fun girls. We hit a few spots to find salmon and before the bait got to the appropriate depths, the deckhands sat back and watched our surprise as salmon started biting. There were a couple coho that were released without harm and quite a few kings that made it to the cooler.

Jessica with her rockfish!

Brittany, Ashley, and Kari with their rockfish!

Amy with her rockfish!

Amy, Bridgette, and Rachel with their rockfish!

Bryanna with her rockfish!

Debbie with her rockfish!

Jessica, Jamie, and Morgan

Brittany Church set the bar high with the first king to the boat which also won the derby for the day (wahoo!):

We moved around when the bite down fished with the current. We headed to areas where we could catch both lingcod and salmon and Ashley Chaudiere was the only one to get all 3 species in the boat:

As always, our crew was nothing less than amazing. The deckhands and even the captain were on board helping fish get in the net, keeping our hooks baited, and keeping us away from the other side of the boat – we seem to magnetically draw ourselves to each other. They worked relentlessly and didn’t just do the job. They took the time to teach us and show us. And even though they laugh at our steelhead hooksets, each year we get better and better. They help us feel fulfilled and accomplished no matter how annoying we might be; they don’t seem to mind.  We are so grateful that Ken has allowed us to take over his boat every year. They get to do this stuff every day, but they make it seem like a special trip for us. They know what it means to us and even though they did the same thing the day before and will do the same thing the next day, they continue to create a fun and exciting environment for us.

Rich teaching Amy how to bait the herring that was going to catch her the big one!

Bonus: A few of the girls (even one all the way from Canada) made a second trip with Kerry Allen with Offshore Northwest to catch some tuna the next day! These girls rock:

 

Here are a few things that a couple girls had to say about our trip:

From Morgan Nicks:

“I am beyond blessed to have gotten to know these talented women over the past few years! Social media definitely has its pros and cons, but it has allowed me connect to this hilarious, smart, adventurous, fun and crazy group of gals! Each of these women support each other and want to see the next succeed. There’s always friendly competition, but with these ladies it is so positive and uplifting! In a world of so much hate and sadness, it is a wonderful feeling being connected…” to so much happiness. I am constantly seeing amazing hunting and fishing posts from these women and I can’t help but get butterflies for them as if I was part of their day ☺️ Life is good in the PNW!

 

From Kari Smith:

“Fishing isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. I am so thankful I have so many wonderful ladies to share this adventure with!! From out of state to out of the country, The Outdoor Chic Clique has created bonds that can never be broken!! Thank you ladies for another amazing trip to Westport for bottom fish, ling cod and salmon with Ken Culver on the Tequila Too. Followed up by a second day trip offshore for some killer tuna fishing with Kerry Allen from Offshore Northwest!”


Thank you Amy for continuing to organize this and continuing to support other women! It’s because of you that we grow as anglers, as hunters, and as friends. Thank you to Ken Culver, Joel Krebs and Rich Graham (and we missed you Dan!) for giving us such a fun trip – These are memories that we’ll never forget! Thank you to all the girls that continue to support one another with our passions!