I love anglers who show their love for fishing. Heather aka Fishtress is one of those anglers. I also have a love for small boats and Heather fills us in not only on her fishing but also the construction of her fishing machine.
One of the many things I love about following your page is how much of an advocate you are for women getting involved in the sport of fishing. What do you feel are the keys to increasing the amount of lady anglers on the water?
I think it’s important for women to be involved and feel comfortable in the outdoors. The joy of nature is missed out on by so many women, it’s really a shame! The biggest key in my opinion to increasing the amount of Lady anglers on the water is encouragement. I try to show women that you can have fun fishing and also be successful! I fished a small boat/kayak tournament trail this year, I was the only female angler and I finished 3rd in points overall out of about 20 anglers! It was my first year fishing on my own. I hope that by sharing my experiences on the water, other women will see that we can do it too and join in on the fun.
Another thing I love is that every fish pic of yours, regardless of size, includes a great smile. How do you put into words the joy that fishing brings to your life?
Fishing IS my life! It’s my passion for many reasons. Fishing gets me outside. I truly find nature to be amazing. I enjoy seeing all the critters, the stunning sunrises and sunsets and all the other things you won’t see sitting inside. To me, nature is where I find peace in my life, it’s a chance to get away, to be with your own thoughts and reset. I always laugh when people make fun of sunset pictures saying the bite must have been slow! If you aren’t enjoying something like a sunset while fishing, you’re really missing out!
Fishing is also about catching, let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love catching fish?? When you toss your lure out and feel that tick at the end of the line it’s so exciting! Whether it’s a rollerskate or a big ol pig, I think they’re all fun to catch.
For me, fishing never gets old. I’m either trying to beat my personal best catch, trying to figure out a new lake, mastering a familiar lake, building confidence in a new lure or technique or trying to catch as many fish I can on an outing. Every trip out is an opportunity to fish better than you did the last time. One of my favorite fishing related quotes is by Robert Altman : “I love fishing. You put that lure in the water and you don’t know what’s on the other end. You imagination is under there.”
What are your personal best largemouth and smallmouth bass?
My personal best largemouth is 5 lb 5 oz. A friend and I were prefishing for a small Club tournament. It was a tough lake to figure out and the bite was slow. I was always the one to tie on something weird or different in those situations to try and get them to bite. That day I had a pearl gold black flake Senko tied on…not a color I would normally throw.
I saw a set of stone stairs descending into the water and decided to cast right up to it. BAM! A fish whacked it right as it hit the water, I set the hook and knew it was a decent size fish. It wasn’t until it was almost to the boat that I realized just how big. It was a “get the net!!” moment. I couldn’t stop laughing once it was in the boat. I was so excited!
My personal best smallmouth is 3 lbs 2 oz. I was fishing a club tournament on a new lake that I didn’t have the opportunity to prefish. It was our first event of the year, and here in New England that means we had just recently had the ice melt off and the water was rather cold! My boater was struggling to get us on fish all day. We finally found a nice flat with some grass and access to deep water in the afternoon. As is the norm in the spring, it was windy and there was some chop to the water. I decided to throw a jerkbait, figuring it would be the best presentation given the conditions. This fish annihilated that jerkbait! You know it’s a good fish when the lure stops dead in the water. She put up a pretty good fight and it was such a relief to get her in the boat! It ended up being lunker smallmouth for the season in my club that year!
What are your favorite home waters to fish?
The Connecticut/ Massachusetts area I live in offers so many great bodies of water, it’s hard to pick! One of my go to places is actually this tiny pond that’s nearby where I work. I toss my kayak on my truck and frequently go there after work to decompress and have some fun. This pond, which shall remain nameless, has been good to me. I’ve spent a lot of time there so when I do go I tend to have a lot of fun! One of my best days this season was during the spawn. I found an area that they were absolutely loaded in and caught so many fish over a couple hours that my arms hurt! I also hooked into a 5 lb 2 oz beast there earlier this summer. Talk about fun. Fishing a medium action spinning rod in a kayak no less. I have a lot of good memories there and it’s definitely one of my favorite spots to visit.
Another favorite of mine is Congamond Lakes. It’s a decent size lake that has three different sections. Each section is completely different. For example one section is deep and clear, another is shallow, stained and weedy. It offers a lot of different opportunities for fishing and has a good amount of quality fish. It’s a challenging lake to fish which is one of the reasons I like it. It makes me fish harder and smarter to figure it out. Due to the high recreation on the lake I limit my trips there to early spring or fall. Congamond has the potential for me to beat my personal best so I love going there!
What are 3 of your favorite lures/techniques for bass fishing?
One of my new favorite lures is the chatterbait. I’ve caught more quality fish in the last year on a chatterbait. I remember the first one that was given to me. I was like what the heck is this going to catch?? I tossed it in my tackle box to never be seen again. For some reason last year I decided to tie it on, it was another one of those prefishing situations where I wanted to tie on something different. Boy was that the right thing to do! I had a blast! Fish after fish after fish. It was unbelievable! What I like about it the most is that it’s a reaction bite and those are always exciting.
One of my nicknames is the “Senko Queen”. I’ve had more fun with that simple stick bait. It’s incredible how versatile the stick bait lure can be and how many fish you can catch on them. I’ve heard them called the “cheater” bait but honestly if a lure catches fish like these do you’re silly to not throw them!
Hmmmm let’s see, what to pick as #3. I think it would have to be the jerkbait. The only downfall to the jerkbait is that it catches every species. But is that really a downfall? Only when you’re trying to fish a bass tournament! The jerkbait is another exciting lure, the hits you get are usually aggressive. And it’s one of those lures you can count on to produce in tough conditions.
You promote Kistler Rods. What do you like about fishing with these rods?
Kistler Rods have opened a whole new world of fishing for me. I never fished with so called cheap gear before, but I realized what I was missing when I picked up a Kistler. The sensitivity of their rods is amazing. I thought I knew what grass felt like, then I used a Kistler and discovered what individual blades of grass feel like…WOW! Kistler is a top quality rod, they are light and balanced which means less fatigue on those long days on the water. It’s easy to miss bites fishing because you don’t feel it, with a Kistler you’re going to feel the bites without question! One of the best parts is they are made in America.
What can you tell us about the other companies that you represent?
Women Fish Too: this is an organization whose mission statement is “encouraging women to help them feel comfortable in the outdoors”. I enjoy being a pro staffer on this team. It’s a great resource for showing women how much fun fishing can actually be!
Trigger Happy Comfort Grips: I’m an unofficial prostaffer for THCG. I discovered this product last year and it is the most clever thing you will ever come across. Loren Jenkins designed these rubber grips for bait casting and spinning rod combos to help make them more ergonomic in order to reduce fatigue. For casting rods it’s a rubber grip that fits over the trigger on the rod. For the spinning combo it’s a rubber grip that fits over the arm of the reel. They are really amazing. I used to get blisters from fishing and that doesn’t happen now! Definitely something you should try if you haven’t already. I won’t fish without them anymore!
NEBassin: this is the tournament organization that I fish. It’s one of the fastest growing tournament series in the Northeast. What drew me to this organization is that they offer a small boat/kayak trail so I was able to fish competitively on my own. It’s a great group to fish with and there are tournament opportunities all across New England . I’m actually going to be directing my own small boat/kayak trail within the organization next season so I’m really excited about that!
Bite Freak Customs: hands down one of the best lure companies I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Not only do they make a quality product, but both Toby and Casey are great. I’ve needed custom color lures last minute for tournaments and they are more than happy to put colors together for you and get them right in the mail so you have them in time to compete. They make a variety of lures: jigs, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, cranks etc.
It’s Limitless Outdoor Apparel: I use this company exclusively for my fishing jerseys. They make custom design jerseys and the options really are limitless! The owner Brad Passmore takes your ideas and sponsor logos and turns them into a fabulous jersey. He’s a breeze to work with and will help you personalize your jersey to make it what you envision! I absolutely love my jersey design this season and I can’t wait to work on the design for next season’s jersey with Brad!
While I enjoy staring at big fancy sparkly boats, I love small fishing boats and you have a great one. Tell us about your small boat. And what have you done to make your boat a great fishing rig?
I LOVE my small boat. I’m not financially able to get into a big fancy sparkly boat, so this is the next best thing. It allows me the freedom to fish on my own. My grandfather and I converted a simple 12 ft Jon boat into my custom mini bass rig. My grandfather is a general contractor so he had the tools and knowledge to make my vision into reality. It doesn’t seem like a huge transformation, but it took a lot of thought and planning to make it come out right! We started with the supports for the decking, falling through a hatch cover would make for a bad day on the water! We just made a simple support frame out of 2x4s. Then came the decking. It’s simple plywood covered with marine grade carpeting.
Deciding how big to make the compartment took some thought but we made it work! The compartment is just the right size to fit a battery and all the various safety equipment needed. I have a bad back so I knew I needed a pedestal butt seat to lean against, tournament days can be really long. That was a challenge to get bolted in the right way. Next was bolting down my bow mount trolling motor, which actually took some thinking ahead. We had to put some supports under the decking so there was something to bolt into. There isn’t much structural support in a little Jon boat!
Once we got all that done it was time for a test ride. It turned out that it was too tippy for me, which I had expected. It’s a 12 ft Jon boat that’s only 36 inches wide. We raised the center of gravity with the decking and pedestal seat so it was inevitably going to be tippy. So we put on our thinking caps and came up with an idea for outriggers. My grandpa ordered up the drainage pipe and we fashioned steel fasteners to attach them to the boat. They aren’t the prettiest but they do the job they were designed for. They stop the boat from tipping too much so I’m able to use it with ease. Everyone said they look like missile launchers so as a joke we got some of those deer whistles as “sights”.
You have to have a sense of humor right? Oh and speaking of humor, my boat’s name is the USS Minnow. It’s a great set up. I have another battery and tiller motor in the back for moving from spot to spot, the tournament trail I do doesn’t allow gas motors. I need to make a few small adjustments over the winter, soundproofing the bottom is top on the list! But other than that it works great. I’m really proud of what we created together and I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy it as much as I do.
Talk about a boat outfitted for fishing! Heather’s boat is so cool as well as her fishing story. Thank you Heather for doing this interview. To follow her, check her out on Instagram.