There is no doubt that the number of female kayak anglers is steadily growing.
Having noticed small groups of women getting together for all-girl adventures, I was intrigued to see if anything went into their trips that was starkly different from their male counterparts.
I can tell you the answer is a resounding “no.”
I contacted my favorite kayak catfish queen, Robyn Bordelon, and told her of my idea to simply tag along as a fly-on-the-wall for one of their upcoming fishing trips. Well, Robyn took the ball and ran with it. Soon the trip morphed into a group of seven female ‘yakers, complete with an overnight outing ( I only participated in the kayak trip) and a mothership to ferry everyone further from the launch in Point Aux Chenes.
A Facebook private message group was formed and the plans started taking shape. I have to say it was quite interesting monitoring the banter that began as ideas and schedules were tossed around in the group. Unlike most guys planning such a trip, there was talk of nail polish colors and even whether one prospective participant’s cat would make a suitable fishing companion. (She nor the cat was ultimately able to participate.)
The excitement of these lady anglers was palpable. They arranged accommodations, planned meals and adult beverages, as well as talked fishing strategy and gear.
More than anything, I sensed their eagerness for the opportunity to show they could hold their own in the kayak fishing world. They coined the name ‘Salty Chicks’ for their small group — but the bottom line was they planned for a serious fishing trip.
After a night of friendship and successful fishing off the pier at PAC Kayak Marina, the anglers awoke to strong winds and a flooded parking lot.
However, they had pre-loaded four kayaks on Capt. Eddie Mullen’s mothership and couldn’t wait to get to an area near Lake Felicity that he called the “promised land.”
The first trip saw Kalley LeRoy, Sara Giles, Jessica Thompson Bryant, Robyn Bordelon and Tricia Lewis onboard. After dropping them off, Capt. Eddie returned for Joycelyn Boudreaux, Stella Drewes Bourgeois and myself.
As we arrived and launched, the first group had wasted no time and already had caught a couple of rat reds. While everyone stayed in the same general vicinity, the anglers spread out and pursued their own preferred areas and techniques.
We met back before pickup time to take a group shot with some of the fish caught. The high water had the reds scattered deep into the flooded marsh, but these skilled anglers caught a variety of species using dead bait, gold spoons, Gulp lures — and even a fly rod.
It was an honor to accompany this group, which was self-sufficient, knowledgeable and determined to catch fish.
I asked each angler to send me a couple of thoughts on the experience:
Destrehan, kayak fishing eight years.
“We sort of became our Salty Chicks T-shirts. I really wasn’t expecting the level of pure joy and happiness on this trip,” she said. “All everyone could talk about was when we were going again.
“Kalley was sitting on the bow of the mothership with the wind in her hair for the ride back in. She simply said, ‘I love this. Everything about this. I love this place.’”
Author’s Note: Bordelon is a beast at catching giant catfish from a kayak.
Stella Drewes Bourgeois
Belle Chasse, kayak fishing two years.
“It was great to be around other women with the same passion as me, but also to get advice and learn from other females that have been doing this for many years,” she said.
As the mother of four girls, Drewes Bourgeois is excited that the trip has instantly grown into much more than anticipated.
“We’re launching a Facebook Salty Chicks Kayak Fishing Group page that is only for women kayakers in an attempt to grow the community, and have a place for those that may feel intimidated or simply need a place to ask questions,” she said.
Author’s Note: Bourgeois did not quit. She fished to the bitter end.
Mandeville, started kayak fishing with her dad when she was 9 years old.
“I started fly fishing out of my kayak about three years ago and haven’t looked back since. It’s my passion and I love it,” she said. “I think the biggest barrier to women getting into kayak fishing is the myth that you have to know what you’re doing and have everything figured out before you can start.
“You don’t have to be an expert to get out there. Find a friend to go with, start close to the launch and throw any bait you’re comfortable with. Being able to go out into the marsh in your own boat, that you power yourself, and catch fish, can be a huge source of confidence — especially for women,” she said. “We’re not out here for the image, or to look cool. We’re out here to fish, and all of these women are more than capable of going up against any of the guys I know in a tournament. I always tell people, ‘The fish don’t care that there’s a female at the other end of the line.’”
Author’s Note: Watching the dedication and success Giles had throwing the fly rod from her tiny kayak was humbling.
Denham Springs, kayak (mostly paddle board) fishing for seven to eight years.
“Women in kayak fishing is a growing sport. I am so glad my two girls will have this to get into. I hope they enjoy all the serenity and beauty nature has to offer as I have. I had so much fun with this group of lady anglers. Lots of laughs were had, fish were caught, and new bonds formed,” she said.
Author’s Note: LeRoy made her mark on the paddle craft fishing world a few years ago by winning Ride the Bull, the world’s largest kayak fishing tournament held every August in Grand Isle — from her paddle board.
Gonzales, kayak fishing since 2002.
“This trip made me so happy because finally I was with a group who could talk fishing … or not. We could talk about anything, and it was never weird or awkward even though the age span was 27 to 51. Every one of us has some fear or difficulty when it comes to fishing in a kayak, with or without a male partner to help or protect us, and I think now we realize that we can rely on each other — or even ourselves,” Lewis said.
Author’s note: Lewis is a regular tournament participant, and is a member of the Hobie Kayak Fishing Tream.
New Orleans, kayak fishing for 20 years.
“The thrill of my day was fishing close to Kalley and watching her methodically stalk and hunt a redfish with rifle-like precision. It was a lot like my own fishing methods and confirmed that, ‘Yeah, I really do know what I’m doing,’” she said.
Author’s note: Boudreaux recently began participating in tournaments, and already has three trophies to show for it.
Jessica Thompson Bryant
Columbia, Mississippi, kayak fishing more than 10 years.
“I’ve made many new friends from all walks of life through kayak fishing. From the moment I met all of the ladies I knew we would become friends and hopefully plan many fishing trips together. Kayaking is thought of a solitary sport, but I find that kayak-fishing folks are very willing to share information, lend a helping hand and extend a fishing invite. It’s even more special to find these traits in such a varied group of ladies,” she said. “It was very refreshing this weekend to be among ladies who are both confident in real life and in a kayak.
“Our camaraderie as a group was almost instant. Sharing tips and tricks that men may not consider on the water was comical.”
Author’s note: Bryant is an officer in the South Mississippi Kayak Fishing Club, and is a member of Native Watercraft Pro Staff.
For more info on the group, go to Facebook: Salty Chicks Kayak Fishing Group.