There are a lot of things that Nicole Jacobs Stelmach, a professional angler and mom, likes about fish. One of the most important: they don’t discriminate. It’s a theme that Stelmach, a tireless champion of the sport, always returns to. “I remind women that on the water, it’s just them against the fish,” Stelmach says.
It’s a powerful message, especially when it’s coming from someone as respected and influential as Stelmach. She and her husband, outdoor and radio personality Boomer Stelmach, tag-team public speaking events and seminars; along with their kids, the Stelmaches are known as the Fishing Family of Minnesota. When Stelmach talks to other women, she likes to talk about how relaxing and reinvigorating the sport can be. “One of the things I love about being on the water is how serene it can be,” she says. "You can decompress, let go of anxieties."
For Stelmach, who no longer competes on the world tour, it’s less about the size or number of fish you can catch and more about spending time with friends and family. These days, that starts at home with her two 12-year-olds, Cole and Sophia. “We fish for crappies, because they’re the easiest to catch. If you want to fish with your kids, you want to keep them engaged,” she says. She also recommends that parents keep fishing days short—one to three hours max—or you’ll burn kids out.
She and Boomer prolong the stoke by letting Sophia and Cole stop fishing whenever they want and do other lake-based things like jumping off the boat. Because, ultimately, it’s not about how many fish you catch, she says, it’s about spending time together in the outdoors. “I’m better at catching,” she says, “but the kids just want to have fun.”
Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ are the national campaigns from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. RBFF strives to increase participation in recreational boating and fishing, thereby helping to conserve and restore our country’s aquatic natural resources. Learn more at TakeMeFishing.org.