Wisconsin Women Fish: How one female captain is turning the tide

NOW: Wisconsin Women Fish: How one female captain is turning the tide

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – For 20 years, one woman has made it her mission to get more female fishers out on the water.

"I think fishing is often underrated," Barbara Carey said. "I think that for youth today, they talk about all the sports like football and basketball and all that stuff, but you can only do that for so long. Fishing is something you can do your whole life."

For Barbara Carey, better known as Captain Barb, casting a line for a bite that might not ever happen is worth the wait.

"As long as you're fishing, the possibility of something exciting can happen at any moment," she said.

Carey is a former police officer and nurse who grew up fishing but did not see anyone like her behind the helm.

"I never saw any other women fishing, and I always wondered why?" she said.

To change that, Carey grabbed her gear and founded Wisconsin Women Fish.

"I started having fishing events for women like 20 years ago," she explained. "It's just about sharing the information and learning and going on adventures together. It's been a really wonderful thing."

Every year, the group holds a dozen get-togethers where women like Rikki Pardun, the club's Vice President and Carey's first mate, can connect and fish.

"I'm like, 'There's a women's fishing club in Wisconsin, and I've never heard of it? I need to join right now,' and I did," Pardun said about the first time she learned about Wisconsin Women Fish.

"It really changed my life that first event. Everyone helped each other. They were cheering for each other. They were like, 'Oh, you don't have that? Use mine," she said. "Immediately after my first event, I couldn't wait for the next event."

While Wisconsin is the namesake, women from all over can join.

"We currently have over 650 members from 23 states and two Canadian Provinces, and they're ranging in age from 18 all the way to 87," Pardun explained.

For Carey, it is about having fun while teaching women the ways of the water to keep female fishers hooked.

"What I see happening is once they know, and they become more skilled, then they're giving it back," Carey said. "We have many members who are volunteering for high school fishing clubs and youth programs, and they've become DNR-certified angling educators."

Carey, a U.S. Coast Guard Captain, inspires the women to reach new heights.

"On and off the water, you're learning something and everything that she knows, she's passing on to others and supporting them and encouraging them, and just making people better and more confident," Pardun said.

As Carey continues to sail against the current in a male-dominated sport, she welcomes everyone to join her on Lake Michigan.

"The people that we take out love it," she said. "It's kind of addicting, and they don't think they can do it, but we take them out and show them how."

If you are hesitant, Captain Barb is here to keep you afloat.

"Dream big and kick doors down if they're not opening for you, and if you need any help, reach out because this is what I do," she said.

For more information on Wisconsin Women Fish, visit their website or Facebook page.

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