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    12 Questions: The FishHer Sisters

    By FishRecycler | February 28, 2008

    FishHer Sisters - 12 QuestionsBy: Teeg Stouffer

    Linda Berry and Denese Freeman are sisters who compete on the B.A.S.S. Women’s Bassmaster Tour. Their lead sponsor is FishHer, who makes rods and other outdoor gear designed specifically for female anglers. And thus – their angling persona is born, “The FishHer Sisters.”

    The FishHer Sisters are known not only for slinging a rod for heavy bags of bass, but also for their work in getting more people into the sport. They’re Anglers Legacy Pledge Ambassadors, and at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, joined Recycled Fish as Stewardship Pledge Ambassadors as well.

    Women in the outdoors are a big deal, particularly with rising divorce rates. Increasingly, the responsibility of passing along the traditions of the outdoors falls to women. But honestly, women have played a critical role for generations. As for me, my mom and grandma are the ones who introduced me to fishing; my dad also enjoyed it and played an important role in developing my love for the outdoors, but he had a busy work schedule. My mom, on the other hand, had Mondays off, so every Monday she took my brother and I to fish with my Grandma, who fished just about every day.

    With that history as my personal background, I was excited to speak with Linda and Denese.

    What got you interested in the outdoors in the first place?

    Denese FreemanDenese: I’ve been interested in the outdoors since I was a child. I was always a tomboy among my group of friends, I’d rather be outside doing anything instead of being indoors doing housework or cooking with my mom.

    Linda: I was the oldest child in the family, so I had a lot of indoor responsibility, but my heart was always outside. I took every opportunity to mow the yard or ride my bike, or just be outside even though I did have indoor responsibility. Our mother took us fishing when she could, and that’s when my interest in fishing developed.

    Denese: I think I just tried to migrate outdoors any chance I could.

    Linda: Our dad had to work sometimes two and three jobs, but he did like to fish. The only photos we found that I know of are of him with a fish and us in the picture. As much as our mother loved to fish and took us fishing, we don’t have any photos of that and it’s sad. Our dad liked to fish just as much as he had the opportunity to go.

    Denese: Today, we’re spending most of our time connected with fishing and the outdoors.

    Linda BerryLinda: We started a website a little over two years ago called eBassFish.com to promote women fishing. Our website is pretty much focused on bass fishing, and it’s geared around tournament fishing but we don’t exclude any female angler that loves to fish. FishHer is a company in Omaha started by Angie Michaels, who wanted to develop fishing gear and tackle that was more ergonomically suited to the female angler. Because we’re sisters fishing the WBT, we got to be known as the FishHer Sisters.

    Denese: My particular background is in graphic design and I’ve been in that industry since 1978. When my sister and I started eBassfish.com, it kinda took off — she’s the writer, I’m the designer. In order to pursue another avenue, I began working with a guy named Brad Otersky, who fishes the BASS Opens. We developed a company called Bass Anglers Network. We do promotional items that promote anglers in the professional arena like websites, resumes, trading cards, business cards, tools to help them advance their careers.

    What do you see as the greatest challenge facing fish, our fisheries, our environment?

    Anglers Legacy PledgeDenese: Right now, I think the greatest challenges is conserving our natural resources for our future generations and teaching young people how to take care of the environment so that it’s here for everyone to enjoy in the future. That’s why we’re involved with Angler’s Legacy.

    Linda: I first got involved with Angler’s Legacy at the Bassmaster Classic in 2007. I was at the Classic for my sponsor, FishHer, and she had somebody connected with Anglers Legacy at the Classic. They were looking for people to help get Classic attendees to sign pledges saying they would introduce somebody to the sport of fishing. So I volunteered for that and it turned into a two-day event. We were busy non-stop, signing over 800 pledges at the Classic. Anglers Legacy had several kiosks set up around the event area, but our kiosk signed the most pledges. It was kind of a crash course for me, in Anglers Legacy. I had seen the ads, but I never really paid attention to it that much. I had a crash course in what it was all about. By the time I left the Classic I was pretty much hooked on the idea that this was very important. When I left the Classic, I knew this was what I had been looking for – a reason and a purpose to continue fishing. I knew that when I left the Classic, Anglers’ Legacy was what I wanted to pursue and to promote.

    Denese: Because we’re the Fisher Sisters, we both decided to take it on as a cause.

    How about news or success stories in fisheries and conservation?

    FishHer Sisters Linda: Ther’es so much going on, it’s overwhelming if you read everything. Each state has it’s own set of problems and programs. The one that’s interested me the most lately is the fish Ed grants implemented where they’re trying to get Phys Ed teachers to apply for this grant so they can teach fishing and boating in school. I think that’s a great way. A lot of parents don’t have the time or the money to do these things with their kids, so school seems like a great way to draw more people into the outdoors. And it at least gives them the exporsure; it may not be for them, but at least they’ve had the opportunity to find out what it’s all about. The Fish Ed grants have really interested me lately.

    Denese: It’s been on my mind to visit schools in my community and visit with these Phys Ed teachers. I’ve had three children of my own in the schools here in Lawton, and I know some of the Phys Ed teachers. One of the things I plan to do in 2008 is to make the rounds to those teachers and see if there’s anyway that I can help them in getting these programs initiated.

    Linda: Fish Ed was started in 2003, but it seems like it’s really taking off now. It’s a good program. I just joined a bass club here locally and we’re looking for a project for 2008, and we’re going to try to work with a local recreation center and make them aware of this grant. We hope to work with a school as a club project.

    What’s the best advancement you’ve found in fishing recently?

    Bass RoomLinda: Actually, my sister and I both had the same answer. Are you familiar with a product called the Bass Room? There’s a lot of new lures and rods and reels that are new and improved that are all great, but this product stands out because it truly is innovative. It was designed to give people privacy on the water, you don’t have to leave the water to go find a public restroom. A lot of tournament anglers will go find a cove or something and use the bathroom and just keep on fishing. The way things are getting these days, there’s more housing around the lakes, there’s more people on the water, it’s hard to find a private place when you’re fishing or boating. We live in an era of camera phones and YouTube. For a competitive angler, it’s too risky to relieve yourself on the water. Not to mention the environmental impacts. The Bass Room is designed to fit a variety of boats, gives you privacy on the water, it allows tournament anglers a chance to keep on fishing, it breaks down quickly and easily, you don’t lose tournament time, and it’s innovative.

    A lot of anglers might laugh at this product saying that’s not necessary, but with the way the world’s getting today with all the camera phones and things like that, what an angler used to do on the water can now be used against them. If somebody took a picture and said, this person was doing this and I’m offended by it… I think you know what I’m trying to say. This product will soon be not only accepted, but standard equipment.

    Denese: Especially if you’ve got men and women competing in the same boat.

    Linda: If you’re taking kids out, and handicapped anglers, it also provides a comfortable place for them and you don’t have to be running back and forth to a marina. It’s a useful product that at some point is going to be required, I think.

    Denese: You wouldn’t throw trash out of your boat, so why would you put hazardous waste into the water? If you go to any lake that has marinas and houseboats there are restrictions for porta-potties within certain distance of water, it’s the same thing on the boat.

    Linda: Some states have actually started writing tickets for this. In North Carolina, at a tournament last year on Lake Norman, one girl when to the bank, found a secluded area and relieved herself. An officer nearby witnessed it and gave her a ticket for littering. It’s something that is coming to that point.

    You guys help people learn how to fish. What do you see that is limiting people’s ability to catch fish?

    Denese: In my opinion, it’s not using their heads, and being able to read the water and the landscape. A lot of anglers use technology these days, and that’s great. But your greatest tool is your mind. I’ve been on the water with anglers, and they can only run the lake with electronics, and what if those electronics went out? This person would not know how to navigate. I buy a map of every lake I’m going to fish and I learn the lake just in case I have to fish without my electronics? Don’t get me wrong here, but I think we need to get back to basics. And let the fishing environment give us clues where they are and how to catch them.

    What do you think the main difference is between weekend anglers and professionals, or those who get to do it whenever they want?

    Linda: In my opinion, I think the passion is the same, but the weekend anglers are just limited by time and money and family obligations that prevent them from pursuing a career in fishing or just going whenever they feel like it. I’m sure there’s weekend anglers that would just love to go fishing all the time, but they just can’t. I still consider myself a weekend angler in between tournaments. People just go fishing when they can. They just enjoy what time they can put in on the water.

    If you weren’t fishing or involved in the fishing industry, what do you think you’d be doing?

    Linda: I’d like to say I’d be writing, I’d like to do more of it. It might not necessarily be about fishing, although a lot of my writing now is about fishing. I’ve got a couple of books that I’ve been wanting to write.

    Denese: I like working with wood and working with my hands a lot, just creating. I like to create crafts, I like to cut out fish or angels, things that interest me. I use natural resources like weathered benchwood and stuff, I just like creating things. Our dad was a carpenter, so we both have some of the same knowledge. He built houses, and I hung around the shop and learned to use tools and learned at an early age what it was like to work with wood. Working with wood is like breathing – it just comes natural.

    If you could only fish one bait or lure from here on out, what would it be?

    Zoom CentipedeLinda: I like soft plastics, specifically a Zoom Centipede in watermelon or green pumpkin. I’ve had a lot of success with that when everything else has failed, so for me, that’s what it would be.

    Denese: I think I’d pick a Senko type worm because it can be rigged in so many different ways. Texas rigged, wacky rigged, Carolina rigged. It’s just one bait in your boat, but there’s just so many presentations you can give. It’s one of the most versatile by far.

    How about one body of water?

    Denese: This was difficult for me. I wasn’t sure if you meant one lake or one type of water. Linda’s got 15 years of fishing experience ahead of me, so I don’t think I’ve fished enough lakes and rivers yet to be super specific. But I guess it’d have to be a body of water like a reservoir that’s continually fed by natural river or streams, so it’s always got fresh water coming into it.

    Linda: For me, I like power plant lakes. We have one five minutes from my house. They have a hot water discharge and you can fish all winter and still find reasonably warm water. We tournament fish on this lake all winter. I would take any power plant lake at anytime.

    Besides fishing, what other stuff do you guys do outside?

    Denese: I like outdoor photography. Fishing on the WBT has allowed me to step out of my box and I’ve gotten to a lot of different states that I wouldn’t normally have been able to get to, which means I’ve visited a lot of different lakes, too. I’ve seen the sunrise over so many different lakes, and I think outdoor photography really interests me – and sharing those images with others.

    Linda: I work a lot outside, but what I enjoy the most is watching other people compete in their sport of choice. I like to watch football and shows like Survivor, I like to watch people compete.

    Where do you guys go to find out what’s new, where the bite is… How do you keep yourselves informed as leaders?

    Linda: Personally, I think websites are the biggest sources of information, but I refer to BASS Times the most for information on conservation and things that are going on in the industry. They break a lot of it down by states. I think BASS Times is one of the most informative publications we’ve got. I can learn more reading that than I can surfing the web for hours. It’s a condensed version of everything that’s going on.

    Denese: I have basically the same answer. Anything BassMaster — BassMaster Magazine, their website, Bass Times, Bass Insider. If I’m going to a specific lake, I’ll search the area for guides and fishing reports specific to that area. I also like MyOutdoorTV.com for videos, videos available 24/7 online of any subject. It’s excellent, very well put together.

    If you could change one thing about anglers habits or the sport of fishing or how we use the environment, what would it be?

    Denese: The one thing that comes to mind — and I’m pretty new in my opinion to bass fishing and bass boats and stuff – but it always struck me odd to get in a bass boat and try to sneak up on bass with a 200 Horsepower engine. I’d like to create an engine that ran quieter and I’d like to change the type of fuel. The smoke is horrible. I’d change the engine.

    Linda: As far as anglers habits, I think that professional anglers have the responsibility to set good examples in our sport. We’re not just anglers. Some of them tend to forget how they got there and who got them there and why they are there.

    As for the environment, I think there should be more incentives to recycle. I consider myself a baby boomer and our parents went through the Depression and World War 2, so they taught us to be conservative. But youth growing up right now seem to be taking everything for granted. Parents tend to give their kids what they didn’t have, so I just think that kids need to learn how to conserve and recycle. One of these days it’s all going to be gone if we don’t learn to keep a handle on it.

    Teeg Stouffer & the FishHer Sisters

    For more from the FishHer sisters, visit www.ebassfish.com.
    For more on FishHer, visit www.FishHer.com.

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