Meet Barb Carey, founder of WI Women Fish and the founder of the Women Ice Angler Project. Her influence in the realm of women angling is second to none—particularly when it comes to ice fishing, Carey’s winter addiction. “When I first joined Ice Team there really weren’t any photos of women ice fishing in the corporate catalogs or in their marketing efforts,” said Carey. “That’s all changed with WIAP. I’m proud of what we’ve done in four short years.”
Each year, Carey assembles a team of talented writers, photographers and ice anglers; then hits the ice with the goal that sponsors will benefit from the all-female focused content (stories, photography and video). “We’ve seen sponsors put WIAP photos on product packaging, in annual catalogs, in social media or just benefit from riding along on all the media coverage we receive,” said Carey. “Everyone loves it because we showcase real women ice fishing.”
Now with 10-plus years of organizing women’s ice fishing events, women dot the landscape all over the ice belt. “I’ve watched women spend thousands of dollars on gear—from ATVs to shacks to sleds to all the clothing,” said Carey. Her frustration was that the marketers were ignoring this important segment. Everything showed only men. As an active media member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) she started her own media event to create women-focused content. Calling on her professional female colleagues, WIAP was born.
Even with the success of the WIAP, there is still a long road ahead, not just to represent women in the media, but to also perfect their gear needs. Many women still find it difficult to find good-fitting gear. Carey’s relationship with companies such as Clam Outdoors, creates a link between the female consumer and the company that creates those products.
“The best part is watching women’s confidence grow and seeing the life-long friendships develop between those who share the passion for angling,” said Carey. Having a support system in place around fishing creates more opportunities to get out; that means more new waters to explore.
Shantel Wittstruck is an outdoor enthusiast, writer and public speaker from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She writes freelance for Adventuress Magazine, Dakota Country Magazine and Stonehouse Creative and on the pro-staff with Clam, Vexilar and Northland Tackle. Before you can say “Fishing anyone?” Shantel is already on the open water or drilling holes in the ice. Even with her many educational opportunities to share fishing tips during seminars she gives or even scooping minnows at the bait shop, she’s always open to listen and learn from others. She brings those ingrained skills to the Women Ice Angler Project (WIAP).
“There is never a right way or a wrong way when it comes to fishing,” said Shantel. “There’s always just another way. Educate, inspire and repeat. That’s my motto.” There might be limits when it comes to daily catch but there are no limits when it comes to learning new insights and sharing good times in outdoor adventures with friends and family. When the bite slows down it might be time to find another way.
“As a mother of two, I love sharing the outdoor skills I’ve worked hard to develop since I was a toddler with my own parents and grandparents,” continued Shantel. The passion is contagious, and now, generational. “Whether it’s my role as a leader in volunteer or non-profit organizations or showcasing knowledge about the myriad of products out there to choose from; I like learning, exploring and doing. It’s fun.”
K.J. Houtman is an outdoor writer from Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota whose 25-plus year career spanned sportfishing industry organizations like the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the North American Fishing Club as well as nine seasons running the Masters Walleye Circuit. She authored a six-book series for kids, “Fish On Kids Books” to introduce middle school-age readers to the fun adventures around fishing, camping and hunting with main-character and avid angler Gus Roberts.
Along with hunting editor Bill Miller, Houtman co-authored Reflections Under the Big Pine, a Christian devotional around hunting- and fishing-themed stories, and in 2016 released the life story of Outdoor Life magazine editor Jim Zumbo, entitled Zumbo. Her newest book will be out soon (scheduled March 2019) entitled Why Women Hunt (for Wild River Press). She is a member of several organizations including Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) and Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). In 2009, Houtman received Lifetime Honorary Membership of the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) recognizing her industry achievements.
“My skill set falls far short of professional,” Houtman said. “However, I’ve been in the business a long time and fished with some of the best anglers out there, like these great female anglers. We’re making an industry difference casting the spotlight on women on the ice.” Houtman organized many fishing clinics and was a founding board member of the Future Angler Foundation (FAF) and believes the industry needs to embrace non-professional level anglers (like herself) as well as the die-hards. “There’s so much potential in our industry if we simply bring folks in who like to fish a few times a year—not every weekend. Help families feel able, successful and welcome, and the business will climb off the charts.”
Shelly Holland is a professional angler and sportfishing promoter, actively teaching others to ice fish for years. Often a seminar speaker with skilled how-to information, Shelly excels at relaying her fishing knowledge with great takeaways for all levels of attendees. With a smiling face and a helping hand, outdoor adventures are a natural part of Holland’s everyday life: whitewater rafting, jet ski racing and even sky diving are some of her pursuits. She strongly believes that the more fear you conquer the less power it has; your limits are dictated by you!
With a recently-obtained Captain’s license, Holland guides fishing and adventure trips on Lake Superior at the Apostle Islands in her 27-ft. yacht “Into Wishin.” A small-business owner with Sunshine Catering, SKS guides and Escape Excursions, Shelly’s entrepreneurial spirit is the means to her addictive adventures. “Smile at the world and the world will smile back,” is her motto and life-sustaining rule of thumb.
As part of Women Ice Angler Project (WIAP) Shelly Holland brings incredible skill to the team. Her first-hand knowledge of many lakes and vast network for new waters helps narrow down the search for big fish. Independence, mobility and speed are her hallmark ice fishing attributes; one can almost bank money Shelly Holland will not only be the first one to wet a line but odds are good she’ll be the first one to call out, “Fish on!” Now you know why she’s always smiling.
If an angler can make fishing artistic, it is Rikki Pardun. From marketing and social media, to her stunning creative materials, Rikki is passionate about life and about fishing—especially ice fishing. A pro-staff member of Clam Outdoors, Vexilar, and Cold-Snap, Rikki brings a flair to fishing and the Women Ice Angler Project (WIAP). But it isn’t just all fun and games; Rikki received the Meritorious Service Award with the WI Women Fish organization for 2016-2017; her generous giving of time and talent shows in her wide circle of influence and the respect extended from her peers.
From event planning and execution, design of collateral marketing materials, and interactive social media presence, Rikki has developed a strong following. Coaching high school fishing teams and teaching classes and seminars for women, Rikki loves sharing the passion of fishing. She is a certified angling instructor with the Wisconsin DNR and a member of the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA).
Rikki’s creativity takes the Women Ice Angler Project (WIAP) to new heights. “I love putting together creative photos and engaging social media contests,” said Rikki in getting ready for the fourth season of WIAP. “I can’t wait for another great media event and showing the rest of the industry that women are serious about ice fishing and … well, we’re pretty good at what we do, too.”
Hailing from Janesville, Wisc., Clam Powerstick Pro Bonnie Timm joins Women Ice Angler Project (WIAP) as “Big Fish Bonnie.” Known to set up “off to the side” from the hub-bub of a crowd of activity, Timm is often the recipient of the Big Fish honors. She quietly gets it done.
A registered sleep technologist and sleep educator by day, Timm enjoys open water fishing from her boat and kayak, but her first passion is ice fishing. “I enjoy every minute of being on the ice on a winter day—taking in the beauty of the great outdoors—even in the midst of a blizzard,” said Bonnie.
An active member of WI Women Fish and Women Anglers of Minnesota, Timm believes every fish caught is part of a story—and the shared experiences are the beauty behind each day on the ice.
This year’s theme of traveling independently fits in with Timm’s snowmobile and single-seat Clam flip-over shack preferred method. “There’s a feeling of empowerment to travel independently on the ice, use a map to locate fish and have the tools and knowledge to catch big fish,” said Timm. “With clothing that keeps us warm, dry and comfortable, I hope to inspire and educate women who want to try ice fishing for the first time and also give encouragement to women who want to improve their skills.” Timm encourages women to join a fishing group, attend a seminar or take a fishing class. “Knowledge is very powerful and helps create those life-long stories that go with every memory on the ice.”
Hannah Stonehouse Hudson
Hannah Stonehouse Hudson is a writer, photographer, speaker, and outdoor enthusiast. After losing her husband unexpectedly in 2013, Hannah began to focus primarily on inspiring others to follow their passions and to live life to the fullest. In addition to being the Director of Social Media for Bast Durbin Advertising, Hannah’s photography and writing assignments take her all over the world documenting people and canines enjoying the outdoors. When Hannah is not out on the water or in the field, she can be found speaking about the power of social media, why it’s important to live life to the fullest, and teaching organizations and businesses how to handle social media when something tragic occurs. Hannah’s TEDx talk on social media and empathy can be seen here: http://stonehousephotoblog.com/2015/11/empathy-and-the-power-of-virtual-communities/
Our special guest for 2019:
Nicole Stone is known for her angling adventures across the Midwest and Canada. She has been fishing since she was six years old and has continued her passion through adulthood, traveling from Nebraska to Manitoba searching for a variety of big fish. She is currently a prostaffer for ACME Tackle Company, Outdoor Bound TV, and DSG Outerwear-Snow
When Nicole isn’t on the water, she also works as a full-time freelance writer and blogger. You can follow her on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/c…/UCguFClYXRte1XA1d7gw0d7A/featured), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/nicolestoneoutdoors/), and Facebook: Nicole Stone Outdoors.