Recently, Laura Ann Foshee became the first female to be awarded a bass fishing scholarship. I reached out to her to discuss her success and what it means to be a female in male-dominated sport.
Recently, Laura Ann made waves in the bass fishing world by becoming the first female ever to receive a bass fishing scholarship. Since we are beginning a new feature here at Wide Open Spaces, aptly named Women of the Woods, we felt Laura Ann would be a great introduction to our series.
I got the chance to ask her some important questions regarding not only her success, but also about how she manages becoming an expert angler on top of still being a high school student.
WOS: Congratulations on this huge accomplishment! What was it like to know you received a scholarship offer from SCAD, making you the first female to receive an angling scholarship?
Laura Ann Foshee: It's a dream come true! Going to SCAD would not have been possible without the scholarship. I now get to take graphic art design and photography at the best school while doing what I love as I continue to grow my fishing skills.
WOS: How long have you been fishing? Was it a family sport that you grew to love completely, or did you discover it in a different way?
LAF: I have fished since I was a young girl with both my grandfathers, but I didn't fall in love with it until the age of 15. I went fishing with my uncle who was practicing for a tournament and caught an 8.5 pound bass. It was so exciting that I wanted to learn more. I went to the Bassmaster Classic that year, and was so impressed by the pros and their passion for the sport that I decided I wanted to try tournaments and the rest is history.
WOS: Do you think about how your dedication has led you to break records, or is it just a blip on your radar as you pursue a sport that you truly love?
LAF: I am very grateful for the success I have had so far, but I still have so much more to learn. I met Randy Howell in 2013 - he came to a high school angler meeting and shared his testimony with us. A month later, I was able to help out at his Kampfire for the Kingdom charity event. After that, I got to see him win the Bassmaster Classic and share his love for God on the stage with millions of people. That's when I knew I was no longer fishing to win tournaments, but for a chance to share my testimony with others and do good in the world, like Randy. I still volunteer at Kampfire and try to raise money for Pink Fishing (Breast Cancer Awareness) and Outdoor Ability Foundation, which equips disabled anglers and hunters. My goal is to be on the Classic stage some day so I can share my own testimony.
WOS: Angling is a sport that takes a lifetime to learn. How much practice would you say you've had? How much time on the water do you normally wrack up in a week?
LAF: I don't get enough! That's the hard part about high school fishing. You're in school five days a week so you only have the weekend, holidays, and late afternoons to fish. I go as often as I can. That's another reason why I'm so excited for college. My coach plans to have us practicing almost every morning before classes.
WOS: What's your personal best bass?
LAF: I have caught several bass over 8 pounds. I would love to catch a giant, but my dream is to catch my first 5 fish bag over 25 pounds in a tournament, which I hope to do this year.
WOS: Do you have any favorite gear that you swear by?
LAF: I have been blessed with some of the best sponsors in the industry. Sponsors that have taken a chance on a young high school girl. I can't say enough about the gear I use, like my Big Bite Baits worms and fighting frogs, my G Money jigs, Rainshadow rods, Lews reels, Sunline FC, Gamakatsu hooks, Spro frogs, and Strike King spinnerbaits. I only use tackle that I have confidence in.
WOS: Have you experienced any frustrating moments being a girl in a male-dominated sport?
LAF: I've had guys make fun of me and try to discourage me, but most guys are really supportive. I get more grief from people who don't fish and don't understand why a girl would want to. The great thing about fishing is that there is no advantage that guys have over girls in fishing. Most of the guys I fish with and against know I'm serious once they've competed against me.
WOS: What has been one of your favorite memories/best days on the lake so far?
LAF: This past year, my cousin and I took first and second in the FLW/SAF state championship on Lake Eufaula. That was a special day for my family and one that I will always remember. Another was the B.A.S.S. All-American tournament this past year. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event that I'll never forget. I'm so thankful to B.A.S.S. for the opportunity to fish with Bill Lowen. They really made us feel so special.
WOS: What other hobbies do you have besides angling?
LAF: I have always loved art and enjoy painting. I am a cheerleader at my high school, and have medaled in track events.
Laura's mother Tammy also added that Laura is an active duck and deer hunter, and she shot her first 6-point buck this past year.
WOS: Do you have any advice for female angles who are either newcomers to the sport, or are looking to get more serious about their hobby?
LAF: Find someone that's fun to fish with and get out on the waters as often as you can. If you go with someone who's too serious or discouraging, you won't get what you need. You can learn a lot from reading and watching videos, but nothing beats hands-on experience.
Congratulations, Laura Ann, on all you've accomplished and all you're yet to do in the world of angling! More strong female role models are needed in all areas of the outdoor world, and with women like Laura Ann leading the charge, I'm very confident for the future growth of females in these outdoor arenas.
This past weekend, Laura Ann and her team won the SAF/TBF high school tournament on Lake Martin, which she says "was a big win for her and her team."
Here at Wide Open Spaces, we're excited to see what will come next for Laura Ann as she attends SCAD, and as she continues her excellent community outreach programs, such as Kampfire for the Kingdom.
All images provided by the Foshee family.