How a Women’s Fishing Tournament Became One of My Favorite Adventures

I’ve been fishing this same Texas fishing tournament, called The Redfish Rodeo, in Texas for 13 years. Most people seem surprised when I say that I love to fish, but I do, and this annual tournament is one of my favorite experiences every. single. year.

The best part? It’s all women! (Bonus: Traveling is absolutely a necessity to me and my self-care plan, so this not only gets me around other incredible women, but it also gets me in my experience-happy-zone).

I grew up in Clearwater, Florida and was always around fishing but I never considered myself an angler until I started participating in this women’s fishing tournament. Thirteen years ago, my sister-in-law, Shawn, invited me. She’s married to my husband, Bryan’s brother and lives in Florida. She had a friend in Texas who invited her so she introduced me to her friend, Kimberly, and our other teammate, Missa who also lives in Texas. It’s a lot of the same women who attend year after year, but there are inevitably new people each year. It’s an invite-only tournament so you really have to know someone to be invited.

The Redfish Rodeo tournament is a crazy and unique experience. I look forward to it all year long. The bonds I’ve formed with these women humble me. I know that if I called them for anything, they’d be there, no matter what. So, that’s the best part about the trip but it’s really everything combined that makes it so special. The traditions, the women, the break from everyday life, the water, the spirit of competition, the music…The everything. All of it.

I come back year after year feeling more grateful, rejuvenated and counting the days until the next rodeo. We don’t usually get together (the 4 of us) any other time throughout the year but it’s magical how we pick up right where we left off. To be loved and to love on my friends is something I could never put a value to. It’s so important to me. THEY are so important to me.

Redfish Rodeo Tournament 2018

The Redfish Rodeo Tournament is always in September. Here’s a rundown of how it went this last year (obviously, as amazing as ever!):

Most of the women in this ladies fishing tournament live IN Texas. My sister-in-law and I are two of only a few who fly in from other states. We used to fly in on Wednesday but as we got older, we decided it was too long (i.e. we couldn’t hang for that many days partying and being away from our families). So, we fly in on Thursday. We stay in a beautiful resort together and that is just too much fun. It’s a tradition to stop at a “gas station” called Buc-ee’s on our way from the airport to the hotel. If you’ve been to a Buc-ee’s you know that it’s the best gas station on the planet. They have EV-ER-Y-THING. It’s awesome and we end up buying way too much, loading up on snacks for our room and for the boat, drinks, gifts for the kids, and whatever else we can waste our money on.

When we get to the hotel, the valet guys know EXACTLY who we are and it’s so fun to see everyone year after year. I think they might secretly love/hate us for how much sh*t we bring but they sure are kind about it. So when we get checked in, it feels like mere minutes go by before the entire suite is covered in wine, food, jewelry, clothing, and beauty products. We spend some time getting caught up and usually exchange gifts – some hilarious and not meant for a family blog and others so dang sweet they’ll make you ugly cry.

Then we start getting gussied up for that evening. Thursday evening we all (124 women, team sponsors, the tournament directors and all the fishing guides) have dinner together. And then there’s the guide draw. It’s a big deal as, obviously, it’s exciting to get a fishing guide who has won the tournament before. This last year we drew a WONDERFUL guide. He was the 2nd place winner last year so we were stoked. We even had another guide tell us that night, “if you do exactly as he says, you’ll win. He’s one of the best guides in this tournament.” That made us soooo excited. There’s also an opportunity to “buy” your own team, or other teams, which increases the size of your winnings (if that team wins). There are actually a lot of rules to it but just know there’s a lot of money at stake!

After the guide draw, everyone heads to the bar for a bit – some stay later than others. I am not a big drinker so after one or two drinks, I’m out. I cannot handle feeling bad on the boat the next day and because I’m not a drinker in my everyday life, it doesn’t take much for me to feel bad (ask my sister – she’s usually present when it goes sideways).

Friday morning, we’re up by 5:15. There’s a lot of yelling to “hurry up” and “we’re leaving in 5 minutes,” and “who has the lipstick?” blah blah. We have team fishing shirts so we sport matching outfits while we fish and most teams do as a way to showcase their sponsors’ logos. Our team name is “Rodeo Queens” and I have to say…We own that name in every way. We even had our own logo made many years ago. 

Now…It’s important to note that these women, all of them, are some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known. And they arrive to the dock with makeup on and their hair done…They’re seriously gorgeous. BUT, make no mistake, these chicks are SERIOUS about fishing and about winning that money. When we arrive to the dock it’s dark and everyone is looking for their guide and their boat. And there’s a lot of good luck wishes and just an overall feeling of anticipation and so much excitement.

We fish from sunrise until 1:00. It’s about 5 ½ – 6 hours of fishing. We usually start drinking around 8:45 LOL. However, we, too, are very serious about winning. And I don’t mind bragging a bit here…We’re a pretty darn good team. We each have our “way” and we just fish well together. The girls say that I start freaking out at around 11:30. Meaning, if we don’t have the right fish in the boat by 11:30, I start panicking and running my mouth a little bit. I don’t deny it 🙂

On the boat, we are fishing for nearly the whole time. Unless we’re moving locations, we’re fishing. And my teammates are NOTHING short of hilarious. A lot of the conversation is NOT things I’ll admit to on the internet (this year they brought up a topic that was so insanely disgusting, I challenged that it was even real. A procedure for men, it was. And after a little Googling, turns out it IS a real thing), but we keep each other rolling the entire time. The combination of our competitive natures + each other + the sun and the water…It’s just the. best. time.

Our boat has to be visible by 1:00 in order to remain in good standing. When you arrive back at the dock, everyone is eyeing each other’s bag o’ fish. Sizing up the competition. Our fish are weighed and measured and recorded.

Then we go back to the hotel and there’s a huge board where all the teams and their rankings are listed for Day One. It is so fun to see what place we’re in at that point.

That night we’re on our own for dinner and again everyone heads to the bar for drinks and dancing after.

The next morning (Saturday) is the same process – up early, head to the dock, take off at sunrise and fish until 1:00. This is when it starts to get nerve-wracking as you see everyone bringing in their fish (or not) and there’s no telling who’s at the top of the leaderboard. We head back to the hotel and wait on the tournament staff to tally results. When they arrive, they write in everyone’s weight (the tournament is judged by whoever gets the most fish by weight) who didn’t win first. And they leave off the top ten places. So, you know if you’re in the top ten pretty quickly and that is SO EXCITING. Then they begin announcing the winners and giving out trophies (and MONEY to the top 3 teams). They list everyone out one at a time, beginning with 10th place so you’re just sitting there in anticipation thinking, “Are we going to be announced next?” And each place, 9th, 8th, 7th, etc. when your team isn’t called, you just know you did really well.  And everyone is truly happy for the winners. I can’t lie that I am disappointed when we don’t place because we really give it our all but we are genuinely happy for the winners too.

After all the results are announced, there’s lots of cheering and hugs and smiles and pictures with trophies (here’s mine from this year).

It really is incredibly satisfying and joyous and just gives me so much LIFE. And the older I get, the more I crave experiences. It’s in the deep connections to friends and family and places that I really feel connected to God and all that He brings to my life.

That night, Saturday night, we really let loose as the tournament is officially over. It’s our tradition to have a fancy dinner at the hotel steakhouse. There’s usually 8-10 of us and it takes FOR-EV-ER but I don’t care. It’s delicious and wonderful and fun to get all dressed up since we’ve been in our fishing gear and sweaty for 2 days. Afterwards, there’s dancing and drinks (surprise!) and so much laughter.

On Sunday morning, we pack our stuff and hail the bell guys, who smile politely as they haul all 75 of our bags and half-packed crap down to our cars. My sister-in-law and I make the hour drive back to the airport and I savor those last minutes with her recapping the trip and laughing so hard.

It’s always bittersweet saying goodbye to everyone, knowing I won’t see them for another year, but it makes the trip that much more precious to me.

As a women business owner with a husband, kids, pets, a home, a vacation home, and a million other important people, places, and things in my life, breaking free from the routine and traveling with women is one of the ways I press reset. The Redfish Rodeo is practically a sacred annual event on my calendar and it never disappoints.

Do you have any must-do annual trips, either for yourself as part of your self-care plan or with your family? I’d love to hear about them, girl! Leave me a comment below.


November 9, 2018

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