Fishing With Kenny | It’s a Woman’s World
article by KENNY COVINGTON
I have bass fished out of a kayak just once before and it was a memorable trip to north Arkansas fishing for smallmouth with one my lifelong friends, Bubba Jones. The one thing I took away from that trip, floating down the small rivers and streams, was the amount of work and skill it took to successfully fish in the kayak will test your body, both mentally and physically.
Whitney Cook and her husband Andrew, have two children, daughter Bristol and son Wyatt. Being a wife, holding down a full-time job and raising two kids, this petite resident of Farmerville, Louisiana knows a thing or two about multi-tasking and making the best use of her time. To add to her already overwhelming responsibilities, Whitney Cook is also a fisherperson.
Raised in a family that was male dominant, Whitney often found herself tagging along with her brothers and cousins on outdoor related activities. “Oh, she won’t go because the weather is too bad or for this reason or that reason,” she told me with a laugh. “They didn’t realize how much I loved being outdoors and that love has stayed with me.”
I first met Whitney after competing in a tournament on Lake Darbonne as I was walking across the parking lot towards my truck. I spotted a small group of people standing around a trailer loaded with a kayak, so I walked over to investigate the scene. As I walked closer I could tell this was not your normal kayak, but one used for fishing.
“That’s a nice set up you have there. Hi, my name is Kenny” I said introducing myself to the boat’s owner. “Did you have any luck?”
“Well, thank you, my name is Whitney,” she replied.
“No, I just got out for a while. I was just doing a bit of looking around, enjoying the good weather while I can.”
As we continued to talk about her kayak, I was struck by Whitney’s passion for fishing and for the outdoors in general. Her outlook was refreshing, honest, and true to her spirit. Finding those qualities is rare these days and I when I spoke to her about this month’s “Bayou Life Fishing with Kenny” article, her honest thoughts and opinions were from a wise soul, much older than she is.
When I asked Whitney why she preferred fishing from a kayak as compared to a boat, her answer was quite reflective and one I was not expecting. “I compare kayak fishing to boat fishing to the difference between hunting with a bow or a gun. Bow hunting brings you closer to the action, it’s harder work (especially if using a compound) compared to rifle hunting. A kayak is like bow hunting to me. The advantages are I can get a kayak in places a boat can’t, the advantage of a boat is going wherever you please!”
The tournament bug, competing in and winning her first kayak event. “What an awesome experience. I think it was 20 degrees that morning, the day before we had 25 mph north winds. It was about a month before MLF came here and we were getting hammered with wintry mixes and cold weather. It was brutal weather; but winning that tournament gave me the confidence of knowing I could hold my own against the competition.”
“I just fished a Bassmaster kayak tournament on Caney, the beginning of December, finishing 9th out of 31 anglers. I just registered for Caddo/Bistineau HOBIE BOS tournament for March. There’s some reputable leagues that combine east Texas and south Louisiana and are merging into north Louisiana. I plan to try and fish those as well. Hopefully I can enter as a co-angler for the East Texas Lady Anglers trail as well this year. I love it all, but I do it for fun, growth, and competition mainly. Besides, tournaments give me an unhealthy habit of blowing money!”
So, being a kayak angler, what role did professional kayak angler Kristine Fischer play in lighting this competitive fire? “She influenced me to get into the kayak fishing, and at the time it was a reasonable start, both financially and experience wise to gain confidence in electronics, focusing on just slow fishing, picking areas apart rather than running and gunning using a boat. I believe we have similar outlooks and values. How she handles herself is something I really admire and appreciate. I would rather be known as a woman who has been a positive influence and someone for girls to look up to because I fish, not a girl who holds up fish in a picture for a few likes. That is something Kristine strongly believes in, and I do as well.
How can fishing be more than just a competitive outlet? “Being on the water is the best way I know to find myself again, away from all the roles in everyday life. Ever since I was four, I can remember feeding and catching catfish with a cane pole out of a west Memphis farm pond. As you can see, I’ve always been a girl who loves the outdoors, but sometimes you can’t spend as much time on your passions as you would like, when you’re working, being a parent or just trying to get through life. It can be easy for you to lose your identity. Fishing is something I can always turn back to. I feel I can reconnect with God.”
When Whitney asked me about a recent tournament I had fished on Caney, I told when the lake is fishing to my strengths, I do well but if it doesn’t, I tend to struggle. She then said, “My strengths are probably my determination, and willingness to learn. My weakness is still not knowing enough.” Whitney, I hope you understand that weakness can also be your strength.
In my life I have been fortunate to have met all my angling heroes, having left being an even bigger fan than I was before. I have questioned the direction this sport is going and even the mindset of the anglers. After meeting and getting a chance to know Whitney Cook, I have a renewed sense of optimism about the sport and the younger generation who fish. I thank her for her time.
It looks like we have run out of time and space for another month. Be careful out on the water, please be respectful and leave your favorite lake in better condition than the way you found it. Catch one for me and I will see you next month!