School of Fish

Meet Barb Carey, creator of Wisconsin Women Fish—a popular source of education, events, and networking for female anglers from our state and beyond.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and have lived in Madison for 20 years.

How did you come to start Wisconsin Women Fish?
I have been fishing all my life and started hosting ice-fishing outings with my friends in 2003. In the early days, it was more about partying because not everybody fished. About five years ago, I started meeting women from all over the state who also loved to fish. We had a few conversations about getting a bunch of women together to fish, and it grew from there. It has now become an educational resource as well as a social one. Everyone involved loves to fish—that is the common denominator.

What is the best part of your fishing events?
At first for me it was about catching the fish, but that has totally changed. I have had so many moving experiences at these. One was when I handed out the “Most Determined Angler” award to a woman who had been fighting cancer and was in poor health. She attended the Fall Fish Camp and she had the time of her life. Her dedication in trying to fish even though it was really cold and she was weak earned her that award. She was so moved by it that she cried. Recently, another woman who has had MS for over 20 years and can barely walk attended an ice fishing class. To see these women have these opportunities, make lifelong friends, and share a common passion is better than any fish I could ever catch.

How has Wisconsin Women Fish benefitted our community?
There is no other organization that provides these opportunities for women. Fishing is a back-to-nature experience, and I am thrilled to provide a supportive group for women of all abilities to be a part of. I am the only woman on many of my sponsors’ pro staff, and hopefully I can break down some of these barriers for the women who come after me. Initially, I was trying to connect with other Madison women who fish, but at our last Fish Camp, there were women from five states who attended. Many of those who meet at these events become very close friends.

What is your hope for the future of Wisconsin Women Fish?
I would like to see it become more of a club with the organizational responsibilities shared among its members. I have spearheaded this, and done all of the creation of the events and structure. I would like to see it live beyond me and belong to all the women anglers who want to be a part of it. It’s really about being part of a team and forging new adventures. This has become very popular, and I could really use some help.

When you’re not fishing, where can we find you?
I am a very social person and have some of the greatest friends who have supported me through all my big ideas. If I am not fishing, I am connecting with friends at the Harmony Bar or in someone’s house playing cards.

What’s your next event, and where can readers learn more about it?
The big event for the summer is the Women’s Fly Fishing Clinic to be held in Avalanche, WI. For this event, we have the support of Trout Unlimited, allowing us to create a top-notch program and offer it at a low cost to women. Our signature event has become our Fall Fish Camp. That camping/fishing weekend has become very popular. My personal favorite is the Lake Superior Ice Challenge. Many women have dreamt of fishing on Lake Superior, and this event is a great angling adventure. All the events are posted on the website at wiwomenfish.com. If people sign up to be on the mailing list, or better yet a club member, they can be notified of new events as they are posted.