On a quiet morning during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, a charming young lady, standing on a Hobie fishing kayak in the middle of a pool, coerced me into trying the kayak for myself. By the end of my short paddle, I knew I needed to learn more about this woman. On a windy day, just before Thanksgiving, Christina Weber and I pedaled our way along a creek near Jensen Beach, Florida to talk about fishing and ultimately, life lessons.
One could say Christina was born with a fishing rod in her hand. Her dad, Chris, had her fishing on a golf course as early as age one. “Fishing has always been a part of my life,” Christina nonchalantly said. “Saltwater or freshwater. It didn’t matter which. I just liked to fish.” Not wanting to burden to her dad with question after question, she sought her own answers. “I read sportsmen magazines, fishing reports, researched types of fish and talked to everyone I could about fishing. I was a sponge for knowledge.”
By age 15 Christina was ready to take her fishing to the next level. In the local newspaper she saw an advertisement for a youth fishing tournament through B.A.S.S. and immediately registered. “Adults volunteered their time to take youth fishing once a month. In Florida there were five to seven groups competing. We were the Rattlers,” she chuckled. Christina was a member of the Youth and Adult Federation and the Women’s Bassmaster Tour from 2006 – 2008.
Once she got her driver’s license, Christina increased her tournament schedule to two a month and started working to pay for her entry fees. At 18 she started part-time in the fishing department at Gander Mountain in Palm Beach Gardens. Graduating from high school two months later, she became full-time.
“Being a woman working in a fishing department was very frustrating,” Christina remembers. Male customers in particular doubted her knowledge and often directed rude comments her way. The five years at Gander Mountain actually were pivotal in her growth. “I appreciate all those struggles. It has made me a stronger and more confident fisherman. I don’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else in the industry. I just want to fish.”
Christina’s transition to kayak fishing happened quite by accident. “After I got married in 2011, my husband Troy and I had gone kayak fishing with a friend. It wasn’t long before we bought Hobie fishing kayaks and we haven’t looked back since.”
Hobie has revolutionized kayak fishing with their patented MirageDrive pedal. Utilizing the largest muscle group in your body frees your hands to cast, fish and retrieve. Back creeks, close-in structures or even shallow flats, are now accessible by simply raising the pedals and using your paddles. “What I like most about the kayak is one day I can be fishing a local stream in Florida, throw the kayaks on top of my truck and be fishing several states away the next day,” says Christina. “Even Alaska! If I can drive there, I can fish there.”
Becoming a member of the Florida Regional Hobie Fishing Team was a natural fit for this outgoing sportsman who loves sharing her passion for fishing with others. She attends boat shows, gives seminars, and takes people like me fishing to educate them on how easy it is to fish from a kayak. Christina is proud to promote Hobie’s brand.
By the time we had fished for about two hours with no luck. I watched as Christina stood on the front of her kayak using her flippin’ style of casting to get the fishes’ attention. Even through her concentration, her smile never wavered. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any wider we began talking about her charity work at the Children’s Holiday Fishing Classic in Wellington, Fla.
Celebrating its 24th year, this holiday event held the Saturday before Christmas, is open to all local children age 15 and younger. In conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Bass Pro Shops, the event provides everything a child needs to catch the big one. Christina grew up fishing this tournament, became a counselor in her teens and at age 20 was honored to be asked to be the tournament’s director. “You never know who you are actually introducing fishing to and how much it will affect them for years to come,” Christina said. Parents who, like me, never had the opportunity to fish as a child can also participate in the event. “It is such a wonderful event that gives everyone a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday.”
So what does 2015 hold for this vibrant, young woman? “I’m full in,” she tells me. “Fishing is my full time job.” Before each tournament she spends hours researching the weather, moon cycles, boat ramps, dams, previous storms, past tournaments and time of year. “Then of course there is the pre-fishing to put that book knowledge onto the water,” she continued. How will all this preparation pay off in the end? “Bigger tournaments paying more money,” she says. “I certainly couldn’t do this without my sponsors. Biovex has been with me from day one. Hobie, MHX, Avid Sportswear, Lucid Fishing and Nite Ize Innovations all play a huge part in my success.”
Though no fish were harmed that day, I left with great admiration for someone following her passion. Later that evening I found this quote buried at the bottom of Christina’s website: “I don’t want credit for being a lady angler; I will earn respect as a fisherman.” Is there a more important lesson for living?