Angela Rants (@SwissArmieLife on Instagram) caught her first saltwater fish while reeling from a kayak off Jekyll Island, Georgia. It was a bull redfish — her first redfish, too (obviously). She figures it weighed 35 or 40 pounds.
“It was awesome, I got the whole thing on my GoPro,” she says. “But then I rolled my kayak on the way back to shore and lost it. I still got a photo, though!”
And that statement offer great insight into Angela: She seeks experiences, and when adversity strikes, she looks for the positives and takes those away with her.
Originally from New Mexico, Angela grew up fishing in the San Juans with her dad, an avid fly and trout angler.
“My dad was a trout guy,” she says. “He shunned any other fish.”
And because of her dad, Angela’s most memorable (and biggest) fish was a massive lake trout she caught in Utah.
“When I went to see this guide, my dad was in the hospital with cancer. He only had a couple months left,” she said. “This guy had invited me out knowing that I needed something positive in my life. He told me he would take care of everything I just needed to get there. It was my first guided trip.”
After catching the monster, Angela sent a picture to her dad in the hospital.
“He cried. He would not stop talking about that fish,” she said. “It was even part of his last dying words to me… Was how proud he was and that that was the biggest trout that he had ever seen.”
For Angela, the whole experience was a watershed moment in her life.
She says one of the things that drives her to keep fishing is “to spend time with [my dad] now, as he has passed. Always trying to outdo that fish and hoping he’s watching.”
At the same time, working with that first guide, Angela realized the direction in which she wanted to take her fishing career.
“This is also where is Swiss began,” Angela says. Swiss Armie Life signifies her ability “to do just about anything.”
“I wanted to help this guide bring this joy to more people: By getting his name out there; sharing my photos and putting his information on them,” she says. “It spread like the cancer… But a blessing instead of a curse.”
In particular, Angela loves helping smaller, local guides, tackle shops, and fishing brands market their products.
“I want to cut through the commercialism and bring back the passion for fishing,” she says. “I want to remind people why they started fishing in the first place. And every guide I help, helps make my dreams come true.”
This, in turn, feeds Angela’s soul after some extremely negative experiences in the fishing industry.
“The industry really did break my heart,” she says. “And broke my dreams.”
After giving over a considerable amount of time to the industry, Angela became frustrated that she couldn’t make ends meet unless she was willing to compromise her values and let herself be exploited. So she pulled up her stakes.
“I got rid of all of my belongings,” she says. “ And what I had left was in a storage unit in Missouri that ended up getting broken into and stolen while I was helping flood victims in Louisiana.”
Angela is an admitted “Gyspy Soul” who traveled the country with her dog, Wilson, and a teardrop camper she calls her “spaceship.”
At the moment she’s settled in Jacksonville, Florida and making her living as a roofer and photographer.
“There [have] been so many fish and so many adventures in between,” Angela says. “I fish more now than I ever have in my entire life — even with my schedule. My line is wet more than most! And that’s enough to make me happy while saving my nest egg.”
Her current experiment is catching whatever she can on an ice fishing rod — “It fits in my tackle box” — and four-pound-test line. She’s landed several sweet largemouth bass during the experiment, as well as a carp the size of a toddler, which she caught (appropriately) using pepperoni pizza crust as bait.
“When I’m fishing, or doing anything else, I just want to find adventure,” Angela says.
She says she’d love to do something like “a mini-‘River Monsters,’ just a quest to see what’s out here.”
“And that’s what keeps me fishing,” she says. “The tug on the end of line is exciting. The mystery of what’s down there — just throw in a hook with something on it, and something will hit it.”
Chasing those mysteries and finding such experiences fuel Angela.
“I learned that it was not what you had that made you happiest but what you experienced and what you felt,” she says. “It was easy to let everything go — Once I realized everything… was nothing at all.”