Every time Chasten Whitfield fishes Florida waters in her custom-built boat, she attracts attention. The boat is wrapped with bold pink letters that spell out the name of her brand, “Chastenation,” and the 18-year-old is well-known for her tournament winnings and avid angler life. However, what makes Chasten stand out amongst her competition is not her fishing talent alone; it is what she does with her winnings.
Chasten entered her first fishing tournament as a 12-year-old, after being teased by other kids about her love of fishing because she is female and after some encouragement from her mother. It was surprising that she won 1st place in the tourney, but Chasten shocked everybody when she handed back the check worth hundreds of dollars.
“I was like, I’m 12 year’s old…what am I going to do with this?”
This wasn’t her first philanthropic endeavor. As a younger child, Chasten raised money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital by having yard sales and selling oranges she hand-picked. Her history of giving began at a young age, and in fishing she found a way to continue giving while doing what she loves.
Since that first tournament, Chasten has continued to charitably give back her winnings, but she also teaches children how to fish and takes disadvantaged children out on her boat, which is customized to accommodate wheel chairs.
One of her favorite experiences was seeing a boy with spina bifida
catch a Snapper on her boat.
“He was like, ‘Oh my God! I caught a fish! I caught a fish!’ and then started doing donuts in my boat in the wheelchair he was sitting in.”
Chasten wants to create a television show based on her fishing experiences with disadvantaged children. She says she’s a big fan of the saying, “Tackle boxes, not Xboxes,” and she encourages people to take others outside fishing, even if they’ve never been.
“Take your kids fishing too,” she said.
Because she was able to graduate early, Chasten is now fishing every day.
“I like inshore fishing. I like it when it’s calm, and it’s all pretty.”
She is also getting ready to attend Savannah College of Art and Design where she is sure to be an asset on their women’s fishing team.
“I’m quickly moving my way into bass fishing,” she said.
She credits many people with her early accomplishments including her mother, a woman who used to fish the same canals where Chasten lives now.
“She did teach me how to fish,” said Chasten. “My mom has always taught me to do what is right for the right reasons…I would for sure say she is my inspiration.”
Chasten also credits her friends and sponsors who help to make up what she calls the “Chastenation.”
Fishing is surprisingly not in the message that Chasten aims to deliver. Rather, she promotes the freedom to be whoever you are.
“I am trying to tell them to do whatever they want. Do what makes them happy. Don’t listen to what other people say. Let people make fun of you…just do what makes you happy.”