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Larissa Marchsteiner: This Gator Girl Loves H2O

Larissa Marchsteiner (@gatorgirl1183 on Instagram; @GatorGirl on Facebook) was born and raised — and still lives — in South Florida. And reeling has almost always been a big part of her life.

“I’ve been fishing since before I remember,” she says. “There are pictures of me when I was about five years old holding fish. I started by fishing off the back dock of my grandparents’ house on Lake Okeechobee.”

It was her dad that introduced Larissa to fishing. And clearly, she started out as a freshwater angler.

“For the longest time, I didn’t I liked to eat fish,” she says. “Because it would always be bass or other things we caught out of Lake Okeechobee. I always though it was disgusting.”

But she had an epiphany when she started fishing Florida’s coastal waters.

“I was introduced to saltwater fish,” Larissa says. “And I was like, ‘Oh! This is really good!’ It was a different thing altogether.!”

These days, Larissa spends most of her fishing time offshore.

“These days I’m usually out on the water trying to get my wahoo,” she says. “I have yet to get one. That’s next on my bucket list.”

Apart from her wahoo, though, Larissa has a pretty solid offshore track record.

“I caught my first swordfish,” she says. “It weighed in at about 400 pounds, so I’m probably pretty spoiled. I can hold off catching another one for a little bit so that I’m not disappointed.”

But Larissa’s heart belongs to mahi.

“Mahi are probably my favorite,” she says. “I love the colors — watching them in the water and seeing them when they come out. And they’re delicious.”

She’s still chasing a big bull, though.

“I still want to get a big one,” she says. “I’ve caught decent-sized ones, but I still want to catch a good sixty-pounder.

Although, most of her reeling is offshore, Larissa still finds time to do some occasional inshore fishing.

“I go down to to Islamorada and fish with some charters down there,” she says. “We go after mangrove snapper and trout mainly.”

With all the time she spends on the water, Larissa needs to make sure she’s outfitted with the right gear and apparel. Recently, she tryed some pieces from TH20 Gear — who make apparel to reflect the mahi colors that Larissa loves so much.

“I love it,” she says. “It’s bright and vibrant. It really gets people’s attention — which is always good.”

She even modeled some of the apparel for a shoot with renowned marine photographer, Tony Ludovico.

When she’s not fishing herself, she’s an insurance agent (“I sell AFLAC — I sell the duck.”) and she’s teaching her 10-year-old son to fish, as well.

“He loves it,” Larissa says. “He likes bottom fishing because he feel it — there’s more action to bottom and ishore fishing, as opposed to trolling for mahi.”

To a certain extent, it doesn’t matter to Larissa whether she catches whatever species she is targeting.

“My favorite part about fishing is always seeing what is going to come up,” she says. “Because, obviously, even if you’re fishing for a specific species, you still don’t know what’s going to be on the end of the rod. I love looking for the color, whether I’m the one holding the rod or I have the gaff — what is it going to be? That excitement… that’s the adrenaline rush I love so much.”

But regardless of why she’s on the water, H20 is a big part of Larissa’s life.

“Fishing clears my mind,” she says. “It makes me at peace. Out on the water, I’m away from everything — usually, I don’t even have cell phone service — I can not think about everything else that’s going on. It’s my get-away place, whether I’m catching fish or not, just being out on the water makes me happy. It’s how I deal with life when it’s rough.”




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Michelle Dalton: A Bombchelle Reeler

“I am thirty years old and I’ve lived in the same county my whole life,” says Michelle Dalton (@bombchelle_fishing on Instagram). “I think I might be one of the only Florida natives left here.”

Michelle still lives in the same Southeast Florida area where she grew up and learned to fish in the canals and man-made lakes near her home.

“I’ve been fishing pretty much my whole life,” she says. “I was probably about six years old when my dad started taking me fishing around our house in Margate and even in Coral Springs.”

They weren’t targeting a particular species — Michelle and her dad would just see what they could pull out of the water.

“We used to wait for the rain to stop, then we’d pick through the grass and find worms to use as bait. Where we fished, we mostly caught largemouth bass and catfish,” Michelle says. “I think that a catfish was the first thing I ever caught. Throwing worms on my hook and catching some catfish was my idea of fun back then.”

Michelle didn’t try saltwater fishing until several years later.

“I didn’t get into saltwater fishing until I was a teenager,” she says. “I figured out you could actually catch fish in the ocean — I don’t know why I never thought of that before — and you could actually eat what you catch.”

She hasn’t done a whole lot of canal fishing since getting her first taste of saltwater reeling.

“It was a whole other world for me,” Michelle says. “I fell in love with saltwater fishing after that.”

While she tries to do a little inshore fishing when she can, Michelle is generally an offshore angler.

“The location where I live is not great for inshore fishing,” she says. “We don’t have a lot of the mangroves or other kinds of structure that hold the inshore fish like West Palm Beach or even Miami do.”

Although she is typically an offshore angler, the ride is not a long one to get to the fishing grounds.

“We don’t have to go out very far to catch wahoo, mahi or sailfish,” she says. “You can find them pretty much right outside of our inlet.”

In the summer they may head out to the Gulf Stream hunt for bigger fish, in particular, mahi.

“It’s not too far from here, either,” Michelle says. “It’s about thirteen miles out, although it changes throughout the year. Mahi are one of my favorite fish to catch.”

She enjoys the challenge of fishing for mahi mahi — and, as an enthusiastic seafood chef, the rewards.

“It’s fun. It’s kind of like a hunt,” Michelle says. “Find the frigate — find the bird — find the debris, find the bait, find the mahi.”

Michelle also loves chasing sailfish.

“Pacific sailfish,” she emphasizes. “Our second home is Costa Rica, outside of Quepos. We’re there a good amount and the sails are huge over there. Their Pacific sailfish are like twice the size of our Atlantic sails. It definitely makes for a fun fight. And your body feels like a noodle the next day, so it’s a great workout.”

Costa Rica is also where Michelle had one of her most memorable catches.

“The first time I caught a roosterfish was one of my favorite catches,” she says. “It’s a catch-and-release fish — pretty much the mascot of Costa Rica — and it was a tough fight. I wasn’t expecting it. At the same time, I was on this little panga and the sun’s beating down: It makes it more of an experience when I’m fighting this fish that weighs pretty much half as much as me.”

She managed to get it to the boat and get a photo op before releasing it. But Michelle only has time to fish for pleasure when she’s not fishing a tournament or heading to a destination with her Pelagic Fishing Team.

At the same time, enjoys being an ambassador for the sport, especially when it comes to encouraging more women to pick up a rod and reel.

“I love seeing more lady anglers in the sport,” Michelle says. “A lot of people see fishing as a man’s sport. So, I take the opportunities to keep learning and pick up new techniques. And influence other women to get out on the water. I also love to fish with kids and teach young girls how to do it.”

“I guess it’s just in my blood,” she says. “I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be fishing.”