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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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Shelby Callison: A ‘reel’ cowgirl

Although she just earned a BS in Agriculture (with honors, no less) from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), Shelby Callison (@ShelbyCallison_ on Instagram) wants to work in the marine industry.

“I’m planning on moving to South Florida in a few months, and I’m hoping to find something down there,” she says. “If I don’t find something in the marine industry, there’s a lot of agriculture in Florida, too.”

Although she’s from McDonough, Georgia — just south of Atlanta — and currently lives in Tifton, Georgia (where she attended ABAC), Shelby is no stranger to the ocean. In fact, a marine environment is her preferred environment.

“I grew up fishing with my granddaddy,” she says. “When I was real little I was just happy to be there with him, standing on a dock or the shore with my line in the water.”

It didn’t take long for her competitive edge to kick in.

“Then we started bass fishing, which was a little more challenging,” Shelby says. “But when I was 14, my daddy took me fishing offshore out of Daytona — and I’ve never looked back. It’s the only kind of fishing I want to do.”

But offshore fishing is not all she does. She’s also a competitive barrel racer.

“That’s the reason I’m thinking about the West Palm Beach area,” Shelby says. “The equestrian center is there, and there’s a competitive rodeo circuit.”

If she doesn’t find what she’s looking for right away, she has a back-up plan.

“I suppose I could always just crash with Hunter in Key West,” Shelby says, referring to marine photographer Hunter Ledbetter.

She was recently trapped with Hunter on Key West when Tropical Storm Alberto blew through on Memorial Day weekend.

“I was there to fish the tournament, and I wasn’t about to leave,” Shelby says. But, with no flights off the island, she caught a ride with a friend to Port St. Lucie, Florida, rented a car and drove back to Georgia from there.

Tournament fishing is something that Shelby is particularly excited about.

“It feeds my love of fishing and my competitive spirit at the same time,” she says.

At this point, though, there’s nothing she likes better than fishing for mahi mahi (dolphin).

“When I fished my first Dolphin Derby, we went out and caught nothing but this little peanut of a fish,” Shelby says. “It was the hardest fish I ever worked to catch.”

But that did nothing to dampen her enthusiasm for mahi.

“They’re my favorite fish! I love them,” she says. “I prefer to run and troll than to just sitting there waiting for something to hit.”

She caught her first bull mahi fishing with Skye Stanley and Blue Heaven Charters off Islamorada.

“It was last summer and it was such a fun fight,” Shelby says. “That bull was jumping and when we got it to the boat, I saw it go through its color changes. Mahi are such beautiful fish!”

Along with fueling her competitive nature, fishing also feeds her soul.

“I love the beauty of fishing,” Shelby says. “No matter what you’re targeting, you never know what you’re going to catch. And you’re just out there enjoying nature. The ocean is magical…”