One Woman in a Sea of Men at the FLW Tournament

Fishing since the age of three, this sport is something Shirley Crain has come to love. And being from right here in Fort Smith, she’s no stranger to Beaver Lake. Although she’s basically in her backyard, she says that doesn’t always give her an edge over the competition.

“I’m not sure that it is an advantage actually because you do a lot of what they call running and gunning,” Crain said. “Oh I know where there’s another place I could go. So you spend a lot of time running when maybe you should just settle down and try to make the most of what you’ve got.”

She’s been a victim of that.

“I never do well on this lake. It’s my home lake you’re not supposed to, and I haven’t.”

This sport brings mostly men out here on the water. But, Shirley is the only female pro angler out here.

“I don’t think the guys notice honestly. They’re here to fish. Everyone’s been real good to me. As I said they’re here to fish, and they don’t care. The fish certainly don’t know. So it really doesn’t make any difference.”

That’s something she is used to.

“My father really honestly didn’t know I was a girl until my son was born.”

Although this is a so-called sport for the boys, she says the girls can do it too. She has advice for other women who may want to join in.

“Don’t let their boyfriends or husbands give them old equipment. Get out there, get a bait caster, don’t start with spinning because that’s easy. Then you’ll never be concerned if you can do it. And that’s all there is to it. And have fun. If you enjoy it, enjoy it.”

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