Women of the Water
The month of March celebrates women in history and we have some amazing women making history here at Oregon Inlet. These ladies work right alongside of the men, without fanfare or spotlights, doing a job that they love. We'll be featuring these ladies daily through the end of the month, beginning with our youngest first mate, Zoe Smith.
Zoe Smith arrived in the world very prematurely, weighing less than a trophy citation triggerfish, but just as scrappy of a fighter as they are. Her love of the water began as a toddler and around the age of 3, she started riding out with her Daddy, Captain Bobby Smith. She fished for and landed her first fish without any help at the age of 4 and has been hooked on fishing ever since.
Zoe is one the youngest of the mates here at Oregon Inlet and one of two females serving as mates this season. When asked how she feels knowing that she might be regarded as a role model for some of the young female anglers, she replied, “When I first started fishing, I really didn’t realize that this could be the case, because I never really saw myself as a “female fisherman”, I was just one of the boys when it came to that and I’ve always called my a fisherman. While this is still true, as I’ve gotten older and spent more time on the boat, it’s become more apparent to me that I have become a role model for some young girls and many who come out fishing with us think it’s cool that I fish. While I just consider it the normal thing for me, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to show girls that, yeah it’s okay to fish and it’s fun, and you can certainly do it just as well as the guys. That being said, I really try and keep it on the classier side on the boat and social media, because I don’t like how so many girls that fish these days feel the need to pose with their fish and wear these tiny bikinis and get the wrong kind of attention from the guys. I think young girls need to be shown they can fish just as well as anyone else and let that do the talking, not their pictures.”
While she had been fishing with her Dad since she was 3, she didn’t become an official first mate until around the age of 15. “My Dad’s mate decided to try the offshore thing and Dad was looking for a new one. I honestly don’t remember what prompted me to ask him to take me on for the job, but I’ve always loved fishing and being out on the boat. Of course, the money was a nice perk for a high school kid in the summers, but I really just loved the idea of working with my Dad everyday…….and getting a good sun tan!”
When asked what is the most exciting part of a trip, Zoe beams, “Every single time we run down the “crack”(channel), I get anxious for what the trip is going to bring, because you honestly never know and every single trip is different! Then, again, nothing beats the feeling of seeing a Cobia swimming around on a change and since cobia is my favorite fish to catch, and my Dad’s favorite, you can literally feel the excitement on the boat when we get a shot at one!”
Zoe shares her love and passion for fishing and is grateful to have the opportunity to do this type of work. She says the challenge has given her a strong work ethic, “tough skin”, ability to handle emergency situations, speed and agility in tough physical conditions, and most importantly a passion she knows will continue throughout her entire life. When asked why anglers should go fishing with her, she sells the experience with heart-felt candor. “Fish-n-Fool Charters is a family-run operation, and it’s rare that you find a father-daughter team in the fishing world. I’m happy to be a part of that. Our biggest goal is to make every single one of our anglers have the most fun day on the water possible. Going fishing on the Outer Banks is truly an experience you will never forget, and I hope everyone choses Oregon Inlet Fishing Center to guide them to that experience!”
Her greatest fishing accomplishment was her first big red drum sight-casting from the bow. “It was a really nice one”, she says, “and it was a day I’ll never forget. The other captains and mates even threw me in the creek that afternoon to celebrate, which made me realize that I really could do the job and that all the guys actually respected me and considered me one of their own.” Zoe is proud of being the first in her family to go on to a four-year college to pursue her dream of becoming a Physician’s Assistant. We’re counting the days with you, girl!!!