By Molly Kirk
Photos by Courtesy of Terri Davis
Each month in the Fishing Notes from the Field email, we at the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) highlight one of our constituents and the role fishing plays in their life. Are you an avid angler who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!
Name: Terri Davis
Hometown: Chilhowie, VA
Occupation: For 90 percent of my career I worked in supply chain as a buyer and planner in robotics and heavy equipment, but in 2018, I decided I was going to seek out and find the ultimate life of happiness and live my best life. So I quit the cubicle life, bought a small cabin bordering the Jefferson National Forest, and went to work as a recreation assistant. I’m now an instructor for the Blue Ridge Job Corps Center. The students are truly a blessing in my life. It’s amazing to watch lives being changed for the better every day.
I’m also a competitive bass angler competing on the Ladies Pro Tour and the FLW/Phoenix Bass Fishing League (PBL) Tour. I’ve had three top-five co-angler finishes in the highly male-dominated [Phoenix Bass Fishing League] and qualified to fish in the 2021 FLW Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-Americans. I’m one of only four women to have qualified for the All-Americans.
How did you get interested in fishing?
Growing up in Poor Valley, Virginia, my dad was the one that started my love for fishing. We typically always fished for catfish as our target species on a bank somewhere. He passed in 2000, but I so wish he was here to celebrate some of my wins with me.
What do you love about fishing?
What I love most about fishing Is the happiness it brings me. It’s food for my soul, and it’s my time with God. Unless I am in a tournament, I am most likely alone on my boat on a lake somewhere. I love my “me” time because I’m on my own schedule, doing my own thing, and without a care in the world.
Who was your fishing mentor?
I did not start bass fishing competitively until 2018. In 2018 a good friend of mine, Calvin McCaskill, told me he would take me on my first bass tournament if I gave up my Zebco 33 and invested In a real tackle box (instead of my pond-hopping five-gallon bucket) and learn how to use a bait caster. From that moment it was game on. I practiced and practiced and finally earned a spot as a co-angler on the back of his boat. That first tournament lit a fire in me that I can’t describe. Even to this day, I get so pumped for tournament days my entire body literally shakes from the amount of adrenaline that runs through my blood.
I’ve had many mentors throughout the last three years. In 2019, I joined the Ladies Bass Anglers Association (LBAA) and that’s was the beginning of my mentorship. My first tournament I was paired with two powerhouse lady anglers, Terri Bittner and one of the only ladies to complete in the Bass Master Classic, Pam Martin-Wells. After zeroing the first day of my first LBAA tournament, which was such a defeating day especially for a rookie, Terri Bittner was instrumental in making me not give up. She was right, as Day 2 I turned it around and ended up with fourth place and Big Fish. I went on to win Co-Angler of the Year that year.
I try to soak in every ounce of knowledge I can and from every angler I have been paired with since. In 2020 I had to fish local so I joined the FLW/BFL. I’ve learned an incredible amount from every angler I have been paired with this year as well. The FLW/BFL is male-dominated, but every angler I met treated me with the utmost respect as a lady angler and bent over backwards to help me learn. They truly are very welcoming of lady anglers and I honestly feel like every angler I have met on both the LBAA and FLW have become an extended family to me.
What’s been your most memorable day on the water?
My two most memorable days on the water were my first win for the LBAA on Toledo Bend and my top-five co-angler place at the FLW/BFL regionals on the James River, which advanced me to the FLW/BFL All-Americans in June of 2021.
At the Toledo Bend tournament, I was paired with Julie Ann Darbonne. The weather was horrendous—pouring downpours and high winds. We were in a smaller boat and didn’t have an option but to stay tucked away from the main lake for safely purposes. It worked to both of our advantage as we both took the win home that day! Every fish we caught we were hollering, dancing, and high fiving! I’m pretty sure everyone on that lake heard us that day. It was a ton of fun!
My second and equally most memorable day was getting in the top five at the FLW/BFL regionals and advancing to the All-Americans. I’ve never completely lost my composure on stage at a weigh-in, but going into that last day I knew if I landed at least 10 lbs., I had a really good chance at making the All-Americans. When I heard 10 something out of the announcer, I literally went into shock. I could not believe I advanced to the All-Americans that day and honestly still don’t. But I did and I feel truly blessed.
I hope to see more ladies out there on the water. Going as a co-angler is a great way to start. It’s cost-effective, and you don’t have to own a boat, which I find to be the main reason many ladies are not out there competing.
Are you an avid angler who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email email@example.com and let us know