Reader Athlete: Alexa Tetrault

Name: Alexa Tetrault Age: 29

Family: Husband, Cameron; 18-month-old daughter, Walker Rose; Dogs, Luna and Champ

Lives in: Milton

Works in: Marketing

Primary Sport: Fishing, snowboarding

Alexa Tetrault finds her happy place out on the water. She and her husband, Cameron, who works for Burton, love to take their Aluma Craft boat out on Lake Champlain looking for walleyes and she’s hoping her young daughter and more other women will too. She’s helping spread the word to encourage other women to fish through an Instagram account that reaches 22,000 followers.

How did you get into fishing?

I grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. and when I was a kid, my grandfather and father were into hunting and fishing so I fished on Long Island Sound. I even placed in a fishing derby for snappers when I was 11. I didn’t pursue fishing in high school and college; I hiked and skied. When I met my husband he had a boat and was into fishing and we became a team. Our date night is getting take- out dinner and going out on the boat. I fished until I was eight months pregnant and then took some time off but now we can bring Walker Rose along. 

What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?

My biggest walleye was 10 pounds but I’ve caught northern pikes that were 40 inches and I’m only 61 inches! A lot of the pike that we catch are really long so it’s a little scary to hold something half of your height. My personal best for smallmouth bass was one that weighed five pounds. I like entering derbies but I also like having personal goals like finding new species.

What competitions do you enter?

I have participated in the Lake Champlain International Father’s Day Fishing Derby every year. It is the only local competition that has a separate female division and I like that. This year I wasn’t on the board but I was the top female competitor for northern pike and that felt pretty good. I also weighed in a bass that was three pounds, eight ounces.  That’s not that impressive but you’re eligible for additional prizes if you weigh in every day.

How are you working to get more women into the sport? 

Fishing has been a male dominated sport like hunting because dating back in history, in most cultures, the men provided the food and the women did everything else. However, in Native American cultures and some others, the women fished as well. It can be an intimidating because it is so male dominated, but I’m seeing more women getting into it. When I go into a shop to buy supplies, they tend to be surprised to see a 5’ 1” girl. I like being underestimated and I like surprising them by showing that I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m always supportive when I see other women and hope to increase female participation. I’ve taken my daughter out fishing and I feel like women need to learn to be patient, confident and not intimidated or afraid of failure. Fish do get away; everybody loses them. I caught nothing. 

What species do you fish for?

We primarily fish for walleye but we’ll also catch northern pike, smallmouth bass, sheepshead, lake trout, and salmon. I really want to catch a steelhead. I lost a muskie two years that I still have regrets about. 

How does Lake Champlain compare to other lakes for fishing?

I’ve actually done most of my fishing on Lake Champlain although I have fished at Lake Carmi and a few other Vermont lakes, as well as places in upstate New York like Tupper Lake. I really like Lake Champlain because in just 20 minutes you can find new topographic areas and different species. It’s really cool to see how diverse our lake is and how much it changes. I grew up with salt water fishing which is really based on the tides but here, the temperatures and depth affects things so much. 

Do you eat any of the fish you catch and, if so, what is your favorite recipe?

We are mostly catch and release. On Lake Champlain you can keep walleye if they are bigger than 18 inches so anything between that and 25 inches, we’ll keep. We have a recipe where you bake fish in foil with lemon, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Once you take the foil off, the skin falls off and it’s really juicy. 

Do ice fish as well?

This past winter I had my first solo ice fishing trip and caught a pretty big catfish which I’d never done. It was my first time setting up the shanty and tip-ups by myself. When you’re pulling a sled with all your gear it’s a lot more work than you think. At the end of the day it’s as tiring as a day spent snowboarding. Ice fishing is really relaxing and quiet and it’s so pretty to be out on the lake. Using the auger by myself was an adventure. When the ice is a certain thickness you need an extender and it’s a lot of work to dig through that much ice. Its wild how much of a sport that actually is.

You have over 22,000 followers on your Instagram account. What do you credit that to?

I recently did a poll asking people what they liked about following me and it’s all over the board. I have a lot of female followers who like seeing my daughter and cooking posts and then the male followers who just ask about fishing. It’s very funny because most of my profile is family friendly but we only have three months of summer in Vermont and I’m going to be in a bathing suit and there are definitely comments about that. Sometimes when we’re out on the lake, people recognize us so now they’re going to know all our really good fishing spots. . 

Do you have any fishing goals?

I’d really like to have a women’s fishing clothing line. It’s hard to find water-proof, weather-proof stuff that fits well.  You can get things that keep you warm and dry but they’re not cute. I’d like some clothing that’s more tapered and better fitted. 

What do you love most about fishing?

It’s my happy place. I love being outside. When I was little I wanted to be a marine biologist. What we have underwater is amazing and so mysterious. Sometimes what you catch surprises you. It makes you feel like you’re doing something in nature and learning. It’s very scientific with weather and seasons and lures. It’s invigorating and there’s nothing like it. 

—Phyl Newbeck

 

 

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