EDITOR’S NOTE: Many thousands of anglers travel to Ottawa County each year to fish the rich waters of Lake Erie. More than 800 charter captains ply those waters, but only a small a handful are female, including Beth Mol, Christy Vineyard and Carole Vukmer. In a three-part series, the women describe their love of the water and fishing. The second in the series can be found by clicking here. The third in the series can be found by clicking here.
BY SHERI TRUSTY
When Charter Captain Beth Mol was just a little girl, she begged her father to take her fishing. He cut lengths of cane, added bobbers and, together, they caught crappies. Today, Beth owns Dunlap’s Charter Service out of East Harbor State Park Marina with her husband, Gary Mol.
“Little did I know when I met Gary this world would be my life and I would love it so much,” Beth said.
Dunlap’s Charter Service was founded in 1957 by Rick Dunlap, who passed the business to his son, Rich Dunlap. Fifteen years ago, the Mols bought the business, and Rich stayed on.
“I believe we make a really good team. It’s really special. It’s like family to us,” Beth said.
Although Mol enjoyed working as first mate with her husband, she decided six years ago to obtain a charter captain’s license. As a captain, she could add another level of expertise on the boat, but she also had a deeper reason for earning a place in the captain’s seat.
“In my previous life, I was always the bus rider, but never the bus driver,” she said. “I never wanted to be in a position of vulnerability again.”
Now, Mol mans her boat –- or it could be said that she ‘womans’ it. A female charter captain creates a bit of a paradox on the water. On one hand, she gets occasional pushback from a male angler who doesn’t want to take instructions from a woman, and she has to remind him that he “is in my office now,” Beth said.
On the other hand, a woman can bring a softer level of patience to new anglers.
“As a woman, I think we’re a little more gentle,” Mol said. “It’s a fine line to walk as a woman, but it’s worth it when I get them their fish and teach them some better fishing habits.”