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 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 first in the series can be found by clicking here. The third in the series can be found by clicking here.
BY SHERI TRUSTY
Christy Vineyard of Marblehead trained to be a charter captain the hard way: On international waters. Vineyard, who has a Ph.D. in financial management and economics, worked as a professor during the school year and spent her summers in the Virgin Islands. Over 20 years ago, her love of salt water fishing inspired her to also earn her charter captain’s license.
Although some male captains believed in her enough to mentor her, others doubted a woman could handle the job.
“International fishing (on salt water) was a little more challenging than Lake Erie. You’re dealing with people from all over the place, and you really had to prove yourself,” Vineyard said. “There was a serious glass ceiling to break through.”
After she retired from teaching, Vineyard was ready to return to Ohio to be near family and focus on chartering in freshwater out on Lake Erie.
“When you’re living on an island, things get a little crazy. COVID hit, and two Cat-5 hurricanes came through right before I came home,” she said. “I decided it was time to retire and turn my hobby into a profession.”
Vineyard, who owns Fishing Tiger Charters in Marblehead, said she received little pushback as a Lake Erie female charter captain.
“Up here, everyone’s been pretty awesome. Sometimes, the captains are a little standoffish until they realize I know what I’m doing,” she said. “You put your clients on fish, and all of a sudden you’re a goddess.”
Vineyard serves a mix of clientele. Although most of her clients are men, she is always happy to welcome children on her boat, and she enjoys when wives accompany their husbands on fishing trips.
If the women are on the boat because they love their husbands but aren’t too fond of fishing, Vineyard works hard to help them have fun, she said.
“I pay special attention to the wives. It changes their attitudes about fishing with their husbands,” Vineyard said. “It’s nice when I can convince the wives to love fishing.”