Julie Ball Shares it All

Where did you learn to fish? In Pensacola Florida, on the beaches and on the ponds with my brother and sister and family, I started fishing at a very young age, probably 4 or 5 years old.
Who's your favorite person to fish with? Still my mother, when she comes up, she's my biggest fan, by best fishing buddy, and my biggest competitor and she usually beats me.
Were you competitive fishing with your brother? At first he wouldn't let me fish, just watch, because you know, I was his little sister. But I loved following him fishing, with hot dogs and pieces of bread in the local ponds.
Can you tell us about your boat? I have a 31-foot cape horn, it's very fast, it has twin 250 E-techs, 500 horsepower, and it can really get up and move. It's basically a fishing machine, and it's a very sturdy boat.
Do you have any fishing heroes? As I got older, and honed in on my passion for sportfishing, I developed some idols. One of them is Marsha Bierman. They call her the high priestess of standup fishing. She catches the big fish, she goes offshore, and she doesn't do it much anymore but I've met her. She's caught big marlin, huge tuna, and she developed a technique for women that made it possible for them to fight and land big fish.
What was the technique? It's based on using your legs and not your back to catch fish. She calls it the pelvic thrust, and it's a series of shorter pumps to put leverage on the fish. She presented sport fishing in a way that said: "if I can do it you can do it," and she's not that big, and she can lick these fish. I catch a lot of big fish and I want women to know that they can too.
What equipment do you use specifically? I have a customized harness that gives you back support. And for the fighting belt, the placement is crucial. You want the belt sitting on your thighs so you can still bend your legs.
What's' the most important aspect of landing a big fish? It's your skill, and your equipment, not your size or strength.
What else has your mom caught? She's caught 50-pound tuna and larger and 60 and 70 pound amberjack and could probably catch larger.
How do you see your role as a woman role model in fishing? The role doesn't change a lot, although it has slowly. Women are more recognized in all sports now. Women don't get a lot of attention and don't have a lot of pull right now, but they are coming along in every aspect.
Is there enough encouragement for younger girls to get into fishing? I think there's more emphasis placed on other sports instead, which is a shame because we have an underutilized natural resource. My mission is to inspire people to do this and I learned early on that I have a knack to inspire people, and not just women. I love getting people out on the water and hearing the stories afterward. I get lots of positive feedback and it's very rewarding.
What is your favorite type of fishing? The thing about the Virginia fishery is that we have such a variety of fish that we can target, that it's hard to have a favorite. But I grew up catching red drum, and our fish here especially tend to be large and we can range 50 to 60 pounds, so I'll go with them.
You recently caught a 74-pound cobia, a pending world record, what was that like? Everybody's interested in the cobia, it's my latest world record and it's my only cobia record. I've kind of had my eye on it for a couple years but in fishing you have to have everything line up just right, and this summer it did. I went fishing with a buddy of mine, Rudy Lavasseur, and he's starting out a little charter business, so he's an expert at casting for cobia and he can spot them very well. I brought my rod just in case and we came across this fish sunning, and Rudy shouted to me that he saw it and it was the record. I used live bait, and once I was hooked up it was an hour and 40 minute [fight]. So it's the pending IGFA line-class record for the women's category for cobia on 20-pound test. There are a lot of larger cobia, that's a nice fish, and on light tackle it was very exciting for the entire crew.
How has participation in a largely male-dominated sport affected your career? To be honest with you it has its rewards and challenges. As a professional and as a dentist, I face the same thing, and the sportfishing world is not that much different and I take it in stride. Most guys are very supportive and give recognition where it's due. Granted in the beginning everybody is judged by their performance and skill level and achievement. There are a handful of men that aren't so supportive and there are women who aren't and it's gonna be that way anywhere but the important part is that I'm doing what I need to make me happy and inspire others to get on the water and it works so that's all that matters.
Does being a better dentist make you a better fisherwoman, or vice versa? To be honest, I do believe that the patience and the attention to detail that make individuals better dentists will make you a better fisherman so I guess that works if you want to stretch it.
What is your favorite place to fish other than Virginia? My trip to the Galapagos Islands. In 2006 I was invited to fish down there for striped marlin. It's the most beautiful place I've ever seen. The wildlife is incredible. The people are accommodating and pleasant and the fishing is just off the charts. We caught 200-plus pound marlin all day long. We were trolling and it was very effective. We caught striped marlin, black marlin, wahoo, grouper, we caught it all. Related Articles:
Floundering with Julie Ball >>
New Record Cobia >>
Drum Bonanza >>
Best of Dr. Ball >>
Outfishing Julie Ball >>
Sportfishing Calendar 2010 >>