Hinsdale Central girl hooked on fishing
Hinsdale Central senior Nichole Mara shows off a fish she caught. | Photo courtesy of Nichole Mara
Name: Nichole Mara
Age started fishing: “in diapers”
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:13AM
It didn’t take long for Nichole Mara to become hooked on fishing.
The Hinsdale Central senior has some very early memories of joining her dad when he would grab the tackle box and fishing poles, and head for a lake or pond.
“I started going with my dad first,” Mara said. “Ever since I was in diapers, we would go, even ice fishing. I’m an only child, and my mom fishes, too, so it was something we’ve always done together as a family.”
The family outing aspect of going fishing definitely made the sport a drawing card for Mara. But there was something else she found out very early on that made her even more attracted to fishing.
“I always had the luck,” Mara said. “I was in my first fishing tournament when I was 5, a park district tournament, and I won. I caught 69 bluegills in about two hours. It seemed like I always won when I would enter tournaments.”
Mara’s success in fishing tournaments has continued. She competed in the Illinois High School Association’s first four season’s of bass fishing competition and qualified for the state meet during her junior and senior years at Hinsdale Central.
She was one of only three girls in the state meet during her junior year and one of seven in the May 4-5 2012 state competition. Mara caught all five fish the first day for one of Central’s two two-angler entries for a total of 13 pounds 6 ounces. She also pulled in a 5-pound, 15-ounce bass during the May 3 pre-tournament round.
While bass fishing has been Mara’s focus as of late because of the competition offered for it, she still enjoys all types of fishing.
“I have the passion for fishing,” she said. “I love the whole aspect of it. I never played with Barbies when I was younger; I liked other things. I wanted to play football, and I was definitely the tomboy, especially when I was younger.”
It was a stroke of fortune for Mara when the Illinois High School Association started its bass fishing competition at the same time the just-turned 18 year old entered high school.
“It was just perfect for me because I love fishing, and I also really am competitive,” Mara said.
She said she plans to continue fishing over the summer along with working about 30 hours a week at a new job at Bass Pro Shops in Bolingbrook. She is the first female to work in the store’s fishing department.
When the summer ends, Mara is headed to college at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She plans to follow a path of study that will allow her to pursue a career as a physical education and health teacher. She also wants to coach a fishing team.
“They have the best college fishing team in the state, and I’ll continue to be a part of that there,” Mara said. “The quality of their fishing team definitely was a factor in me choosing that school.”