My name is Rachel Von Fleck, and I am a fairly tall, happy, goofy angler and hunter living in Southern California.
In order to get to know me a little bit better, I wanted to share what influenced me to lead the lifestyle I live today.
When asked about childhood, I often balk at the question “Did you grow up hunting and fishing?”
A big part of me wishes I could say “Yes; I was born and raised in it!” But that is not the case. Due to that, I used to hesitate, or even feel like a fraud, in saying I am an angler and a hunter, since it only became a big part of my life in recent years.
Growing Up in Suburbia
I grew up in Southern California, and for much of my life that consisted of living in different track homes throughout the years. When we lived in a gated track home in Oceanside, we used to sneak across the road to the creek and hunt for crawdads using a hot dog and a piece of string. I remember the pure joy we felt as we caught these “baby lobsters” and brought them home in a smelly bucket to tell our parents we were going to eat them (to great surprise, our parents always said “no”).
In between the cookie cutter houses, I was lucky enough to live on a ranch for a few years. My family owned horses, cows, sheep, pigs, goats, ducks, turkeys, chickens, a potbellied pig, and a large pack of dogs. This is the time in my life when I went from a little girl who was in awe of horses and turned into a full-fledged horse-crazy girl! I was obsessed with horses, and when we weren’t riding them, I was day-dreaming about them or sketching them in a notebook. Later in life that passion led me to work with horses as a farrier for a couple years.
My Introduction to Fishing and Hunting
A big part of me wishes I grew up in hunting and fishing. Don’t get me wrong, I was blessed with loving parents who provided so many wonderful things for my siblings and me. We had beautiful houses we grew up in, participated in many different team sports, took extravagant family vacations, and had toys such as bikes, rollerblades, and skateboards. We were supported both intellectually and emotionally. Our parents taught us manners and ingrained so deeply the show of respect and compassion not only to elders, but to all living creatures, and I adore them for that. I just didn’t grown up in the wilderness or in a place that led me down the path I follow now.
Around eighteen, I was introduced to someone who is still a good friend of mine to this day. On one of our weekend hangouts, he dragged me out to a rock quarry in the desert and put a shotgun in my hand. I’d only shot a few times with friends growing up, so I still had gun fear. I knew gun safety and the basics, but still wasn’t comfortable around guns. After many weekends of shooting with him and other friends, I grew more confident around weapons and with my abilities.
When I was twenty, I dated someone who showed me a whole new world by bringing me into small-game hunting, off-roading, hiking, camping, and more shooting. I had an abrupt change about a year into my wonderful new life of adventure, and went from paying a couple hundred dollars in rent with no real car payment to moving into an apartment and buying my first new car. I quickly realized I needed a second job to get by. Giving all that up for a second job and seven days of work a week was hard, but I did it. Being young and ambitious, I even decided a third job and extra income sounded good, so my life was consumed with 90 hour work weeks and many hours of commuting.
A couple months into the chaos, I started feeling down and missed having free time or fun, so I woke up at 4:30 am before work one day (after only getting off work at 2:30 am), and drove down to the lake to fish. I was only able to spend an hour and a half there before heading back home to go to work, but it was the first peaceful moment I had found in months.
I had no idea what I was doing and simply went out with a rod, a bobber, and some PowerBait. I watched what the guys around me were doing and tossed my line out. Of the many short mornings spent down on the water, I only caught one fish. The happiness of catching my first fish since a child was indescribable. The first thought that flashed through my mind was disbelief, followed by sheer panic and excitement to land it. After a short fight, I had had successfully reeled in my first rainbow trout. I was hooked.
As quickly as I felt hooked, the group of people I had gone fishing with were swiftly pulled out of my life. I was once again a twenty-something year old girl who lived in suburbia and had no access to any fishing gear or guns, so participating in these activities were difficult.
As silly as it may sound to some people, it is really hard to get into new hobbies when you have no way to get a foot in. Having no idea what you’re looking for when going to shop for a fishing rod and reel is quite intimidating. I plucked up some courage and went to buy fishing gear multiple times, only to be chased out by lack of an associate’s help or blatant disrespect shown by asking “are you buying a gift for your boyfriend?” because I was a woman.
I found the same issue when looking to buy my first gun, until I found a small, local shop that actually helped me and made me feel welcomed. I finally pulled the trigger and bought my first handgun at twenty-two; I chose a brand I had shot before and was comfortable with. I was ecstatic and felt so accomplished. I went out and did something I never thought I could do.
Who I Am Today
Fast forward almost seven years. I’m confident with my revolver and around other weapons. As an adult, I finally started to embrace femininity and do away with the strictly “tomboy” mentality I had as a child. I joined a gym, and staying strong, fit, and active has become a regular part of my life. I developed confidence in both body and mind that I never knew was in me. I bought a recurve bow and fell in love with archery; I plan to do my first big-game archery hunt next year.
I started fishing more and more in 2015. I’ve always loved it since the first time I held a rod and reel, but I really developed a passion for it over the last year–more than a passion, some would call it an obsession. I think about fishing all day and dream about it at night. I work for a technology-based company and sitting in front of the computer while I wait for Friday to come around can be tough, but when it does, all is well. I met the love of my life who is also my fishing partner; he supports me, loves me, and pushes me to be a better version of myself every day.
I used to live to work, and now I work to live, because it allows me to live my life the way I want to adventuring in every spare moment I have!
My Love for Fishing
When asked what my favorite type of fishing is, the word “Bass” immediately pops into my head, which is then smashed into by “Trout”, which then then collides with “Salt Water”. Some might call it indecisive, but asking me to choose my favorite type of fishing is comparable to what I imagine asking someone to pick their favorite child is like.
- Trout fishing to me used to be chucking PowerBait into a lake or tossing in a bobber with a nightcrawler. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate how picky trout can be (especially line-picky) and how much skill is involved to really figure them out and fish them hard. My favorite way to fish trout is by throwing jigs; my lure of choice is Hookup Bait custom jigs in 1/16 or 1/32 depending on the depth of the water. For me, trout fishing is a 4:00 am wake-up call followed by packing the truck and driving to the lake, most of the time only ending when the sun goes down. If we have an empty freezer we’ll keep a few trout to make smoked trout candy, but other than that we prefer to catch and release where allowed.
- Bass fishing to me in an entirely different thrill as there are so many different ways to fish them. I’m also a tackle addict and have such a wide-range of bass gear that I’m always working on learning to fish my different lures more effectively. We tend to go after bass more on leisurely weekends where we have three to four hours to fish or multiple breaks during the day to get down to the lake at different times. I love tossing spinner baits and crank baits, throwing frogs in the morning or right before dark, night fishing, or even occasionally fishing with live bait and just killing it! Bass to me is all about sport; it’s catch and release for us.
- Salt water fishing is a completely different world. The amount of different species you can pull up is just incredible, and I feel like it’s always an exciting adventure or surprise when I’m reeling in a catch. I try to get on a bunch of half-day trips throughout the year and at least one or two 2-day trips out of San Diego or Dana Point.
Regardless of what species I’m fishing, I’m always working to better my skills and absorb as much knowledge as I can. I want to be the best angler I can, not for anyone else, but because it enables me to connect that much closer with my environment and nature.
I am a strong believer in eating the organic, wonderful, wild-caught fish and meat that comes from the lifestyle I live. I have developed so much appreciation and am thankful for the food they are able to provide for me and those people close to me. I do not kill mindlessly, and I know the significance of every creature’s life. Therefore, I take great care in making sure that those animals or fish I harvest are put to good use, even to the point scraps left over from fish are fed to tegus or put into the ground for fertilizer for plants.
I love being able to support something so natural, instead of always needing to turn to the captive-raised, confined lives of much of the meat purchased today. Plus, it just tastes good.
Connect with Me
Facebook: Rachel Von Fleck