Lebanon’s Dianna Montgomery began fishing with her dad as a little girl, got hooked on tournament fishing by her husband Eric in 2008, and has been holding her own in a male-dominated sport ever since.
Dianna was one of only five women among 302 pro anglers to qualify for the recent Ray Scott National Championship tournament in Anderson, S.C., and the only one of the five to make the final round of 25. She finished in 12th place.
“I’m pretty proud of that – to finish 12th among that many good fishermen,” says Dianna, an employee at Leviton Manufacturing. “I’ve been doing this for sometime now, and I think I’m getting better at it.”
Even though she competes against – and often beats – a lot of the guys, Dianna has encountered no resentment.
“It’s just the opposite,” she says. “Everybody on the circuit has been super-nice. The guys are all friendly and helpful and willing to give me advice. They’ve taught me a lot that’s made me a better tournament fisherman.”
Dianna’s biggest payday during her years on the pro circuit has been $1,500. She has been in tournaments that paid as much as $50,000 in first-place cash and prizes such as boats and motors.
“That’s the one I dream about,” she says. “If I could just win one of those, it would give me the career boost and funding I need. It’s very expensive traveling to tournaments. You have to have good sponsors, and you need to finish up the money.”
Dianna says she has been fortunate with sponsors; she currently has Two Rivers Ford, Anderson Marine and MadBad Lures, on which she caught all of her fish during the first three days of the recent tournament. She weighed in an impressive four-day catch of 28 pounds, 9 ounces.
While getting paid to go fishing sounds like a fun way to make a living, Dianna says there’s a lot of time and effort involved. For example, she spends considerable time on the water pre-fishing, before a tournament ever kicks off.
One day last week, she towed her boat to work with her so that she could depart immediately for the lake after her shift was over.
She plans to fish about a dozen lower-level tournaments on Old Hickory Lake before her next big one in August, out of Paris Landing on Kentucky Lake.
When Dianna can’t be joined by her husband or stepson, she fishes alone. Her husband checks on her regularly via cell phone to make sure she’s OK. There have been incidents of vandalism – and worse – at some area boat ramps this year.
“I fish out of Flippers and there’s usually lots of other fishermen around so I feel safe there,” she says. “But fortunately these days fishing alone is something you have to be careful about.”
While dreaming about the elusive big payday, Dianna is enjoying her experience as a semi-pro angler.
“It’s fun, even though there’s some stress and pressure involved,” she says. “The more I do it the more I like it.”
That’s why she keeps plugging away.