Name: Erica Meichtry
Hometown: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Current Residence: Tampa
Angler Erica Meichtry (pronounced My-tree) is about as all-American as a girl can get. Her blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty paired with her bright smile and banging bod has garnered over 120,000 Instagram followers and a spot on the Salt Life Pro Team. And while she looks like a prototypical Florida girl, Erica hails from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and grew up fishing with her beloved Pop Pop in New York.
Q. You’re originally from Pennsylvania. What brought you to Florida?
I’m more of a warm weather and water person. I’m just not a cold-weather person, so I knew I’d be happier in a warm-weather climate. When I was 22, I packed up my car and moved down to Florida. My grandmother lives in Florida, so I initially moved in with her. I knew no one else other than my grandmother when I got here. It was the best decision I ever made.
Q. How did you get into fishing?
My mom’s parents lived in New York, and my mom’s dad, my Pop Pop, grew up on the water, was a fisherman, and owned a fishing store. We would go see them almost every weekend, so I grew up fishing since I was in diapers. But the fishing in New York is so different from Florida. Up there we would fish for fluke and flounder—it’s called bottom fishing. So when I got to Florida, I bought a kayak so I could go out and teach myself to fish the flats. There’s a huge learning curve, but I absolutely love it.
Q. The old saying goes that there are lots of fish in the sea. What’s your favorite thing to fish for and why?
My favorite species are red fish and snook because I fish for them regularly, and I’ve gotten pretty good at catching them. That makes it fun. They’re gorgeous fish. Redfish put up a great fight, and snook are more difficult to bring in. I don’t use a lot of live bait; I prefer artificial lures. Fishing is a skill that takes a lot of practice. It’s fun to perfect it and get better and better.
Q. What’s your role with Salt Life Pro?
They’re an amazing company—it’s a family vibe. I signed on two years ago, and it’s great to be part of a team like this. It doesn’t even feel like work. They sponsor me for apparel and have given me an opportunity to do things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. We took a team trip to go scuba diving with sharks. It was such a cool experience. I had never been diving before, but Salt Life paid for me to get certified.
Q. You took a month-long sailing and fishing trip around the Bahamas. What were the most memorable parts of the trip?
It was my favorite vacation I’ve ever taken. We were fishing the whole time. We set sail from West Palm, cut over to West End, and worked our way around the Abacos Islands (the northernmost islands in the Bahamas). We were trawling the whole time, but we’d also anchor and take the dinghy out to fish and explore. We caught a lot of triggerfish, muttonhead snapper, and bonefish using light tackle. It was so much fun catching these huge fish with the light tackle.
Q. You have over 120,000 followers on Instagram. How has social media affected your fishing and visibility?
The recognition is cool. It’s neat that people can follow my story and follow my life and see all the cool fish I’m catching.
Q. What’s your best the-one-that-got-away story?
On my first fishing trip when I moved to Florida, a friend helped me land a Goliath Grouper that probably weighed 50 pounds. These fish are extremely large and very difficult to catch. I got one and was reeling it up. We got him all the way to the boat, and he just shook off the hook. I don’t even have a picture for proof. I have a memory of him by the boat. It was a great fight.
Q. What’s the best/worst fishing-related pick up line you’ve heard?
I get a ton of comments on my Instagram posts, and people message me all the time. Some just ask me to go fishing with them, but I have heard from a lot of guys who apparently want to “reel me in.”
Q. You’re stranded on a desert island. What three things do you have with you?
An axe or some sort of cutting tool. A firestarter. And of course a fishing pole so I can catch my own fish for food.
Q. Florida is the Sunshine State. What’s your idea of a perfect Florida day?
I’m a morning person so I’d get up early and take the dogs out. I’d want a nice, sunny day with minimal winds (for fishing reasons). I’d just want a relaxing day on the water with calm and quiet. I love the serenity of being out on the water.
Q. Who’s your dream fishing partner and why?
My boyfriend is the best fisherman I know, but I’d pick my Pop Pop. He taught me to fish, and he was so incredibly knowledgeable. If I could fish with him again, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Q. You fish both freshwater and saltwater. Do you prefer one over the other?
My house in Tampa is on a small lake so I do fish for bass, speck, and bluegill, but I like saltwater fishing more because there is more of a variety of fish to catch. We usually catch and release unless we are planning to eat it. I’ve gotten really big into cooking so I keep fish if I’m going to cook it.
Q. How would you encourage more women to try fishing or tell a guy how to get his significant other out on the water?
A lot of girls might not want to spend the whole day fishing, but they might want to lay out on the boat. Just being out there might spark their interest. I think just bringing someone out on the water is the key. I think a lot of people are interested in fishing, but they need to get their foot in the door. Fishing comes from learning from someone else so just getting out there and watching can do it.