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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Kayla Nevius

Catch Kayla Nevius If You Can

NAME: Kayla Nevius 
AGE: 32 
HOME: California 
SOCIALS: Instagram/TikTok—@kayla_nevius; YouTube—@kaylanevius 

H&B: Tell me about growing up in California. Who got you into fishing and hunting? 

Kayla Nevius: I was born and raised in a small town in California with a lake and a river, surrounded by public land and mountains, so it was like an outdoor playground. Both of my parents were good about keeping me in the outdoors, and my dad got me into hunting and fishing at a young age. I was raised fishing from the bank using nightcrawlers and live crawdads. I had a passion for it from that moment on. My dad lit the flame, and I fueled the fire.  

After I graduated college, I got more serious about hunting and fishing. I bought my first bow and started archery hunting, and I bought my first boat and got way more serious about bass fishing. Before buying my boat, I had only fished from a boat one time, so it was a self-taught thing. At one point, on a live crawdad, I caught a 10.5-pound bass, and I posted it. That sort of kicked off my social media presence. At the time, I only had 100 followers on Instagram, but a fishing page ended up reposting the picture, and it circulated to a few other pages, and my Instagram grew to about 15,000 followers in the first few days, so I decided to go with it and hoped an opportunity would come from it. I just continued to stay true to myself and kept posting about the things that I love, and I’m grateful that I did. 

How did you teach yourself to bass fish? 

After I bought my boat, I started teaching myself about traditional tackle. I’d go to  

Walmart and buy spinnerbaits and throw them for a few weeks until I felt confident, and then I’d go buy crankbaits, and I’d throw those until I was catching fish. I did a lot of research on YouTube and online and listened to podcasts. I’d spend all my free time out on the water. I was also going through a very difficult time then, so I really dove into the outdoors—it became my safe place. I was so addicted to it—every second I could spend on the water, I did. I’d drive my truck and boat to work so I could stop at the lake on my way home and fish for a half hour. I was obsessed and wanted to do it every second that I could—I wanted to be outdoors fishing all the time. 

What is your favorite thing to fish for, and where do you prefer to fish? 

Largemouth bass on my hometown lake.  

Image courtesy Kayla Nevius

What’s your most memorable catch? 

My very first 10-pounder is probably still my most memorable catch. I was still fishing from the bank, and I was by myself. I had an old stick combo that I used, and I had an 8-pound line on my reel. At that point, the biggest fish I’d caught was a 5-pounder. I hooked this fish, and it started to spool me. I started tightening the drag, and I’d gain on him—I was basically playing tug of war with this fish, and I finally got it. I remember looking at its mouth and thinking it was the biggest fish I’d ever caught. I took a picture of me and the fish. I grew up eating bass, but once I started educating myself on fishing, I understood why people catch and release. But I wanted to keep this one so I could mount it. I brought it to my 94-year-old great-grandfather’s house and took it inside in a 5-gallon bucket to show him what I’d caught. He started hysterically laughing and crying. He passed away a short time after that, so everything around that fish is very special to me. That fish changed my life and gave me so many memories—it’s really one of the most meaningful things in my life. 

Do you have a best one-that-got-away story? 

A couple of years ago, I was by myself on the boat, and it was really windy. The wind was blowing my boat toward where my bait was, and I got a bite. But it was a poor hook set, and my boat was moving toward the fish. I got the fish to the boat, and I dove my rod down just trying to keep the fish on. I started to pull it up, and it was an 11- or 12-pounder, and it would have been the biggest fish I’d ever caught. I have it all on video. He flung the bait out of his mouth at the net and swam away. I stood up and yelled and cussed a little—it was a whole moment. 

Image courtesy Kayla Nevius

You also hunt. What’s your favorite game? What’s your most memorable hunt? 

My favorite thing to hunt is mule deer. I like rifle hunting, but there’s something about archery hunting that’s exciting. Just getting that up close and personal. My first archery deer is a special one. I picked up archery hunting on my own. I got my first bow the week before the season started, and I taught myself everything I could. I hunted every single day, and I ended up getting a deer on the last weekend of the season. It’s the smallest deer I’ve killed to date, but it’s one of the best memories. All that hard work, and I made a perfect shot. Then last year it was a tough year hunting. I went on a hell hike, and when I got up there, I peeked over a ridge and saw a great deer. I set up on him and took a 350-yard shot and got him. It was super emotional for me. I was proud of myself and super grateful for the life I get to live.  

Image courtesy Kayla Nevius

Do you see yourself as a role model? 

Growing up in a small town, I didn’t really have anyone to mentor me. As a female in a male-dominated area, I didn’t have that person to look up to. If I can share what I love, I want to inspire others to get out in the outdoors also. I get messages from women and dads of daughters about how cool it is to see me out there by myself doing everything myself. I wish I’d had a female role model when I was growing up.  

You appeared on “American Airgunner.” How did that come about? 

I got an Instagram message out of the blue. I knew someone who had appeared on the show previously, so I messaged her. She told me I had to do it if I had the chance to, so I said yes, and I’m so grateful I did. I stepped way outside of my comfort zone, but I met some cool people and had a really fantastic experience. And from that, I got invited by “American Airgunner” to go on a bear hunt in Idaho, and then I went to South Africa on an airgun hunt there.  

If you could take a fishing trip with anyone, who would it be and why? 

A friend that I met through social media, and we finally met in person this year, is Macy Watkins. She’s a good person with a good heart, and she’s a really good fisherman.  

Describe your perfect day. 

Spending my day outdoors with people who make that experience even better is what it’s all about. 

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