Lori Adams, a Marco Island resident, is the consummate fisherwoman. With her vast experience in fishing, she has earned the names of “The Walleye Queen” and “Bass Mistress” in Wisconsin and signs her e-mails “Fish Hooker.”
Born and raised in southern Wisconsin, Adams learned to fish at the age of five. When her father had to spade their garden, he asked his daughter to get a can for worms. As he toiled the soil, she said she picked the worms and put them in the can. When it got too hot, her father took her fishing. Teaching her how to bait a hook and take off a fish was her first fishing experience that has lingered with her until today.
Since her father rented boats to fishermen, he suggested that Adams try to make some money selling fresh night crawlers.
“I started selling them at 25 cents a dozen, but if we had a drought, the price went to 35 cents a dozen. Eventually, I got 50 cents a dozen. One summer I made over $600 and that’s when I bought my first fishing pole,” Adams said.
She always asked the fishermen where they were fishing, especially if they brought back a lot of fish such as a big bass. Then she would go fishing the next day. Adams said she became a threat to the large mouth bass population. She added that pan fishing was fun, too.
Her father also taught her to fly fish. As she got older and began to date, she would only date someone if he knew how to fish.
“My father taught my last date to fly fish and he learned so well that we got engaged and we married in 1951. I told my husband that if he ever made me live in a house where I couldn’t look out a window and see water, we would get a divorce,” she laughingly explained.
As children came along, the family would go to northern Wisconsin on fishing trips. They did some serious fishing for walleye, crappies, jumbo perch, northern pike, and musky.
When her third child was born, she asked the doctor how much the baby weighed and he told her six pounds, 11 ounces. In her drowsy state, her response to him was, “Oh, I’ve caught walleye bigger than that!” The doctor said he thought, “Wow, this woman never stops thinking about fishing!”
In 1973, the family moved to Lake Katherine in northern Wisconsin.
“It was popular as a ‘gin clear’ lake and for its abundance of walleye. You couldn’t fish there in the daytime because the fish would see you. That’s where I got the nickname of ‘The Walleye Queen.’”
Adams went on to explain that she would be night fishing off their dock for a limit of five walleyes a night. While her husband cleaned the fish, she would also catch his limit of five fish.
“The poor guy didn’t stand a chance,” she said.
Having visited Marco Island since 1986, in 2000 she and her husband became full-time residents. It was here she learned a new vocabulary regarding fish. Black drum, redfish, snook, spotted sea trout, sheepshead, whiting, cobia, red, lane and yellowtail snapper, grouper, pompano, tripletail, bonnet sharks, mackerel, ladyfish, catfish and jack cravelle were added to her list (the last three being undesirable for eating). She became so good at catching fish and out-fishing other fishermen on Marco Island that she developed the nickname of “The Snook Princess.”
According to Adams, there are more fish to catch here that you cannot eat than in Wisconsin. And when she’s not fishing, she talks to other fishermen. Her favorite eating fish is pompano.
Adams does return to Wisconsin where she owns a pontoon boat and fishes with neighbors. She stated that the boat is assigned to a slip, and sometimes goes on ‘booze’ cruises and ‘coffee’ cruises. On this lake, she has acquired the name “Bass Mistress.”
Adams has found a way to ‘lure’ the fish and fight them to the end.
“I have been truly blessed to be able to live on the water all my life. I love to swim through it, fish in it, and ride on top of it,” she stated. If she can get on a charter boat, that’s the biggest thrill of all she said.
“Fishing has been my passion. I don’t get out as often as I would like to because of back and health issues. My companion fishing buddy of 54 years passed away in 2005. We did ocean fishing as well as fresh water fishing. Now, when a friend calls to go fishing, I will grab my rod and reel in a heartbeat,” she said. “In Wisconsin, the water may be 22 feet deep and you could see the anchor sitting on a rock. Here, you can’t see the bottom. It’s very different here. But it’s fun to be fishing in both places.”
According to her son, Mike, there probably isn’t a charter operation or bait shop on the island that doesn’t know Lori Adams as the best fisherwoman in “those parts” for many years. He said that she is proud to show her trophies, but is diligent about laws and regulations regarding seasons and would never compromise her integrity for a meal, however tempting. He also stated that as a young person, she was a champion swimmer and diver for the Kenosha Youth Foundation, but actually she would much rather wet a line than take dive!
Her favorite prayer is the Fisherman’s Prayer: “I pray that I may live to fish until my dying day, and when it comes to my last cast I then most humbly pray. When in the Lord’s great landing net and peacefully asleep, that in His mercy I be judged big enough to keep!”
Adams has certainly left a great legacy for her children and grandchildren. They all love to fish. If you happen to see a 75-year-old woman casting a line on the beach at Cape Marco, it just might be the Snook Princess, Lori Adams.