It’s been a few days since Kristine Fischer became the first woman to win a national level kayak bass fishing tournament, and she still can’t believe it.

“It’s so surreal,” she said. “I’ve worked so hard for it and when it happens you don’t know how you are going to feel. I’m still kind of in a daze.”

Fischer didn’t just claim the $5,300 first prize at the Hobie Bass Open Series on Kentucky Lake.

She is now one of the 50 people who will compete in the tournament of champions in Arkansas in the fall. She’s also the first woman to earn a spot on Team USA that will compete in Hobie Worlds next year.

Last year, the event was in Sweden. This summer, it’s in Australia.

“I have wanted to qualify for that for so long, and it feels really good,” she said.

Fischer, who grew up in a fishing family in Weeping Water, Nebraska, said the kayak fishing community exploded after she won the tournament last weekend.

Fellow competitors said that while they wanted to win, they were cheering for her.

“They all know me, how hard I’ve worked and how much I wanted that,” Fischer said. “I’m so proud and humbled to be part of that community.”

Fischer finished the two-day tournament with 178 inches of fish. After losing her first five on the opening day, it was unexpected.

But she told herself to keep pushing, stay positive and get back to work.

She used Google Maps to figure the best spot to find fish. She has a Hobie Pro Angler 14 kayak, a Power Pole Micro anchoring system, a Lowrance HDS 9 Live fish finder and St. Croix rods. She used a variety of bait.

“I found a really good pattern, and I kept my mind right,” she said. “Mental toughness was the key. I just stuck with my gut.”

Fischer, 31, said she hopes to keep competing as long as she can hoist her kayak in and out of the water.

Right now, she and fiance A.J. McWhorter are traversing the country in a travel trailer, following the tournaments.

She’ll be competing in Lake Fork, Texas, next weekend.

As exciting as the recognition has been since her victory, Fischer said it’s the messages from women and young girls, saying that they want to start fishing, too, that touches her most.

“That moves me on a level I can’t quite explain,” she said.

Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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