Maria Meinke Has Settled Right In to Her Florida Home
Since moving to the Venice, Florida — from New Zealand, via the Cook Islands, Seattle and Colorado — two years ago, Maria Meinke (@MariaLuvsMe4 on Instagram) has maintained her life-long love of fishing.
“I was fishing, catching trout when I was in Colorado,” she says. “And I’ve been saltwater fishing all my life. But I just got into freshwater fishing here a couple months ago.”
And Maria’s hooked.
“Other than the trout in Colorado, I’d never caught freshwater fish before,” she says. “But in the last couple months, I’ve finally caught bass, peacock bass and hooked a gar that broke me off. Since I started, I’ve been pretty much non-stop — I’m kind of addicted now.”
Although she grew up fishing in the Pacific, often for subsistence, Maria sees more intricacy in freshwater fishing techniques.
“It seems like there’s more involved in fishing for bass and peacock bass — it’s just so different,” she says. “I feel like it’s more of a challenge than saltwater fishing, actually.”
This year’s red tide, which has affected the part of Florida where she lives, played a part in Maria’s decision to try her hand at freshwater fishing. Avoiding the deadly algae has also sent her elsewhere.
“I’ve gone to the central coast, I’ve gone offshore — I caught my first big bull mahi, that was awesome!” she says. “I’ve been down to the Keys for lobstering. Every chance I get, I’m out of here.”
The red tide has been a serious issue for Maria and Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“It’s so bad here, when I step out of my house, I start coughing,” she says. “Fishing has been hit really hard and businesses that rely on tourism have been super slow over the last couple months. It’s horrible.”
Because Maria enjoys both offshore and inshore fishing — in addition to her newfound passion for freshwater — she’s had to go across the state to get her inshore fix. As far as bass, her current go-to fishery is “a pond about eight minutes from my house” where she is able “to throw in quick.”
She’s already gearing up for her next quest(s), though.
“My next adventures are going to be fly fishing and spear fishing,” Maria says. “I spear fished in the islands, but that was different. I want to scuba dive and fish with a speargun — that’s what I want to get into. That’s next on the list.”
As far as fly fishing, she’s anxious to try it.
“I want to try it on the flats and in the freshwater here — I’ve never ventured into that area,” Maria says. “I want to go back to the keys and go get a bonefish on the fly — that would be sick!”
Hooking a sailfish is also on her bucket list.
“I have a trip planned to Bimini in November, and, weather permitting, I’m hoping to boat some big ones,” she says. “Hopefully, all will go according to plan, because that would be so cool.”
For Maria, fishing is much more than just a pastime.
“Catching my own fish and knowing where it’s coming from is very important to me,” Maria says. “Plus, it’s so much fun being on the water. When that first bite hits, and you don’t know what it is, it’s such a thrill. It’s a real passion because I’ve grown up with it my entire life.”