Florida-based angler Brooke Thomas has nearly 750,000 followers on Facebook. In this exclusive interview with OutdoorHub, you’ll learn how she turned her childhood obsession into a career in the outdoor industry.
DM: According to your Facebook bio, you grew up in Orlando. Who introduced you to fishing?
Brooke: My grandfather used to take me fishing growing up because my brothers were never really into it. I always loved being on the water.
DM: You fished local bass tournaments in high school, correct? Were these team tournaments? What was your best single-day five-fish limit?
Brooke: I fished all kinds of bass tournaments – both solo and team tournaments. My best tournament limit was 30 pounds, and biggest bass in an event was 10.1 pounds in Kissimmee, Florida.
DM: After graduating from Florida State, you went to work at an insurance agency. How soon did you realize you’d rather be on the water than in the office?
Brooke: I absolutely hated insurance all along. There wasn’t a day that went by that I enjoyed working in the insurance industry. I hated the people. I hated the job. I hated my life. I just had to figure out how to make a living doing what I really wanted to do – and that was/is fishing!!
DM: Was it tough to make the jump from the corporate world to the outdoor industry? What was your first big break?
Brooke: It was tough. I had no idea how to turn fishing into a career. I had no idea how to go about acquiring sponsors. I had no one in my life who supported my decisions/vision . . . I simply put myself out there CONSTANTLY, and never gave up. I was on the water every second I could get outside of that cubicle, and of course kept up with my social media. Social media allowed me to showcase my passion for fishing, and it allowed me to reach the right people. My first sponsor was HUK Gear (Marolina Outdoor) in 2014, and from there I was able to quit my insurance job and pursue my dream within the fishing world. I want to promote women getting outdoors, following their passions, and living a life on purpose.
DM: Obviously you love to fish, and you don’t focus on just one species. So in no particular order, what are you top 5 favorite fish to pursue? And what is your biggest largemouth?
Brooke: You’re right – it’s hard to choose!!! Top 5: tarpon, swordfish, bass, sailfish, Goliath grouper. Biggest largemouth to date is 12.8 pounds out of Lake Kissimmee.
DM: You’ve appeared on numerous magazine covers, and represent HUK Gear and many other top brands in the outdoor industry. That said, anyone who follows you on social media will learn quickly that the term “model” doesn’t really describe you.
Brooke: Haha – I actually hate the term “model” because I do far more than just wear the clothing and represent my sponsors. I have tried very hard to stay away from that term because anyone can model clothing or hold up a product. I take pride in being the real deal; I actually fish, field test, and use the products/wear the clothing that I show on my social media sites.
DM: Your closet must be overflowing with cool apparel, correct?
Brooke: Yes, my closet is full of HUK Gear – the hottest fishing apparel on the market! They keep me looking sharp and protect me from the elements. What’s not to love?
DM: Sadly, social media enables some people to write nasty things, and often women are targeted more than men. Does the negativity ever bring you down?
Brooke: It used to affect me. At this point in the game – I’ve been doing this for so long, that nothing really phases me.
DM: Visitors to your website can purchase signed Bikini Bowfishing and Bikini Bass Fishing calendars, as well as plan bowfishing or shark fishing trips with you. Your calendars must sell like crazy; have you had good response to your trip offers?
Brooke: Yes, my website is www.brookethomasfishing.com and I do offer signed calendars and trips. Both do very well! I guide my trips and share my love of bowfishing with people who are from out-of-state and/or have never been! It’s always an awesome experience to be a part of someone’s first time “hunting for fish”.
DM: Final question – If you could take part in only one more outdoor adventure, where would you go, what would you do, and who would join you?
Brooke: Hmm . . . only one more outdoor adventure, huh? Honestly, this might be lame, but I would go nighttime tarpon fishing in Biscayne Bay, Florida. That’s one that will always be hard to top in my book.
Editor’s note: Check out the links/info below to follow Brooke Thomas online. And take the time to watch the video clip of her shooting an airborne Asian carp.
P.S.: The original “Women Who“ series on CarbonTV explores a woman’s take on typically male-dominated pursuits. Whether it’s shooting, hunting or farming, these women – like Brooke Thomas – make no apology for who they are and aim to inspire the same passion in others.