Stripers & Diapers: Get to know Team Cheeky Ambassador - and now, new mom! - Abbie Schuster - Cheeky Fishing

May 07, 2022 5 min read

9 Questions for a Striper Mom.

First of all, Congratulations! What is life like these days?

Thank you! Isla, our daughter, is about 7 weeks and we are currently doing round-the-clock feeding, about every 2 hours. So, a lot of that! The good news is, fish don’t really start showing up until May. They are juuuust starting to trickle in – so my guiding hasn’t really been affected. I usually start guiding early May and it gets progressively busier and busier.

I’ve been doing a bunch of casting lessons, and I’m launching my boat, Elsie (a 23ft Parker named after my Great Grandmother, who was an amazing angler) on this week! We finished most of the work on the boat but there’s always beginning-of-the-season maintenance. Every year I’m like, “we’re so ahead of it,” but then, every year we end up working on it all year.

 

A funny note for my boat, I was kind of upset I named my boat Elsie before we had Isla… I didn’t want to waste a good name. Basically these are my two children: my boat and my baby— Isla and Elsie.

Can you tell me a little more about yourself and your background?

I learned to fish from my dad when I was a baby basically, out on the island (Martha’s Vinyard), and have been fly fishing my whole life. My dad dabbles in spin fishing now, but when I was little, it wasn’t in his thoughts at all – very much anti spin, though now everything is fine. He was hardcore fly fisherman. I’m grateful for that now because it made us good anglers.

 I really had no idea how ‘cool’ fly fishing was, or that you could make money doing it, until I went to University of Montana. I didn’t really realize it was like a thing people did, honestly, until I went to college and realized it was not just a weird thing to do – most high school girls weren’t into that. I saw there were folks guiding and was like, “oh you can make money off this!”

I went to Sweetwater Guide school my Junior year, starting guiding in Montana, and moved to Washington State where I started a women’s program with Dave McCoy (of Emerald Waters Anglers). I moved back to Martha’s Vineyard (where I still live now) in 2016, which is when I started my own business, Kismet Outfitters

 

What’s one of your earliest fishing memories?

I won a Father’s Day tournament when I was like 3, I think? It’s my father’s claim to fame… he still talks about it. I graduated college all that stuff and I’m pretty sure that fishing tournament is still his proudest moment. I kinda remember it – especially when I see the photos. The trophy was as tall as me (which he still has).

 

Has Isla experienced fishing yet?

I’ve already taken Isla fishing, just some freshwater stuff, put a hat on for protection from sun and hook, and I can’t wait to bring her on the boat.

Where we live is an Island which you can only get to by ferry. So, bringing her home from hospital on the ferry was her first day on a boat. Day 1, out on the water, brought her home and we rolled down the windows to experience the salt air. She’ll be a water gal for sure

 

What’s up next for you and Isla fishing/Kismet wise?

I can’t wait to get a fishing rod in Islas hand. I already bought her sunglasses in case she wants to be a guide. She’ll definitely be a shop employee for a while, she’s already #1 employee here doing inventory with me.

I’ll be bringing her to the Schoolie Tournament. She’s come to casting lessons, and this summer I’m gonna guide a bunch and she’ll be in the shop with me in afternoons. We do hosted travel trips in the winter, and next winter we’re going down to Barry Island in the Bahamas. She will be with me then. She’ll will be leading trips before we know it!

My mom will come to help take care of her to, so lucky to have a nice family. I don’t know how people do this without support. She’ll be 10 or 11 months, get to go on a Bahamas before she even turns 1. She will be a seasoned guide.

 

Does your family fish?

My whole family fishes.  My brother works full time guiding with me now at Kismet and runs the shop. He lives in MT in the winter. My sister lives on the island in the summer and in Boston in the winter. The whole family is nuts for fishing. My dad is my partner for the Schoolie Tournament, and my husbands coming to help with Isla – team effort!

 

How was it finding out you were adding Isla to the crew?

A lot of people are like, are you still gonna guide – and I was like, of course, I didn’t build a business to have a kid and just stop. I’m still guiding, we have 2 other full-time guides, so Kismet is fully available and ready if you need a trip. I think it’s crazy when people assume a kid is going to change your work – it’s not like that crazy of a thing, women have babies and work all over the world.

I was very, very nervous to tell clients I was pregnant, which is so stupid because I have amazing clients. This winter I didn’t host trips between Covid and being pregnant. 99% of the people were so supportive and so excited. That 1% that wasn’t (one person was actually mad) and made comments that were like, ‘oh I need to find a new captain I guess.’ I don’t want to work with, and don’t want to raise Isla around people like that. You work so hard, and people who don’t appreciate that you don’t need around you.

 

What does the future hold?

Full time guiding, Bahamas trip, we’re still going to go to Belize for hosted trips and she’s gonna be there. I want to introduce to her as many things as I can. Of course my life has changed, but trying to keep it as normal as I can.  Guiding and fishing is important, so we try adapt our life to her being in it. If I’m happy she’s going to be happy. All these experiences in life will be good for her.

I think Kismet will be stronger in the end for it. I started the shop to be a place for the community, a non-intimidating place, and hopefully get more kids involved…and more women.

 

Any advice for women going through this right now?

Well, I feel like I need advice at this point—ha, ha, ha. But I think the female community is so awesome, and women being real with other women about the experience of childbirth, bringing them into the world and the first few weeks is important. The first 2 weeks were hardest of my life. Beautiful, but so hard. And to be like, “it will be ok, it’s just a phase, you will still get back to your old tricks.”

If you know anyone pregnant let them know it will be ok, you will still have a life. I’m only 7 weeks in so I’m still very much learning, but it’s like, you guys have to make it work, and its ok. I’m redoing my boat, website, merchandising (of course I did this now) and its taking twice as long as it normally would and I have to understand, it’s ok, this is where I’m at. It won’t be like this for the rest of your life, it might be slower right now, but you gotta keep trucking. You do everything one handed right now, but you gotta keep doing it. I’m not going to stop, so I’m just adapting.  It’s a new normal but you can totally do it!