Celebrating Women: Their Notable Impact on Fishing & Conservation

Published March 8, 2024

Did you know there are 145 inductees in the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame and 16 of them are women? Additionally, there are a total of 95 inductees in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame – four are women. There are many stories that share the heart of men and women who are dedicated to supporting the mission of conservation. By educating and engaging communities, these individuals inspired their audiences to be more mindful of how people interact with nature and how to responsibly preserve the great outdoors. This International Women’s Day, read about Francesca LaMonte and Helen Sevier – two women who are recognized for their dedication and passion in the realm of conservation and fishing.

A Passion for Marine Life

One of the founding members of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) was Francesca LaMonte, coined as “a pioneer in marine research” and one of the first women inducted into the IGFA’s Fishing Hall of Fame. LaMonte’s career started off as her being an ichthyologist – a branch of zoology that studies different fish species. As an ichthyologist, her job was to investigate the history, environment, habits, and behaviors of various fish species. Her contributions and achievements as a scientist, author, and editor, and a founding member of the IGFA showcased her enthusiasm for marine research and fish.

LaMonte spent most of her career impacting conservation by teaching others the importance of maintaining healthy habitats and preserving bodies of water so fish species could thrive for generations. She wrote a series of books which all contained her deep knowledge about all kinds of marine life. Some of her works include, North American Game Fishes (1945), Marine Game Fishes of the World (1952), Giant Fishes of the Ocean (1966); she was co-editor for Game Fishes of the World (1949) and the Fisherman’s Encyclopedia (1950).

Her passion for research and educating audiences, along with her captivating expertise, is why LaMonte is remembered for being a pioneer in marine research. Not only was she a founder of the IGFA, but she later became the association’s first secretary, serving in that position for 39 years, and was then appointed to their first executive committee. She continued to pave the way for future conservationists and scientists through her writing and editing which led to her role as an editor for all the IGFA’s early publications.

Her contributions and reputation earned her an induction into the IGFA’s Fishing Hall of Fame in 1988. As mentioned before, LaMonte’s research helped champion the mission of conservation in aquatic habitats and marine species – an impact that echoed around the world.

It’s All About Taking a Risk…

Another notable woman is Helen Sevier who helped champion the sport of bass fishing. Sevier maintained a 31-year career with Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S., LLC), working her way up from direct-marketing expert to President and CEO of the world’s largest fishing organization. As one of the first (of three) full-time employees at B.A.S.S., she was tasked with growing memberships. Using her background in marketing, she doubled memberships in her first year from 9,000 to 20,000.

In 1986, the founder of B.A.S.S., Ray Scott, requested Sevier find a buyer for his company. She saw an opportunity and put together a plan to purchase the organization herself. After successfully acquiring the company, she expanded its media component to include seven full-color magazines, such as: Bassmaster, Guns & Gears, Fishing Tackle Retailer, Bass Fishing Techniques, Bassmaster Tour, CastingKids Magazine, and B.A.S.S. Times.

Eventually, she introduced the idea to create a television series, “The Bassmasters”, focusing on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. In the late 1990’s, the “World Championship Fishing” program was added which took off and hooked many bass fishing enthusiasts. Sevier knew how to strategically implement new tactics and fresh ideas which got anglers all over the world excited about their favorite pastime.

Sevier’s media operations attracted major national sponsors to B.A.S.S. and its pro anglers, including Chevrolet, BP, Rubbermaid, Polaroid, and Wrangler – to name a few. Her devotion to the company resulted in its increasing success and her efforts throughout the years made waves in the bass fishing industry. In 2018, she was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, in addition to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2004, and the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame in 2022.

There are many stories and achievements, like Francesca’s and Helen’s, featured in the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Both are located at Wonders of Wildlife; during your next visit, you can read more about the dedication and passion the inductees share which helped to create a lasting impact on fishing and conservation, as we see today. We love our anglers and hope to see future generations carry the torch and champion the mission of respecting and preserving the great outdoors.