Oxford Woman Used To Catch Criminals, Now Catches Fish


By Zac Schultz | June 19, 2018

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Barb Carey spent nearly two decades catching criminals as a police officer. Now she spends most of her time patrolling Wisconsin’s waters, trying to catch fish. “I kind of relate it to police work. Because when you’re a police officer, you’re just going along, but something exciting can happen at any moment, and that’s the same thing with fishing.”

An injury forced Carey to retire early. “I broke off a piece of the joint surface on the bottom of my knee. And it ended up never really getting back to where I could run up and down the stairs or kneel down. It was emotionally one of the hardest things that happened to me was having to retire because I love my job so much. It was tough.”

She hadn’t fished much since she was a child, but she gave it a shot. “I came back to it more in ice fishing. For me it was the elusive walleye. I could never catch walleye. I remember the first big one I got through the ice. It was 26 inches long. That fish meant so much to me. I had it mounted because it was just the first time I was out there doing it myself and I succeeded.”

Carey says she never saw any other women ice fishing. “I’d look around and say, ‘Where are they? Don’t they realize how much fun this is?'” That’s really what started me creating opportunities for women to fish. I ended up getting introduced to some other gals who fished and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, someone else ice fishes! Another woman that ice fishes!”

Carey says ice fishing turned into spring fishing, which turned into a fall fishing camp. “That was the first ever fish camp. That was 11 years ago now.”

Now nearly 100 women rent out a north woods resort and fill its docks with expensive fishing boats. The group includes seasoned pros and first-timers. They share advice and hot holes on the lake. “I used to say it’s all about the fishing,” says Carey. “As things evolved it’s become less about the fishing and more about the people. They have a sorority so to speak. They’re very connected to each other.”

“Everyone kind of has something in their life that ends up being their destiny, and this is mine,” says Carey. “This is why I’m here. I’m lucky that everything worked out because it’s been a gift.”

Zac Schultz

Zac Schultz is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project who thinks three-minute stories and one-line bio descriptions are woefully brief.
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