Tonya Sanders, an avid angler, found herself facing online harassment while sharing her fishing experiences and tips on social media. Negative comments, including accusations and derogatory remarks, prompted her to create a safe space for fellow anglers. Thus, she founded the Facebook group “Female Fishing Fanatics,” welcoming all anglers, regardless of gender or experience level.
Within just four weeks, the group attracted over 320 members from across the country and even as far as Thailand. Local businesses have shown their support by donating prizes for raffles and collaborating with Tonya and her fiancé, Rob Lissor, on a traveling angler series they plan to share within the group.
Tonya’s passion for fishing has deep roots, stemming from her childhood when her father introduced her to the sport. Despite not considering herself an expert angler and lacking a boat, she continues to pursue her love for fishing, frequently casting her line in locations like Wrightsville Beach and Fort Fisher.
During an interview, Tonya’s enthusiasm for fishing became evident when she paused to appreciate the sound of her fishing reel’s drag screaming. Her dedication to the sport is unwavering, even in the face of an approaching hurricane.
Rob Lissor, speaking from an administrative position in the female-centric group, praised the remarkable support and positivity within the Female Fishing Fanatics community. He highlighted the group’s uplifting and caring atmosphere, where members celebrate each other’s posts with no room for negativity.
Jaime Short, co-owner of The Gator Hole Country Store and Tackle, joined forces with Tonya and Rob out of their shared love for fishing. Their aim is to foster an environment where everyone can enjoy the water and the joy of fishing, regardless of skill level or gender.
Tonya Sanders’ journey from dealing with online harassment to creating a thriving and supportive angler community demonstrates the resilience and unity found among those who share a passion for fishing.