Going to class and catching bass: Henry County high school girl breaks barriers

Outdoors Bound

PENHOOK, Va. (WFXR) — Tournament bass fishing is a male-dominated sport. However, a trailblazing teenage girl from Axton is breaking gender barriers on the high school tournament circuit.

Shelby Rigney is a student at Magna Vista High School in Henry County.

You might think of her motto as, “Any fish boys can catch, girls can catch bigger!”

At least Rigney can catch them bigger. She is the only female on the Foothills Youth Angler Bass Fishing Team. Joining the team took some courage.

“I didn’t know what other people would think, or how they would feel about a girl being on the fishing team, or how I would get looked at,” said Rigney as she walked the shoreline and fished at Smith Mountain Lake.

Rigney has been fishing since she was three years old and she loves it!

“It’s a big adrenaline rush; there’s nothing like it, it feels really good,” said Rigney.

Her interest started when she was able to pick up her first rod. She says her adventures in fishing began with small farm ponds and later grew to bigger lakes.

“It’s relaxing. Sometimes in tournaments, it can be a bit, but in tournaments, you want to catch fish, you want to do good, and you want to get a good bag,” said Rigney.

The Foothills Youth Angler Bass Fishing Team is supported by local sponsors in their area, but Rigney is different. During her competitions, she is sponsored by a local community member, who makes custom lures for her: Daniel Dalton.

However, her biggest supporter is her mom.

“I’m proud of all that she has accomplished at a young age. With all of the fishing stuff, she has done and being a female angler in a male-dominated sport,” said Rigney’s mom.

Her mom says she wants to give the biggest shoutout to Rigney’s boat captain and fishing partner: Bobby Williams and Hunter Barrow.

After high school, Rigney plans to continue fishing, hunting, and more. She says it would be a dream to fish in the Olympics.

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