Fishing may be a solo activity for you, but a community of those who also love fishing is a click away. SavvyBoater has been keeping an eye on one fishing forum that has tons of personality because of the woman who started it. Jennie Logsdon Martin fishes and blogs prolifically on the thriving Ifish.net forum/website. We asked her recently to tell us about her background and love of fishing. She gets very personal on ifish.net, which is one of the chief draws of the site.
Q & A with Savvy Boater of the Month Jennie Logsdon Martin
Jenni Logsdon Martin, Inspirational Fisherwoman and Blogger for IFish.net
SavvyBoater: You started ifish.net as a blog then it evolved into a discussion board, correct? Then to a magazine? Why did you start writing? And how have your online and fishing lives evolved since 1998?
Jennie: I started ifish.net in 1998 as a sort of challenge from my internet mentor and friend, Don Gach. Don asked me to do a website and his advice included doing it on something that I adored. That, of course, was fishing. He also challenged me to get it listed on search engines. Back then, it was much easier to get things listed on search engines. There were so many! I was successful. People found ifish.net and wanted to join in, so I created a discussion forum. This forum was pretty archaic, compared to what we have now.
Then, a sports writer for the Oregonian found me, and due to that, more people joined in. It just kept growing as TV series wanted to air stories on ifish. Ifish.net just grew and grew until folks from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife were using it to find out about what people wanted, and television news sources were using our data, and… it just snowballed on us!! I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned, and I had to learn fast! I had no marketing or sales experience, but I began to sell advertising in order to pay for the hosting fees, etc. I only sold enough to pay for the expenses, and to keep us going as a community. It was my love!
Due to health problems, I began to have trouble keeping up with things, so in 2010, I made the difficult decision to sell my ifish in 2010. The company I sold it to created our new online magazine.
I started writing as a child. I have a stack of journals I’ve kept all these years. My writing is now public, but my writing remains mostly for myself. I don’t write with people in mind, really. I write to understand myself and to thank my Heavenly Father for all my blessings. I write to note things I’ve done, my feelings about life, family and friends, and quite frankly, I write to explore the wonder in life and repeatedly convince myself that everything I have been blessed with is real! Pinch me!
Since writing publicly, I have been invited to join the Outdoors Writer’s Association of America, been on the cover and included in “Chicken Soup for the Fisherman’s Soul”, and won a couple of neato awards!
SavvyBoater: Do you work on ifish full-time? Is it your primary occupation? Had you held other jobs prior to ifish?
Jennie: I am physically disabled with Marfan Syndrome, so I don’t work full time, although sometimes it sure seems like I do! Sometimes Ifish.net will go down, or have problems, and then I work long, long days. After that, I have to take days in a row off, to recover. But, that’s life having a web site! It’s just like that! I’m involved in many facets of the fishing world. I would say that fishing is my primary occupation and my “Busman’s Holiday”. Believe it or not, I spent the first half of my life as a performing classical pianist. I played all over the United States, including being honored to perform for President Reagan and President Bush in Washington D.C. So exciting!
SavvyBoater: Tell us about how you became such an enthusiastic fisherwoman. It pervades every aspect of your life, it seems. What is it about fishing that drives your passion for it?
Jennie: I was born with a passion for water, whether it be a mud puddle in the driveway, a slough running through a friend’s back field, the rivers, the lakes, or the ocean. I even adore my hot tub! When I was very young, I didn’t play with dolls so much. I was always game to join my Dad in a boat on the Willamette River, fishing for Spring Chinook, or climb up on his shoulders, while he would cross the white water of the Sandy River in Oregon for steelhead. We spent each summer at Diamond Lake fishing for trout. I have such great fishing memories!
From there, it was fishing with friends in the mornings before work or piano practice, and it continued on, until it turned into a joke for many. Jennie the fisher. During concerts, an opera singer I accompanied would introduce me as “Jennie the Fisher girl” or, would state right before intermission, “It seems it is time now that Jennie go catch a fish. She’ll be back in 15 minutes. Feel free to grab a cup of coffee.”
SavvyBoater: You write about your two sons, who also fish. How have their fishing lives evolved?
Jennie: I’m afraid they don’t fish with me, except on rare occasion. Unfortunately, my eldest passed away at 26, just one year ago. He, too, was affected by Marfan Syndrome. Andrew, the oldest, was the most apt to go fishing, and he had the most luck I’d seen anyone have. He’d catch salmon after salmon and just never be very excited about it. He’d say, casually and without spirit, “Got another one…” Bill and I would be trying our hardest with all the newest gear and techniques, to catch but one! But, not Andrew… He’d be limited out and bored by the time we’d get one!
When my boys were very small, I took them on several-too-many fishing adventures in the Oregon wind and rain. I am famous for the “Just one more cast” phenomena, even when the weather is very bad. That’s one thing you should never do with small children in tow. Take it from me. After those experiences, they changed their minds about the fun of going fishing with their mother. When their father would come home from work for lunch, I’d give him a quick kiss and a rundown on the situation at home, then I’d be out the door to the jetty to catch a salmon and a couple crabs, and run home, before he had to get back to work. I adore those memories!
One very awesome memory. I knew it was real love when my husband heard me yelling from down at the lake across from our first home. I had hooked a big bass. Probably the biggest bass of my lifetime! The line was caught up around some pilings out about six feet from shore. He came running, thinking I was hurt. When he found me safe, he went into that murky lake water in his nice white work clothes, and untangled that bass, and let me reel it in! Now, that is love!
SavvyBoater: You’ve written about surviving breast cancer. How did your bouts with cancer put a finepoint onto your life’s purpose?
Jennie: I was diagnosed with a pretty scary type of breast cancer three years ago. It is called “Triple Negative” and it is supposedly very aggressive. However, if you make it five years, then the chances of recurrence are less than other types. I’m almost there! Two more years, and I have it made! I think of it as a challenge! Actually, my real life scare was surviving an aortic dissection, which occurs due to a genetic connective disorder which I mentioned above Marfan Syndrome. We have weak connective tissue. When my aorta dissected, I was in surgery for 13 hours — 7 hours on the heart and lung machine. I barely scraped by during that one!
After two weeks in the hospital, I still could not walk. The doctors insisted I could, and I tried but failed. I spent two weeks at home, trying and failing! I finally convinced the doc that something was the matter. Oops! They then found out I had very little blood flow to my legs. They had forgotten to test that. No wonder I couldn’t walk! They then life-flighted me to San Francisco where they fixed that with a couple stents. The very next day, I was walking again!
All of these things, including the collapsed lung that I woke up with one day last year, have made me appreciate every single breath of every day that I am alive. I have had more surgeries in my lifetime that I can count.
I sincerely believe that so many people out there (the great majority, in fact!) do not really believe that life as we know it will end. I believe that they know it in their heads really well, but they do not know it in their hearts. I don’t want to waste one minute of any day doing anything negative. I want to make a difference on this earth. The time I spend with people, I want to spend making them feel special and loved. The time I spend on the river, I don’t want to spend worrying over catching or competing. I want to spend my time fishing! After all, the quest is best!
I am blessed to live in Tillamook, Oregon, where my backyard is the Kilchis River. I can walk a couple hundred feet and be at the water’s edge, rod in hand, both when the sun comes up, and when the sun goes down.
SavvyBoater: You are unflaggingly optimistic. Do you believe your optimism has contributed to your success as an online “personality”? Do you think of yourself as a web personality?
Jennie: I would hope that if I come off as optimistic, that people would want to read it. I know there are many people who like to read gossip rags and the like. I certainly don’t want that audience! I don’t really think of myself as a web personality. I think of myself as a female who likes to fish, who lives on the Kilchis River, and likes to share the happiness the river brings me!
SavvyBoater: What’s your definition of success?
Jennie: To me, success is a personal thing. Once upon a time, I told someone I felt like I had been successful with ifish.net. They disagreed, and thought I wouldn’t be a success until I was on a sunny beach somewhere, with someone else doing my work for me. I thought about that, and I just have to disagree. As long as I am generally happy in what I do, I am successful. For me, waking up being able to walk and talk and breath is success.
I was raised being told I wouldn’t live a long life. I’m 53! That’s nearly double the life span the doctor’s estimated! I have been down in bed or in the hospital quite a bit in my life. It’s tough to watch from my bedroom window as your dog goes out fishing with your partner, and you can’t go, too. With each passing birthday, I become more and more successful!
So, as long as I’m able to fish, well, that, for me, is success!
SavvyBoater: Thanks very much, Jennie. We hope the fish continue to bite on your hook.
See more of Jennie’s frequent posts on ifish.net.