Vannetta Groeteke is making waves in professional fishing

This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of Missouri Life magazine.

Vannetta Groeteke of Reeds Spring has risen through the ranks of professional angling and is now an official for Major League Fishing. Her lifelong passion for the sport began one summer at Table Rock Lake when her grandfather helped her catch her first fish. After that she was hooked, and she recently wrote a children’s book inspired by that special memory.

Q – How did you become involved with fishing?

A – I’ve always loved fishing since I was a little girl. I started tournament fishing in 2007 and am an official for Major League Fishing (MLF). I officiate for the top 80 bass fishermen in the world. Several weeks a year, I travel around the country as one of the first women officials for MLF.

Bass fishing tournaments are a lot of hard work, and it takes time to prepare. It is all business during those hours, but afterward there’s nothing better than taking a child or friend fishing and enjoying being on the water. Catching fish is the real bonusWhat challenges have you faced along the way? Being a woman in a primarily male-dominated sport presents challenges for some women, but not me. Fish don’t care who you are. I encourage everyone, especially women, to join a bass club, fish co-angler events, read fishing magazines, watch fishing shows, go to seminars … just get out and enjoy the sport of fishing.

Whether you’re fishing for perch from a bank or bass fishing from a boat or practicing casting, get out on a river, creek, pond, or lake, and enjoy the sport.

Q – What is your favorite thing about fishing?

A – The best thing about fishing is the fish don’t care if you’re a man or a woman, young or old, big or little. Anyone can do it.

Q – Do you have a favorite place or time to fish?

A – My favorite place to fish is my home lake of Table Rock Lake. However, my biggest bass have come from Lake Toho and Okeechobee in Florida.

Fishing is usually the best first thing in the morning or late evening. I prefer to pleasure fish in fair weather. In tournament fishing, it’s all day long, rain or shine.

Q – Why did you write Thanks, Grandpa, for Taking Me Fishing?

A – I wanted to do something to help the nonprofit organization Fish Tales because I believe in giving special-needs children and veterans the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities that otherwise would be impossible.

I wanted to do more than take special-needs children and veterans fishing. So I decided to write down my story in hopes that people would enjoy and appreciate it. I presented a check [of book sale proceeds] for $10,650 to J. P. Sell of Fish Tales, which goes toward building devices to help people fish and hunt.

A park, complete with wheelchair-accessible dock and ramp, is being built in Rogersville, so more folks such as nursing home residents can enjoy the outdoors. I’ll be donating a second check to Fish Tales later this year.

Signed copies of Vannetta’s book may be purchased directly by emailing [email protected]. Unsigned hardback ($24) or paperback ($16) copies are available through Photos courtesy Vannetta Groeteke.