The accomplished angler and former NFL cheerleader talks chasing reds and reeling in an epic tarpon in her home state.
Name: Allison Renn
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
H&B: You’re a Florida girl. Where did you grow up, and did you grow up fishing?
Allison Renn: I was born and raised in Jacksonville. It is actually the only place I’ve ever lived. I grew up on the St. Johns River, and my father taught me how to bait a hook and throw it in the water – nothing serious. It was fun father-daughter fishing. We caught whatever we could off the dock, and it was just fun.
H&B: How did you progress in your fishing from there?
AR: I didn’t really get back into fishing until three years ago when I started dating my boyfriend, Jordan. He’s a big fisherman. We went on a date on his boat, and when he started casting, it brought back childhood memories of fishing with my father. Since then, Jordan has taught me everything I know about fishing.
H&B: What is your most vivid/happiest fishing memory?
AR: One of my favorite trips and fishing experiences was in Tampa. One of Pelagic’s professional anglers, Tyler Kapela, invited me to go tarpon fishing with him. Within minutes of being on the boat, Tyler got my line out, and a tarpon grabbed it and took off. I fought that tarpon for a solid 30 minutes, and it was the hardest fight I’ve ever had with a fish. It was a 150+-pound tarpon for my very first catch of the trip. It was the most exhilarating experience.
H&B: You recently retired from cheering professionally for the Jacksonville Jaguars. How did you start cheering?
AR: I did competitive gymnastics for eight years and made it to Level 8. One day, I realized that I wasn’t going to go to the Olympics – that wasn’t my plan – so I quit. Cheerleading tryouts were coming up after I quit, so I figured I’d give it a go. I was hooked on it the second I showed up for tryouts. I cheered in middle school and high school. Then when I was a senior in high school, I decided to try out for the Jacksonville Sharks (the city’s AFL arena football squad) dance team. I made the team, and I stayed with the Sharks for three years. My final year, I was selected to perform with the Net10 Wireless Dream Team at the Arena Bowl in Cleveland, Ohio.
That was the perfect end to my time with the Sharks, but I still loved cheer and had a lot of energy left to give so I tried out for the Jaguars squad and made it my first year. I stayed on the team for five years until I retired in January. It’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life. The platform you have and the people you meet are amazing. It really broadens your horizons.
H&B: What is your favorite thing to fish?
AR: By far my favorite thing to fish is redfish. It’s almost become a specialty for me. I think they’re so beautiful. I catch and release every redfish I reel in because I have such a love for the fish.
H&B: What is your most epic catch and your best one-that-got-away story?
AR: My most epic catch was my very first sailfish. I was fishing in the Pelagic Shamrock Shootout Tournament last year. It was my turn in the rotation, so I started reeling in the line with no idea of what was on it. Out of the water pops a sailfish. I had never caught one before. We weren’t fishing for sailfish in the tournament, but I got it to the boat, and it was a surreal moment.
For my one-that-got-away, I was fishing around a dock, and we were sight-casting for reds. I saw a ginormous one, and I sight-casted to him. He grabbed it, and I was so excited I forgot to check the drag on my reel, and he took off. He wrapped himself around the dock pilings and cut loose in a matter of seconds. It was the worst feeling. But I promise you, I check my drag every time now, so lesson learned.
H&B: If you could plan the perfect fishing trip, who would be with you and what would the day entail?
AR: I would take Jordan and my dad because they are the two most important men in my life. One started me off in fishing, and the other kept me involved in fishing. I’m not picky about where. I’m happy any time I’m on the water. As long as it’s 75 degrees and sunny with calm seas, I’m good!
H&B: You’re a member of the Pelagic team. Explain what you do for them.
AR: They found me on social media, and I’m so proud to work with them. I feel special that they picked me out from all the amazing female anglers out there. We go to fishing tournaments and events like ICAST. We’re very much involved with the brand.
H&B: What role does social media play in your life?
AR: My social media has always been everything about my life. I put personal, family, friends, cheerleading, and fishing. I don’t really hold back much. I kind of say and post it all. Joining the fishing world blew my social media up. It has helped me with networking. I’ve connected with so many anglers through social media and expanded my fishing knowledge. And I’ve made new friends and visited new places because of that.
H&B: Do you ever get strange fishing-related pickup lines from followers?
AR: You wouldn’t believe the marriage proposals!
H&B: Now that you’ve retired from cheering, what are your future plans?
AR: First, I’m going to have way more time to fish! So that makes it very exciting for me. At the beginning of the year, I opened my own spray tan business. I am a nurturer, and I want a family and kids. I want to pass down my love of fishing and being on the water to my children.
H&B: How would you encourage little girls or other women to get out and try fishing?
AR: I feel like people today are so wrapped up being inside with their screens. I would just encourage being outdoors. I picked fishing as my favorite thing to do because it’s so rewarding to me. I would just encourage girls to pick an outdoor activity that they enjoy and go for it. I think anyone can go out and try!
H&B: What are your interests outside fishing?
AR: I love snowboarding. We take a trip at least once a year to Colorado. I do dance classes. I love to be outside listening to the birds. My grandmother loved birds, so I think she passed that to me. I’ve got birdfeeders all around, and I love just being outside watching and listening to the birds.