Editors Note: What’s it like to be married to a Georgia Big Stick? Find out now in this first in a series of posts on the spouses behind the tournament fishermen. Interviews were conducted directly with the wives of some of Georgia’s Big Sticks. Over the coming weeks, we’ll meet some of the women behind the men who dominate Georgia’s tournament fishing scene–and learn what it’s like to have a husband who is more comfortable in his boat than just about anywhere else. Hats off to these “Tournament Wives”–we know they’re the real ‘secret’ behind their husband’s success on the water.
Our first interview is with Julie Carter, wife of Kip and mother of young Reid. Julie is a 12 year “veteran” tournament wife–and has been a constant with Kip, who is always at or near the top of most leaderboards.
“My maiden name is actually Fish, maybe that’s why Kip chose me!”–Julie Carter, (laughing) when she was asked about marrying Kip.
Julie Carter is a soft-spoken lady with a big heart and a great sense of humor. She grew up on a farm in Monticello. She graduated from Jasper County High School. Her late Dad, Jake Fish of Monticello, was also a great fisherman–so her interest in fishing started at a young age. She and Kip first met as teenagers and then later started dating after high school. You will often see Julie in the crowd with their son Reid at tournament weigh-ins, whether it is a local tournament or, like it was this past summer, at tournament bass fishing’s oldest and most prestigious tournament, the BFL All American (where Kip had qualified for the third time). We caught up with Julie this past week while she was at work at the Farm Bureau office in Conyers.
GBS: Tell us a little about your family.
Julie: Well, Kip and I have been married 12 years this past July. We got married at Monticello Baptist. I have a sister Tamara Mitchell and a brother, Matt Chastain. I’m very close to both of them.
GBS: And how about young Reid, when did he enter the picture?
Julie: Well, he’s seven now and it’s really fun to watch the two of them together, especially now that he’s a little older and can fish some with his Dad. It’s been really fun and I’m just loving watching the two of them together.
GBS: I bet his Dad loves that, too.
Julie: He does, he’s eating it up!
GBS: Julie, you’re working full-time, is that right?
Julie: Yes, I work for Farm Bureau Insurance in Conyers and I’ve been here for about three years. I love the job because I get to talk to people and to help people. I’ve got a great boss and terrific co-workers.
GBS: Was Kip fishing when you met him?
Julie: (laughing) Oh, yes! While I didn’t know he was super big into fishing, I knew he loved to fish. But I figured it out real quick when on the first date he showed me his bass boat!
GBS: Did you have any idea what you’d be getting into?
Julie: Well….I didn’t really. But it felt natural because my Daddy loved him so much. That’s how I knew I had a good one!
Young Julie Carter with her Dad, the late Jake Fish of Monticello, who is holding up a great stringer. Julie said her love of fishing came from her Dad.
GBS: That’s great to hear. I know what it’s like to have had the support of a great father-in-law.
Julie: Yes, it carries on. It helps to make you who you are.
GBS: So how long were you guys dating before Kip took you out in his boat? Did it happen pretty quick?
Julie: It was within the first month!
GBS: Do you like to fish?
Julie: Yes, I love to fish. I don’t get too much now that I work full-time and that I have Reid, but when we first got married we did a lot of tournaments together. We even won a tournament fishing together the week before we got married, so that was great fun!
Yes, even Georgia’s Big Sticks get out-fished sometimes by their wives! That’s Julie’s tarpon that she caught on a trip with Kip to Puerto Rico.
GBS: Now where was that tournament win?
Julie: It was on Lake Oconee and we won first place. It was fun and I loved fishing tournaments with him. We fish a lot of farm ponds and local places and have a great time.
GBS: Do you get to go to most of Kip’s tournaments?
Julie: I try to go the bigger ones. I wish I could go to every single one but I can’t do that now with Reid. Before he was born, we’d travel everywhere, to New York and all over. It was great fun and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to do that with him.
GBS: What was it like traveling to tournaments up North?
Julie: It’s really beautiful up there. We really didn’t know what to expect, but everywhere we went the Northern people were super friendly. It really wasn’t like we had imagined.
GBS: Don’t you think there’s a common bond among all outdoorsman that doesn’t have any geographic boundaries?
Julie: Right, I think that’s true wherever you go.
Julie and Reid riding in 2014. Julie said “I love kids. I’d have twenty of them if Kip would let me!”
GBS: If you go with him to a tournament, what do you guys do?
Julie: It depends on where it’s at. If it’s summertime and we’ve got a pool at the hotel, we’ll hang out there for a while. And, we like to go out to eat.
GBS: I always look forward to getting to a Golden Corral, although my wife isn’t as wild about it as I am.
Julie: That’s hilarious that you like that.
GBS: Do you hangout with some of the other wives on tour?
Julie: I’m friends with Jessica Duvall and we have a good bit in common because Kip and John fish together and they’re good friends.
GBS: Any special memories when you’re fishing with Kip or during a tournament?
Julie: Well, when before Reid was born we were somewhere up North and I would always take his truck and boat and I’d drop him off at the tournament and I would take the truck and trailer back. I remember one time I was going through the drive through–and I don’t know why I thought I could do this–but I went through and I got the trailer jack-knifed! I had to go ask a man in the parking lot to help me out.
GBS: We’ve all run a trailer tire or two up on a drive-through!
Julie: Well…..another time I dropped him off and I got out for something–this has been years ago–and when I did we had a Yorkie named Georgie who locked me out! There I was, standing on the side of the road in my pajamas locked out of the truck! Georgie had pushed the lock button down with his little paw and I could not get in. Fortunately, another tournament wife drove by and saw me and stopped to help. I had to have a locksmith come and get me in–but it worked out.
Fishing is a family affair with Kip, Reid and Julie Carter, as seen in this photo on Lake Sinclair.
GBS: Having traveled all over for tournaments, is there a favorite lake that you have?
Julie: Well, to tell you the truth, my favorite lake is Lake Jackson, because it’s where Kip and I both grew up. It’s still so much fun to go there.
GBS: Kip is hard to beat on Lake Jackson. I remember him in one tournament running his jet boat way up one of the rivers to find some cooler water and he beat the socks off of everyone.
Julie: Yes, that’s his jet boat. He loves to fish Jackson.
GBS: What’s the toughest thing about being the wife of a tournament fisherman?
Julie: Well, I used to think it was Kip being away so much and that is still hard but now if he doesn’t do good I hate to see him disappointed. But he doesn’t complain. The travel is tough but he more than makes it worth our while when he is in town. He always puts us first–well, the Good Lord first and us a close second. I’m thankful for that and I’m happy that he has something that he is passionate about.
GBS: Yes, a man couldn’t do much better than being passionate about his faith, his family and his fishing.
GBS: What is your greatest passion?
Julie: Well, I’m very passionate about kids and I’d have twenty of them if Kip would let me! I love kids and I love animals. We’re still trying to get over the death of our little dog. He was 12 years old and we’re between dogs right now–and we’ll get another one some day.
GBS: Many of us know how tough that is. Now that you’ve been around tournament fishing for 12 years or so, what do you think about it?
Julie: I was thinking how wonderful it is that bass fishing is a sport–and that these tournaments give so many people a chance to be involved. They start out as little boys and turn into teenagers and it gives them something to do. I’m thankful that Reid has a Daddy that takes time for him and that they fish together.
GBS: It’s great you are so supportive–and I know Kip must be thankful for that.
Julie: If the worst thing that he (Kip) does is fish too much then I don’t have too much of a problem. I’ve got a great husband.
GBS: That’s a great way to end this. Thanks, Julie.
Julie: You’re welcome.
Photos courtesy Kip & Julie Carter.