Heather Nicole's passion for fishing landed her in a calendar

Boca Raton's Heather Nicole to be in The Women Anglers of Florida Sportsman Calendar

Heather Nicole loves to fish, so when Capt. Kyle Shea invited her to head offshore for wahoo with him and Drew Wickstrom of Florida Sportsman magazine, she didn't hesitate to go.

Little did she realize that the trip, which produced four wahoos, would result in her becoming Ms. February in The Women Anglers of Florida Sportsman Calendar for 2017.

The trip came about because Shea is sponsored by the Oceanic Gear apparel company, which put Wickstrom in touch with Shea so they could go fishing and Wickstrom could get some photos.

When Nicole, of Boca Raton, caught a 25-pound wahoo, Wickstrom not only had a woman for his Stuart-based magazine's annual calendar, he also got a cover shot for this year's Florida Sportsman May issue. And Nicole got an excited reaction from her family and friends.

"Everybody was saying, 'Oh my God! You're on the magazine!'" Nicole said. "Even family in California. They were freaking out. In Georgia they would take pictures of the cover and tag me on Facebook and say 'We found you!' My mom is a proud mom."

The calendar made holiday shopping easy for Nicole's mother. Available for $12.95 at floridasportsman.com and other websites, as well as some tackle and book stores, the calendar has photos of women who actually go fishing holding everything from snook and swordfish to redfish and bonefish. It also has moon stages and holidays.

Most of the women are wearing Oceanic bikinis, but Nicole is sponsored by Pelagic, so she put on a pair of foul-weather bibs for a photo that has her holding her wahoo over her head with Boca Raton in the background.

True to her zeal for fishing, Nicole is still impressed by how good that trip was on Shea's 36-foot Invincible Shea-D-Lady.

"We were back in by 9 a.m. It was a crazy morning," said Nicole, who enjoys fishing with Shea because "he puts us on the fish. We can't forget about that part."

"Heather loves to fish," Shea said. "She's not afraid to gut a swordfish and she's not afraid to harpoon one. She has a passion for it, just like me."

Nicole, 27, who grew up in Deerfield Beach, started fishing from the seawall at Hillsboro Inlet with her stepfather when she was 6 and remembered catching "little grunts."

"I liked it because I always loved the ocean," she said. "I was a tomboy growing up, so I didn't mind getting my hands dirty. I just wanted to grab my pole and go."

When she was 19, she moved to Orlando for five years for school and to do some modeling and promotional work.

"I didn't fish much. When I moved home, I started going to the Bahamas again," she said. "I usually fish every weekend. When there's a calm crossing, we're in the Bahamas every weekend."

During the week, Nicole works as a receptionist at Kaufman Lynn Construction in Boca, which is understanding of her passion, plus she always shares her catch.

"That's why it's OK if I take off on Friday," Nicole said, "because I'll bring in fish on Monday."

When she's in the Bahamas, Nicole likes to fish for queen snappers and mutton snappers. In South Florida, she and Shea fish offshore for pelagic species, although not too long ago, Nicole fished in fresh water for peacock bass for the first time. She admitted that she wasn't used to fishing with light tackle, but she did catch two of the colorful fish.

"I wanted to catch them because they're so pretty," Nicole said.

She does a fair amount of daytime swordfishing with Shea, who recently caught two swords to place first and third in the Dirty Bird Swordfish Tournament. But her favorite fish to catch is wahoo.

"The scream of the reel when they get hooked and take off," she said, "there's absolutely nothing like it."

swaters@sun-sentinel.com; Twitter @WatersOutdoors

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