Fishing Saved This Woman’s Life

When I saw the title of Janet Messineo’s book, Casting Into The Light, subtitled Tales Of A Fishing Life, I assumed it was all fishing stories. But it’s much more than that.

Messineo suffered a very difficult childhood which carried into adulthood. And then she discovered a love for ocean fishing from the beach. She didn’t say this, but it was obvious to me that fishing turned her life around.

For years, she was the only woman fishing the beach among a lot of men. And some of those men were happy to help her. I enjoyed her stories about those men. She would often fish all night, even though, sometimes, she was terrified by the dark.

She caught many different species of ocean fish, and fished in some stunningly beautiful places. She never fished out of a boat but always from the beach. And sometimes she fished in very harsh winds and torrential rains. But that didn’t stop her.

I particularly enjoyed her stories of catching striped bass, something my dad and I enjoyed on the Kennebec River until they disappeared.

To support her fishing, she took a variety of jobs including waitressing, and she acknowledges it took a long time to learn everything she needed to know to be a successful ocean angler.

She fished along the Atlantic Ocean in Massachusetts, including Chappaquiddick. And eventually she became a marine taxidermist.

Eventually she married to a singer and poet and they adopted a son with Asperger’s. And of course, she taught her son to fish.

This is a powerful story of the transformative power of fishing that helped her to shake off drugs, alcohol, and other problems, and her profound respect for fish as a magnificent animal. She even includes in the book 18 of her favorite fish recipes.

Messineo is a former president of the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association and has written about fishing for many publications. She lives in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. Her book was published by Pantheon Books.




George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.