Hey y’all my name is Rebecca Lentz but soon to be Rebecca Baker. On Instagram I am know as Lady Angler Lentz, but I have not always been an angler. I was many other things first.
"I was an abandoned, abused and neglected child, a cervical cancer survivor, diesel mechanic, Army Veteran, Parts store manager, yoga goddess, and hiking queen before becoming an authentic angler."
Let’s start from the beginning!
I was born in 1984 to two deaf and poor people in a small town in Arkansas. Sign language was my first language until the state took myself and one of my siblings away from my Mom (unfavorable living conditions) when I was almost 4. My first word was poop. Not as cute as “Mommy” or “Dah Dah”, but go figure, explains my trauma induced quirky personality that I am still rocking today. After a few go rounds with CPS taking me out of my home and placing me in state care, foster homes and various family members due to the child abuse and neglect I was finally adopted though a family member right before my tenth birthday.
Adults used to tell me how wise, smart and what an old soul I was. It’s because I didn’t have a childhood and had to grow up fast. Raising myself for so many years made the transition of being adopted tough. Plus, who was going to care for my deaf and mentally ill biological mother? True, because of her I suffered sexual and physical abuse along with neglect, but that’s all I had ever known. Even today it’s hard to reprogram my brain to not always be in survival mode.
"Even today it’s hard to reprogram my brain to not always be in survival mode."
I would like to tell you that after my adoption I lived happily ever after. It would make things easier but, I am a big advocate of being authentic and transparent so let’s continue with my story. After adoption we moved around some, first to Mexico, then New Jersey 4 years and then to Texas. My adopted mom is a narcissist and was very abusive which led to me running away from home at 16. I was a good kid, hell I was a great kid. I went to church 3 days a week, sang in choir, did volunteer work, baby sat for $5 dollars an hour, mowed yards for the same amount, worked part time at Walmart, hadn’t touched any drugs or alcohol, made good grades and did everything I could to make her happy but I was never enough. My adoptive father was amazing, but having this been his 3rd marriage he didn’t want conflict and so adoptive mom pretty much ran the house. They worked hard of keeping up our perfect image, no one at church knew and I got tired of telling the counselors at school. All of my happiest and formative memories are of him though, just typing this brings emotions of the love I had for him especially later in life. One night after my adoptive mom held a blow dryer to the back of my neck and burned it to teach me a lesson to dry my hair all the way through before bed I was done. I packed a Walmart sack of clothes, threw them over the fence and the next morning I grabbed it on my way to the bus and didn’t return. I knew me running away made my adoptive Dad sick, I hurt knowing he was hurting, but 16 years was enough, I had finally had enough.
I was homeless for a few years, couched surfed, moved through a few states (still no alcohol or drugs thank God) and then back to Texas to earn my GED and enlisted into the Texas Army National Guard. It was the best thing ever! Food, showers, housing and a career! On my first deployment to the Texas/Mexico border called Operation Jump Start I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and then placed on a permanent profile. Making me non deployable overseas and could only serve out my 6 years with the state. So, with that I worked Active Guard Reserve and volunteered for every hurricane mission I could. I was an all-wheel diesel mechanic and I loved it. I went through having cervical cancer a second time along with new medical conditions of PCOS and Endometriosis (and now infertility) but continued to serve my 6 year contract and got out with an honorable discharge. Now I had to start over again, which was scary. I decided I was going to become a fire fighter and enlisted in the fire academy in Mckinney, Texas. I was already working on getting experience as a volunteer firefighter in Parker, Texas but that all came to a halt when my adoptive father (whom I call Pops by the way) was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The cancer had already metastasized to his spine and organs.
"The cancer had already metastasized to his spine and organs."
I dropped out of fire academy and spent every day of his last two months to live with him. We had grown close over the years after I had run away and I wanted to spend every last minute with him. Again, more fond memories. Even though we had in home hospice I was in charge of everything. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and feel free to pass when he wanted. No sense to live in pain just to stay on earth with us any longer, as selfish as I wanted to be at times, I let him know that I loved him and it was okay to leave me.
A few years after his passing I moved to Arkansas to get to know my adoptive family more. It worked out well, I am glad I moved here. The wonderful thing about Arkansas is all the outdoor adventures that can be had, and luckily the thirty- how ever many trips to Petit Jean mountain, I finally met the love of my life. Yes, absolutely, without a doubt the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me was meeting my mountain of a man Joshua. Yes, I dated not so great mentionable priors but I would never settle. I just had a gut feeling that my match was somewhere out there. I had even jokingly posted on Facebook back in the day that my future husband is probably on a mountain somewhere. HA! He really was! After almost a year of being together I decided to move closer to him so we could spend more time together. In the beginning of our relationship I lived and worked as a manager at AutoZone in Benton, Arkansas and traveled an hour and a half as often as I could to see him and vice versa. When I moved closer, I rented the cutest house in Morrilton which was close by and made the trip to see each other only about a half hour. We drew closer emotionally with this move making our bond grow even deeper.
So when or how on earth did I discover fly fishing?!
Believe it or not it wasn't until July 2019 when we were taking a cruise through the Ozarks for my 35 birthday. We were sightseeing and he wanted to pull over to do some small mouth bass fishing with his bait caster at Crooked Creek and I wanted to stretch my legs and get in a yoga sesh. While practicing yoga I saw a guy wet wading and fly fishing, which seemed even weirder than me practicing yoga on a creek. The guy noticed me starring and came over and asked if I wanted to try his fly rod. Needless to say, I couldn’t cast to save my life. Hahahah! It looked so easy but wasn’t. On our drive home Joshua asked if I liked fly fishing. I did! I just didn’t understand it, but I knew it was active and more fun than regular fishing. Joshua surprised me with a practice rod a few weeks later and I eventually graduated up to a real rod and got some basic gear to start out with. Our first trip was to The Little Red River. I couldn’t afford boots and waders so yoga leggings and my running shoes worked just fine. I caught my first rainbow trout and has addicted. Now granted I am still learning and enjoy learning all that there is to fly fishing. I have my good days and bad days, and when I have those bad days is when I enjoy being transparent with my followers to show we aren’t all perfect and don’t always catch a ton on every outing. The experience of being in the water, the sounds, all of nature and then seeing that line go tight periodically is gold.
We make it a point to go fly fishing every week and overland camp at least twice a month. Weather permitting. This active outdoor lifestyle is “our thing”, going on these fishing trips, camping and hiking has made us closer than I ever thought possible.
"It’s how we connect; it is pretty much our love language. So much so that Joshua proposed to me"
It’s how we connect; it is pretty much our love language. So much so that Joshua proposed to me while we were fly fishing at Yankee Doodle lake in Colorado this past summer for my birthday. Yes, we plan on having a few cute fly-fishing themed items at our wedding and yes, we are even getting married on a river!
So that’s me! I had a rough life, but I made the choice to stay positive, to make the most of every moment and I hope that you have the courage to do the same.
Tight Lines and good vibes y’all!