When Cami Mantilla (@cami_cakes_ on Instagram) was three years old, she moved with her parents from Bogotà, Colombia to Miami and eventually to Jacksonville, Florida.
As a girl, Cami frequently fished with her father, Reinaldo, reeling in whatever was biting in the backwaters and rivers of the area. When she was nine, though, her parents divorced, and Reinaldo moved to Canada.
After her father’s relocation, Cami hardly fished at all, becoming more interested in the “typical teenager stuff.”
Two years ago, during her first year at the University of Florida, Cami met her current boyfriend, who is an avid angler. His interest in fishing helped her remember how much she loved it.
“It was very sentimental, I didn’t realize how much I missed doing it until I started going out fishing with my boyfriend,” she says.
Now a junior, majoring in psychology and ceramics — she’s pursuing a career in art therapy — Cami is living in New Orleans, where her boyfriend moved after receiving a job offer. She’s working and attending school online, but they get out to fish whenever they can.
Cami loves reeling in redfish — and the brackish waters of south Louisiana make for prime redfish habitat. Some of her favorite spots are near Golden Meadow and Grand Isle, were the reds hit hard, spotted trout are plentiful, and the occasional largemouth even ventures into the mixed fresh and salt water.
“It’s fun, it’s sentimental, and I really enjoy the peace and quiet,” Cami says. “I like getting away from society and things like social media for a while. And fishing is a relaxing way to do it.”
Given her popularity as a fishing personality on social media, one could see how Cami may need the occasional break. Fishing helps with both.
Surprisingly, Cami’s tackle box isn’t all that deep.
“I use my golden spoon for everything,” she says, referring to her gold-colored, half-ounce redfish spoon from H&H Lures. “It’s all scratched up, kind of embarrassing, but it works great. I never take it off my line.”
As good as things are going for Cami, her father is not faring so well. Last August, he suffered from a heart attack as he was returning home from work. His condition was complicated with a case of severe pneumonia, which left him bedridden for two months.
Reinaldo is still hospitalized, but he’s out of the woods. Now he’s working on rehabilitation, following a physical therapy regimen and re-learning all that his muscles forgot while they lay in bed atrophying.
Needless to say, the last several months have been difficult for Cami and her family. Her good friends at J.F. Addict — one of Cami’s sponsors — helped her start a GoFundMe page to help Reinaldo, quite literally, get back on his feet.
During the month of February, J.F. Addict is donating a percentage of the sales from their online store to Reinaldo’s GoFundMe.
Meanwhile, Cami remains optimistic, working hard at her job and at school. And when things are a little too stressful, Cami goes fishing.