A couple of years ago I found myself with a bit of free time and chose to spend it on the Saugeen River. Each morning I would wave goodbye to Darrell as he headed for work, then I would pack my waders and float rod into the car and make the drive. Hitting my favorite spots mid-week meant I had the river to myself and could get in a few hours uninterrupted before the anglers would show up and I would head home. What really amazed me, however, were the number of early morning joggers and dog-walkers who constantly remarked on the fact that it was rare to see a female angler out there solo. These comments were meant in a positive way, but after a guide stopped me to say he was impressed that I was fishing without my boyfriend, I had to stop and wonder what all the fuss was about. To me, being female has nothing to do with the love of fishing, and although I fish with Darrell the majority of the time, that is because we are lucky enough to share the passion.
More recently, I was at the Spring Fishing and Boat Show working the Ontario Women Anglers Association booth. Again, I was struck by some of the comments I heard. One woman stopped to look at our information and her husband said, “Oh, it’s good to see females at the men’s fishing”. Really? The men’s show? Several men chided us on being a women’s only club, most in good nature, but some made me wonder. Although I have attended this particular show many times in the past, as I sat at the booth I was struck by the disproportionate number of men to women that walked past. I don’t consider it rare for women to be anglers, but we certainly seem underrepresented. Which brings me to the reason I was working the booth – the Ontario Women Anglers Association (OWAA).
The OWAA is a new organization formed by some of Ontario’s leading lady anglers, including Yvonne Brown, Carrie Cartwright, and Jennifer Fullard. The goal is to have:
a unique membership of conservation-minded individuals dedicated to providing avenues for other women to become a part of the fishing community and to foster the development of future anglers.
The reaction of most women at the Spring Fishing and Boat Show was, “It’s about time!”. It turns out that there are MANY women anglers out there; women who love to fish, tie on their own lures, bait their own hooks, and out-fish their male counterparts. Yet, somehow, we women rarely seem to find each other and share our fishing stories, or a day on the water.
The OWAA will be holding member conferences twice a year, with the first one tentatively set for April 13, 2014. Conferences will be for members and feature five to six speakers covering topics from terminology, to how to pick the right gear, and techniques for certain species. The speakers will be targeting skill sets from the most novice angler, to the women with years of fishing experience. It will be an event where women can meet other women anglers, learn more about the industry, discover opportunities they never knew existed, and be inspired by the many women anglers within the industry. Whether you’re looking to fish tournaments, or just wanting to feel competent on the river, this organization will provide the starting point. Other perks of membership include discounts at a growing number of tackle shops, and quarterly newsletters.
For women wondering what fishing is all about, Yvonne Brown runs Fishing 101 For Women. These events are the perfect way to learn about fishing and get an intro to the sport. It’s a great stepping-stone for joining the OWAA and sharing the fishing passion. For those interested in these events, sign up soon as the spaces disappear quickly.
I wish the OWAA had existed when I was first learning to fish so I could have asked another woman what the difference was between a crankbait and a jerkbait. Although Darrell was eager to teach me all he knew, I would often find myself standing in a tackle shop, trying to buy him a birthday gift, and feeling overwhelmed by the selection of products in front of me, and intimidated by the all-male staff. I would have enjoyed knowing a few female anglers I could have asked questions to, without tipping Darrell off about what I wanted to buy for him!
The OWAA is in its infancy, but the possibilities are endless. I am excited to be a member of this organization, and I hope that every female angler in Ontario embraces the opportunity to be part of this growing community.
For more information about joining the OWAA, check out their website.
Check out the recent Ontario Out Of Doors article about the OWAA.