Do you remember what it was like to hold a fishing rod for the first time? How about tying your first knot? Do you remember feeling overwhelmed while standing in a tackle shop and trying to make sense of the variety of lures? I remember all of these things quite well, since I felt that way only a few years ago.
Fishing can be quite daunting to those wanting to learn the sport. You have to figure out what rod and reel you need to use, what sort of lures or bait will meet your needs, and how the heck do you even cast? On top of that, when you’re new to the game you may not realize that there are fishing regulations, so you need to learn those, and that means you need to know basic fish identification. If you’re lucky, you will have family or friends that can teach you the basics. However, you may not have anyone around who can teach you, or maybe you just want to learn from a stranger. And if you’re a woman, learning from other women may be what you are looking for. This is where Fishing 101 for Women comes in.
Fishing 101 for Women is a program created by Yvonne Brown, and it seeks to provide females with the opportunity to learn and expand their angling skills. In its second year, the program has grown and started offering even more opportunities. Through a day-long seminar, or a weekend long event, interested women get an introduction to fishing regulations, licence requirements, safety aspects, fish identification, invasive species and equipment. Participants are then taught how to tie knots and rig various presentations, followed by the good stuff – actually wetting a line.
I was fortunate enough to help out as an instructor at the first Fishing 101 for Women seminar this year, held June 22nd at the OFAH Mario Cortellucci Hunting and Fishing Heritage Centre in Peterborough, Ontario. With Yvonne leading the seminar, myself and the other instructors, Carrie Cartwright and Rachel Moffatt, were there to help when needed and provide a little more private instruction with the rigging and fishing.
My first impression upon signing in the participants was that everyone seemed excited and happy to be there. It’s always a good start to the day when people actually want to be there. The morning began with introductions and a bit of of a talk from each instructor about their background in fishing. After listening to the other instructors share their stories, I myself was feeling rather inspired by the awesomeness of fishing and the amazing ladies I was sharing the floor with.
This event was all about providing a supportive environment for the participants to learn in, and as I listened, I was pleased to hear questions being asked about every aspect of the presentation. People were obviously paying attention. As I watched Yvonne’s presentation, it struck me how hard it must be to put together a program that gives participants enough information to move forward on their own, but not so much that they feel too overwhelmed and defeated before they even get going. Judging by the cheerful moods and discussion over lunch, I would say that Yvonne did a fantastic job of finding the right balance.
After lunch was a chance for some hands on work as the women learned how to tie a palomar knot, texas-rig a senko, and rig up a slip float. Some people had no experience with any of these skills, while others had used these presentations before. Everyone at my table seemed to pick up the skills in no time, which was nice because they made me look like a better teacher than I am. I definitely went home to think about how I could explain things better.
Finally, the highlight of the day had arrived – time to fish! The group was split in two, with half of the participants getting a tour of Hunting and Fishing Heritage Centre, while the other half headed out to the Shimano Fish Pond, and switching after an hour. Participants had the choice of using their slip float rigs for panfish, or using the texas-rigged senko for bass. They were warned ahead of time that the bass are not usually hungry (having plentiful panfish to feast on). Of course, the very first person to toss out a senko managed to land a bass, and she followed that up with a second one not long after. I’m not sure who was smiling more – me or her. Some participants required an introduction to casting, others were quite comfortable with it. The rods and reels provided by Shimano were perfect for this event (and far better than the combo I learned to fish with). More than a few participants told me they didn’t even care if they caught a fish, they just liked casting – I have said that so many times.
The day ended with some draw prizes and a wrap-up of the event. While women had come to the event for different reasons, every single one of them looked more confident in their abilities by the end of the day, and all seemed to be looking forward to their next fishing experience.
For me, it really was an amazing experience. I left there feeling inspired. I can’t wait for the next opportunity when I can introduce someone to fishing. Sharing this passion is one heck of a good feeling, and seeing other women getting that spark of interest was extremely rewarding.
Fishing 101 for Women looks to have a very promising future. This is a fantastic program that helps to ensure the growing participation of women in this sport, and it provides a fun and supportive environment for learning.
If you think this program sounds like fun, I encourage you to sign up for a seminar. If you have a company that could sponsor this event, please help out. If you would like to get involved as an instructor, do it. Get involved and get people fishing.