I turned the car radio up a little louder so I could hear it over the din of the rain. After almost three hours of driving, the rain was showing no signs of letting up, and I wondered how many ladies would decide to make the wet drive for this year’s Fishing 101 For Women seminar at the OFAH’s Mario Cortellucci Hunting & Fishing Heritage Centre in Peterborough.
For the second year in a row, I was lucky to be helping as an instructor for this great event that introduces women to the sport of fishing. The day is split between a classroom education portion, a hands-on technique rigging session, and a couple hours on the water where anglers get to try their new skills, or brush up on existing ones. If you want to learn to fish, get some additional knowledge, and meet some great ladies to fish with, this seminar is the place to do it.
Last year’s seminar was a pretty spectacular experience, and I was looking forward to seeing more of the same this year. I arrived to find I wasn’t the first person at the Centre – Yvonne Brown (founder of Fishing 101 and a person who puts in so many volunteer hours making this program run that I don’t think she actually sleeps) had already arrived, as had one of the other instructors, Chris McDougall, and a few participants. The rain slowed a few people down, but they eventually trickled in and the other instructors, Rachel Moffatt and Leslie-Anne Dungog, came through the door. Only a handful of ladies were unable to make the day.
Yvonne began the seminar with the usual introductions. I loved hearing Yvonne share a bit more about her personal life, Rachel sharing a story about helping a young girl catch a big fish, Leslie talking about fishing with her son, and Chris speaking to her passion for the sport and getting more ladies involved with it. I feel sorry for those ladies that have come to multiple events and hear me give basically the same introduction – I’ll have to vary it up a bit!
One of the most interesting things about the Fishing 101 seminars is to watch as anglers progress and grow in the sport. Two of the instructors, Leslie and Chris, were participants at the event last year, and had grown comfortable enough to help other ladies learn to fish. Many participants return year after year, event after event, taking in information that they didn’t grasp the first time, sharing their growing skills, and bringing new questions to the table. I loved watching the ladies add their opinions about topics, and found it refreshing that everyone seemed comfortable enough to ask questions and seek clarification. Instead of one person lecturing, there was more of a discussion. The conversational ball was rolling better than most of my university professors could have dreamed of.
After watching Yvonne spend the whole morning talking without a break last year, I had offered to do some of the speaking (which honestly, is really doing me a favour since I love to gab about fishing-related topics). Luckily, for my aquatic biologist side, I was able to blab about fish ID for a bit. It was great fun to get up there and help people understand the difference between a pumpkinseed and a bluegill.
The hands-on rigging session is a real strength of this program. Instead of handing participants an already rigged rod and sending them fishing, participants are shown how to attach the reel to the rod, run the line through the guides, set the drag, and how to tie knots. They are then shown how to rig a slip-float with a jighead, how to set a wacky rig, and how to texas-rig a senko. While they can choose any of these presentations to fish with, they can also cut the other ones off and keep them as a reference for when they go back home.
The rigging session is always entertaining as looks of concentration take over the faces of the instructors and participants alike. Laughter, frustration, and celebration when a knot finally works out, are common sights around the tables.
Fishing 101 for Women is blessed to have some incredible sponsors and thanks to them, the ladies all got to go home with something from the draw prize table – hats, buffs, shirts, rod gloves, and more. I should also mention here that Shimano donated rods and reels to the program that are much higher quality than what you would normally find in a learn-to-fish program. The ladies don’t know how spoiled they are.
Rain was beginning sprinkle once again as we headed to Little Lake in Peterborough to test out everyone’s new/improved skills. This is the time for new anglers to get casting instructions, and for everyone to ask questions. One of the best things about taking a group of women fishing is that they all just want to see others catching fish and having fun. Participants help each other out, taking on the roll of instructor as well as learner. I find that my role at these events is to not take things too seriously, just make sure everyone has a fun time and wants to go back out in the future.
While the fish were not overly cooperative on this outing, there were a few small ones willing to bite, and that made for plenty of hoots and hollers. It may have been wet out but everyone had a great time.
Participants started to splinter off from the group and head home. I left with my car full of Fishing 101 equipment that was needed for the next event, and still had to make a detour to pick-up some Black Copper Marans chicks I had arranged to buy (I managed to combine two of my passions into one day). Though it was a long, wet day, the enthusiasm of the participants and my fellow instructors made it yet another successful Fishing 101 for Women seminar. Please join us next year!
Big thanks to Mathew Depew of Mathew Depew Photography & Designs for again spending the day with us and capturing all the moments that make these events so great. Check out his work on his Facebook page.