Getting new anglers excited about fishing is one of my favourite things, and there’s no better way to do that than at the Ontario Women Anglers (OWA) Angler – New Angler Fishing Day. This year’s event was held July 9th at Ken Whillans Resource Management Area in Caledon. Held in partnership with Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), this event aims to bring women anglers of all experience levels together, to share knowledge, experience, passion, and many laughs.
Despite rain the night before, the morning was perfect and sunny when I arrived at the park. After picking up some worms, the rest of the volunteers arrived and we started setting up our registration table and the fishing gear. OWA provides all the gear for this day – rods, reels, terminal tackle, and the bait – so anglers need only to show up.
As participants began signing in, I had the chance to ask them about their fishing experience. Some were experienced anglers, others had tried fishing before, and some had never held a fishing rod. Fortunately, several OWA members (Chris, Anneliese, Leslie, Patti, and Chris – yes, there were two Chris’) attended the event as volunteer instructors, and were ready to help everyone with their questions and show them some new skills.
The participants broke into groups with the instructors and went looking for a spot around the pond to fish. There are two ponds at Ken Whillans – largely known as the bass pond or the trout pond, so there were plenty of areas to cast a line. Trails and boardwalks surround the ponds, with fishing piers and picnic tables set up at several locations for easy access to the water. The ponds are a beautiful place to spend the day, bordered by naturalized areas and abundant wildlife, and many families were there taking advantage of the summer weather.
While I stayed back at the tables waiting for a few more participants to arrive, I could hear shrieks coming from across the pond – someone had a nibble! The excitement and surprise of that first nibble never gets old. Laughter started carrying across the water and the groups I could see appeared to be having a great time.
After doing some knot-tying demonstrations and setting the last group of anglers up with their rods, I went for a walk with the camera to see how things were going. Smiles, laughter, and fish stories greeted me wherever I went. The sunfish were biting, entertaining people as always, those wonderful little scrappers. Some groups were really focused on bass, but when a sunfish was caught, everyone would get excited. Nothing will hook a new angler quite like a sunny. I watched as the instructors helped with casting and gave tips for reeling in bait. I listened to questions being asked and answered.It was wonderful.
The end of the morning came all too quick. Groups started making their way back to the tables, laughing, chatting, comparing numbers of fish caught. So many people commented on how awesome their instructor was. Raffle tickets were available, with the first prize being the 50/50 draw. The proceeds from the 50/50 went to the Kelly Shires Breast Cancer Foundation. After that, those with raffle tickets were in to win some awesome prizes from our sponsors.
It was incredible to hear the enthusiasm and desire to go fishing again. Many participants said they would try to make the OWA Fishing 101 for Women seminar coming up in Orangeville on August 6th. I hope they do make it out!
Thanks to the awesome instructors who spent their morning sharing this great pastime with others. And big thanks to Leslie-Anne Dungog for being my co-conspirator in organizing this event. She’s the detail person who makes sure we actually have everything we need the morning of the event! Thanks also goes out to Credit Valley Conservation for partnering with the Ontario Women Anglers on this event.
I hope to see everyone at Island Lake in Orangeville this coming weekend (August 6, 2016). For more information, and to register, check out the website.
For more pictures from the Angler – New Angler event, check out Ontario Women Anglers on Facebook.