Women in Fishing

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It has been on my mind now for the last couple of weeks as to why are women a minority in fishing?  Whether it is as part of a tournament, within fishing clubs or just a social fish the men always seem to out-weigh the women.

I took myself last week to go and join Illawarra Fly Fishing Club.  I didn’t know a soul but it was better that way.  It wasn’t long before I was introduced around to some long standing members and a table of 3 other keen women anglers.  These ladies welcomed me, happy that I now made 4 out of probably a room of approx 40 men.

Brains or brawn are not a requirement for fishing.  Well let me re-phrase that it does help to be a little bit smart about it.  So what’s stopping the women from joining in?

Firstly, I put it down to perception.  Here’s a challenge.  I dare you to go and ask a lady off the street her perception of fishing and I bet you get the answer of not wanting to touch the smelly bait, sitting their bored for hours thinking about all the unfinished tasks at home and then have to touch the fish that jumps around spiking you.  If you ask them why they haven’t tried it, too busy doing house work or looking after the kids.

A majority don’t understand that you can make fishing into any form you want it.  Whether it be the challenge of a tournament, the magic of fly fishing, actively hunting a target species with lures, either landbased, boat, kayak, kicking back waiting for a bite, getting the hands gruesome into the burley waiting for that big gamefish or making it a family affair.  It can be as active or pleasurable as you wish it.  This is what needs to be broadcasted across to the up and coming girls of our society.


Secondly husband/partners can either be a positive or negative influence.  They have to want to take and teach you so you’re comfortable in asking questions to learn.

I work with a group of ladies that ask why would I want to spend 8 hours in the boat with my husband.  For Scott and I this works as a positive tool in our relationship, not saying it will work for everyone.  I guess through growing and learning together we have become the best of buddies, I am the one that is cranky if I can’t get out for a fish.


Ladies you have to forget about the housework, train the husband/partner to help, which will free half your time and allow you get out and enjoy the sunrises, the fresh air, scenery and perhaps the adrenalin rush of that fish on the other end of your line.

It is about changing perception of what fishing actually is.  In my 20 odd years of fishing I have seen women grow in the sport but at a very slow pace.  From 1 to 2 ladies in a tournament it can now be regularly 4 or more and the same goes for fishing club attendance.

With mentors such as Dolly Dyer, Kim Bain and Leanne Payne who have done a fantastic job for us ladies in the sport it is great to see a new breed come through such as Jo Starling, Tracey Mammen, Hayley Bonnici, Melanie Young and Chloe Taylor to name a few that are helping mentor the younger generation.  These ladies are having a load of fun fishing and at the same time expressing that it is okay that you don’t know how to do everything but you will give it your best shot and have fun trying.  Great work ladies keep alive the passion.  Also with amount of available tools on the internet ladies don’t have to rely on partners to show them, you can learn off the computer at home and then the rest will come with time on the water.

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Before you men think this is a women’s rights column it is not.  I would just like to see more women introduced to the sport and experience the thrill.  Once the perception changes so will women’s attitudes and fishing will become part of their bucket list of sports to try.

There is nothing better than going away for a girl’s weekend, fishing tackle packed and boats in tow with the essentials packed such as plenty of wine and food.  Then wait for the fishing tales to begin; it is a load of fun.  Keep fishing and sharing ladies.

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14 responses to “Women in Fishing

  1. An excellent read Vicki! And a great perspective from an ever evolving angler. And that’s exactly what fishing is regardless of your gender. And ou can never evolve unless you get out and do it and meet new people.

  2. Great read Vicki! .. and I think you cover some good ground. I think a goodly number of women genuinely aren’t interested .. it is the gross stuff you mentioned .. bait .. hooks .. releasing spiky slimy fish with their sad little eyes. My wife isn’t al all interested but is hugely supportive of my passion. Why go to all the expense and trouble to lure and catch fish and then release them?? I’m sworn to keep some for the table though .. she loves eating fish. But then she takes a perfectly good piece of material .. cuts it into shapes and sews it back together again?? Passions aren’t easily explained!
    I’ve met some great fisherwomen .. Leanne Payne helped with some fly-casting lessons once. I think women make excellent fly-anglers in particular .. it’s more about timing than brute strength .. it you’ve ever tried to teach a bloke .. you know what I mean!
    I think you are right in terms of influencing perceptions .. not too sure how you might do that. My wife loves the places we might get to .. esp trout streams .. but she is content to read or sew admiring the scernery than picking up a rod
    Cheers Steve

    • Steve thanks for your comments. Yes I do believe some aren’t interested but believe that if some had a go and pushed away all those preconceived perceptions that they would actually enjoy it. It is great that you keep some for the table and your wife does enjoy eating them. We all have different perceptions I for one don’t understand sewing but can see that she gets a reward at the end of it, same with fishing. Each to their own I just think fishing is misconceived.

  3. Well said. This bring’s to mind a encounter this year at the Narrabeen ABT round where I spoke to a young lady (I didn’t ask her name) who just compleated her first event as a non boater and got her bag of 5.The lady had the biggest smile I have ever seen,she was over the moon.I was informed by her that she had finaly got the nerve to give it a go and that it was the best rush she has ever had.The thing that struck me the most (appart from the ear to ear grin) was that not a hair was out of place nor smudge of makeup including the bright red nail’s (now that has to be a skill).That just say’s to me that you don’t have to lose one ounce of femininity just because you can fish. Well done ladies.

    • Kurt thank you for your comments. I also know exactly whom you are talking about and it is such a great experience. I am glad she shared that with you and yes we don’t have to be blokes to enjoy it. Cheers for your comments.

  4. I started a fishing club for women about 8 years ago. We now have members from 6 states and have fishing outings year round. We give classes and clinics and go on fishing adventures together. Our numbers are really growing and I have found that once women get an introduction into the sport, they quickly become hooked. The secret is out and we will continue to share the passion. Nice article, and thanks for sharing. Barb Carey WI Women Fish.

    • Wow Barb that is a great thing. Never new it existed and absolutely fantastic to see it growing. Keep up the great work. Thank you for your kind words.

  5. I found my way here from Barb’s Facebook Page. I write about fishing (and hunting when it’s in season). A big key for me was being taken as a kid. My dad wanted boys, got two girls, and didn’t miss a beat. We fished all the time. I begged him to go fishing even when he was exhausted, and got turned down plenty. By the time I was old enough to get on my bike and go alone, I did. I love to fish, and often am dragging my co-angler boyfriend out more when he doesn’t care to go. The only bait I won’t touch are leeches- any type of parasite makes me run the other direction. Some people are just not outdoorspeople, and that’s ok. But I dislike the idea that it’s icky. You get to be in the sun, on the water, outside. Sometimes there’s beer! Plus you get fish. For me it’s a no brainer.

    • Amber thank you for your comments. That’s why there are so many forms of fishing. Not all women are in to touching bait, so artificial lures counteract this. I am with you, you can’t beat it being outdoors on the water. It is my euphoria.

  6. There are many women’s fishing clinics/ workshops and groups springing up everywhere for this very reason. A hand full of passionate individuals infect others to share this passion. I teach a number of women’s clinics for fly fishing in MI & WI and always throughly enjoy watching the transition from newbie to independent and very capable angler.

    We need to keep fostering female anglers and free women to enjoy this amazing sport. Here in the Eastern UP of Michigan it’s totally a mans world. I just had a women’s intro to fly fishing workshop where I mistakenly invited a man to represent his local fly shop and he informed the students that women in fly fishing are taking baby steps… How belittling #1 and #2 how very incorrect! He won’t be invited back and I’ll only have women teaching women from now on, especially impressionable beginners.

    One other stigma I’d like to correct is that an advanced angler does not like to fish with just advanced anglers. I myself love to fish with all levels and feel I can learn from ANYONE at ANYTIME and it’s all about the overall experience, fun and laughter! Don’t assume just because your experience leves are different that you can’t have a great time fishing with someone else! I find fishing with women in general is far more relaxing that fishing with most men (not all!) as it almost always ends up in a competition and spoils the fun.

    Keep paying it forward!

    • Hi Nome

      Thanks for your comments. It sounds fantastic what you are doing for women over there. I agree, there is no better feeling than introducing a lady to fishing and watching the thrill on her face when she catches her first fish. It is so amazing.

  7. What a great article that hits a lot of the stereotypes that keep some women away from fishing…and what a great sport it is! Thank you for bringing up the real factors that can make fishing so enjoyable – a great time with family or your spouse. It’s what you make it, and there is so much variety out there…thanks for this!

    • Hi Julie
      You are most welcome. Just speaking from the heart. Appreciate your comments. Regards Vicki

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