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Fishing Women

Fishing has been a recreational pursuit I have enjoyed for many years. Whilst it is primarily a male dominated sport, women are being given more opportunities to take part in the industry. This has been a long, drawn out process though and we've got to hand it to the ladies who pioneered the sport for the fairer sex.

Accepting women into the sport of fishing has also become more prominent with the passing of time, as it has been in other areas - voting, becoming members of once "male only" clubs, and to feature more widely in such sports as tennis where today, greater television coverage is given to the girls than in the past.

ANSA

One movement which began its existence as a male only club was ANSA (Australian National Sportfishing Association). It was back in the early days though that gee whiz, they needed a female to record the minutes of the meeting.

And that's where Jennifer Mondora stepped into the role, and ANSA. Previously, she wasn't allowed into the meetings with her husband and instead waited outside until the meeting had drawn to a close. Times certainly have changed with a large number of females joining the ranks of the club.

Marina Hoare was elected the first female president of an Ansa club in her home town of Cairns. She joined the Cairns Sportfishing Club in 1982 and after compiling the club's newsletter for a period of four years, was elected President, a position she held for six years.

She was pleased to know that when she "retired" from the position, there were another six female Presidents of Ansa clubs in Queensland.

She was also elected the President of Ansa Queensland. Her rise within the ranks was met with mixed feelings amongst the general members and she too had her doubts about her position.

She felt that everything had happened very quickly and was concerned whether it "looked good" to have a female on board. It could not have been too bad as she has held the position for six years.

Marina has also been awarded the Eric Moller Award. This is the highest accolade Ansa Qld can bestow on one of its members, for both fishing ability and commitment to Ansa.

Her fishing abilities match those to running a successful club. Her greatest achievement was winning the North Queensland Championships, beating some of the best anglers in the State.

She won champion angler (overall), champion female, champion team and line class honours of 1kg, 2kg and 4kg.

The Tackle Shop Blues

Although there is more tolerance towards fisherwomen, there are still occasions where they can be made to feel like second class citizens. Walking through the doors of a tackle shop is one of them.

I believe that male tackle shop assistants with a patronising attitude towards women are becoming fewer but still, they do exist.

One of the more common complaints is that they are made to feel like they're treading in a man's domain and can't wait to leave.

Complaint number two is to be ignored completely. Women as well as men have money to burn when it comes to loading up on fishing tackle, whether it be buying a gift or spending it on themselves. Acknowledgement of us girls in store can lead to quite a lot more money going through the till.

Complaint number three would be the loathing of being called Sweetie, Lovey or Deary. Ughh!!! Besides sounding condescending, it really is a pet hate of many women to be called one of these derogatory terms.

A little understanding and plenty of assistance can go a long way into turning the female customers into regular customers.

I've also had the experience of working on the other side of the counter in a tackle outlet. I admit, I don't know every minor detail about the thousands of lines we carry but on the other hand, I can certainly help with the large majority of items in stock.

Sometimes it takes a little time to "break down the barrier" between myself and a male customer. Friendly chatter about fishing in general seems to work well. If a customer is viewing a selection of lures well suited to Flathead, I'll often ask where he's venturing to chase those particular fish.

Most are surprised to discover that I do know what I'm talking about and usually, we will continue the conversation with other related fishing experiences.

In many instances, they'll even ask which lures they should be selecting. The best moment of all is when that particular customer walks back through the door to let me know they've caught fish on the lure. That's great.

In the beginning, I knew a lot of females required help when selecting tackle but I was also surprised at the lack of fishing knowledge some gents possess. When I was younger, I assumed that fishing was in the male genes and guys knew everything there was to know about fish. How mistaken was I!

Fishing has been a recreational pursuit I have enjoyed for many years. Whilst it is primarily a male dominated sport, women are being given more opportunities to take part in the industry. This has been a long, drawn out process though and we've got to hand it to the ladies who pioneered the sport for the fairer sex.

Accepting women into the sport of fishing has also become more prominent with the passing of time, as it has been in other areas - voting, becoming members of once "male only" clubs, and to feature more widely in such sports as tennis where today, greater television coverage is given to the girls than in the past.

ANSA

One movement which began its existence as a male only club was ANSA (Australian National Sportfishing Association). It was back in the early days though that gee whiz, they needed a female to record the minutes of the meeting.

And that's where Jennifer Mondora stepped into the role, and ANSA. Previously, she wasn't allowed into the meetings with her husband and instead waited outside until the meeting had drawn to a close. Times certainly have changed with a large number of females joining the ranks of the club.

Marina Hoare was elected the first female president of an Ansa club in her home town of Cairns. She joined the Cairns Sportfishing Club in 1982 and after compiling the club's newsletter for a period of four years, was elected President, a position she held for six years.

She was pleased to know that when she "retired" from the position, there were another six female Presidents of Ansa clubs in Queensland.

She was also elected the President of Ansa Queensland. Her rise within the ranks was met with mixed feelings amongst the general members and she too had her doubts about her position.

She felt that everything had happened very quickly and was concerned whether it "looked good" to have a female on board. It could not have been too bad as she has held the position for six years.

Marina has also been awarded the Eric Moller Award. This is the highest accolade Ansa Qld can bestow on one of its members, for both fishing ability and commitment to Ansa.

Her fishing abilities match those to running a successful club. Her greatest achievement was winning the North Queensland Championships, beating some of the best anglers in the State.

She won champion angler (overall), champion female, champion team and line class honours of 1kg, 2kg and 4kg.

The Tackle Shop Blues

Although there is more tolerance towards fisherwomen, there are still occasions where they can be made to feel like second class citizens. Walking through the doors of a tackle shop is one of them.

I believe that male tackle shop assistants with a patronising attitude towards women are becoming fewer but still, they do exist.

One of the more common complaints is that they are made to feel like they're treading in a man's domain and can't wait to leave.

Complaint number two is to be ignored completely. Women as well as men have money to burn when it comes to loading up on fishing tackle, whether it be buying a gift or spending it on themselves. Acknowledgement of us girls in store can lead to quite a lot more money going through the till.

Complaint number three would be the loathing of being called Sweetie, Lovey or Deary. Ughh!!! Besides sounding condescending, it really is a pet hate of many women to be called one of these derogatory terms.

A little understanding and plenty of assistance can go a long way into turning the female customers into regular customers.

I've also had the experience of working on the other side of the counter in a tackle outlet. I admit, I don't know every minor detail about the thousands of lines we carry but on the other hand, I can certainly help with the large majority of items in stock.

Sometimes it takes a little time to "break down the barrier" between myself and a male customer. Friendly chatter about fishing in general seems to work well. If a customer is viewing a selection of lures well suited to Flathead, I'll often ask where he's venturing to chase those particular fish.

Most are surprised to discover that I do know what I'm talking about and usually, we will continue the conversation with other related fishing experiences.

In many instances, they'll even ask which lures they should be selecting. The best moment of all is when that particular customer walks back through the door to let me know they've caught fish on the lure. That's great.

In the beginning, I knew a lot of females required help when selecting tackle but I was also surprised at the lack of fishing knowledge some gents possess. When I was younger, I assumed that fishing was in the male genes and guys knew everything there was to know about fish. How mistaken was I!

Last updated: September 27, 2001 1999-2001 SportsFish. All rights reserved.
Comments to webmaster@sportsfishaustralia.com.au

Tackle Show Experiences

Having worked at tackle shows for the past six years has given me a fantastic insight into the way the fellows view women in the industry.

And you know what? It's pretty positive. I've had people from all age groups and both sexes approach me to talk about fishing. Sometimes it will be chatter about a magazine article I had submitted, otherwise fishing destinations will be the topic of conversation. It's always easy to open a discussion when fishing's the common denominator.

Every now and again though there will be the odd fellow who would just love to prove me wrong, just to make himself look good. I usually keep smiling and talk fishing just as well as the next "guy".

To get to that stage though, I've been very fortunate enough to have a partner who has given me minimal help whilst out on the water. Okay, you may think that's a little strange or that he's uncaring but in fact, his lack of assistance has helped me to establish a better understanding of the sport.

Why? I've had to tie my own knots, rig my own flylines, make choices as to which lure, fly or bait I should use. He has given me the independence and the confidence to make my own decisions on where I should fish and how I should go about catching a fish.

That's what makes it a lot easier for me to participate in seminars and talk to the general public about fishing. With hands on experience and time on the water, I've been able to relate to the problems others may be having because in my travels, I've no doubt come across the same troubles.

And you do need to make mistakes to become better.

That first Billfish on fly

I found out about learning from your mistakes a couple of years ago while filming for my video "How to Hook a Beauty" when I decided to add marlin on fly as a segment.

I'd never caught one on fly before at that stage but under the watchful guidance of legendary fly fisher, Rod Harrison, I was confident of a capture.

But it was not without making a few glitches along the way, major ones at that considering the cost of video making. I'm ever so glad that there were good number of Black Marlin offshore from Noosa that day so the segment could be completed.

I made my way through every conceivable method of losing a billfish. Line wrapped the handle of the reel was one. Another was line wrapped around my hand after a solid hookup on a nice sized fish. I was very lucky the flyline let go.

It was just prior to making that cast that I had looked down to see the flyline a little twisted. I was about to change rods when the skipper called a fish on one of the teasers. Damn!

With that, I turned and concentrated on the fish. The cast was perfect and the hookup was textbook stuff. The line ran through the guides at a great rate of knots as the fish made its run.

That's when the coil of line rose from the deck and wrapped around my hand and reel. I hung on for dear life and for a moment I thought I would lose my hand. Thankfully, the enormous amount of pressure caused the flyline to break off.

Since that day and a number of Billfish later, I can honestly say that nothing has gone dramatically wrong when I have targeted Sailfish and Marlin. After making all those initial mistakes, I know exactly what can go wrong and avoid circumstances which can turn a trip into a disaster. Even so, I'm sure I'll make a mistake again one day but hey, we're human after all.

Women catching fish

I love conversing with other women about catching fish and it sure as hell beats talking about the after Christmas sales or make-up.

There are a considerable number of women who can competently catch fish from start to finish. They can rig their own gear, cast, and play the fish in to be either released or filleted for the barbecue. Experienced fisherwomen which come to mind include the likes of Jennifer Mondora, Tasmanians Jan Spencer and Lisa Hayes, author Julie McEnally and Northern Territory guide Dorothy Williams.

On the other hand, there are women who love to go out fishing but will call for assistance when baiting their hook and unhooking the catch. Some will even surrender the rod because they're nervous of losing the fish.

It's not a bad idea for the guys to allow their partner to play the fish whilst guiding her through the fight. After the fish is boated, coax them into unhooking the fish. If you teach the basics from start to finish on how to catch a fish, it will give both parties the opportunity to catch more fish at a later stage.

It's just like the basics of car maintenance. Once you're shown how to check the oil and tyre pressure, it becomes second nature.

Although some women aren't quite confident of landing fish, men still astound me when they say girls can't fish at all and doubt the capture of any decent sized fish made by a woman.

It happened to me after catching the prize winning Jew during a competition at Rainbow Beach back in 1995. Afterwards, I heard stories that the fish had purchased the fish from the markets, my partner had caught the fish and even someone I don't even know had landed the fish on my behalf.

The scepticism surrounding that capture has led me to boycott other competitions of a similar nature.

After analysing that competition, I feel as though I was targeted simply because I was female but I presume male winners have undergone uncertainties as to their captures as well.

Competitions and Women

On the subject of competitions, I must admit that I cannot comprehend why there are separate categories for males and females in competitions.

Fishing is one of the most level playing fields we have when it comes to males and females competing against one another in a sport.

I feel the genders should not be separated because there is no obvious reason to do so. We're not disabled in any way just because we're female. Sometimes strength is required to pull a knot tight or sometimes you wish you had just a little more muscle to coax in those larger fish.

My biggest qualm relating to the separation of the sexes is at the presentation night. After fishing several fly tournaments as the only female competitor, I loathe to take to the stage and accept a prize for champion female angler.

I usually keep up with the boys but to receive this token prize simply because I am female is embarrassing. After consulting the dictionary, it seems as though a "booby" prize may be a more appropriate name for the prize given to the winner of a so-called female section!

I know of some women who have been the sole female competitor, haven't even landed a fish but have still walked away with a couple of grand's worth of prizes.

It's no wonder the boys become agitated.

Big difference though if it's an all girls competition but hey, you can pretty much count those on one hand in Australia!

Separate categories for female record holders is another area which I feel is not warranted. Okay, prior to the separate records there were more men holding records but that's only because more men than women fish.

I suppose female record chasers wanted the women's category to build a larger portfolio of records for themselves. Some have even claimed records for embarrassingly sub-standard fish just because there's a gap there to be filled.

If a female wants to gain respect in this industry, it's got to be through hard work and worthwhile achievement.

GAMEFISHING

Although women are still seen as a novelty on game fishing boats, or a bikini clad decoration, there is an increasing number of women who are extremely serious about the sport.

In a world of big boats and big fish, it's refreshing to see the girls driving the boats, working the deck, catching fish, tagging and then releasing them.

In the past year, I've fished on a number of occasions with Fred and Michelle Temminck of Mooloolaba and have witnessed the pure dedication and effort Michelle puts into her fishing.

Unfortunately, their boat building business "Kevlacat" takes up the majority of their time with fishing excursions limited to the weekends.

But when "time out" is called, the phones are turned off and work is forgotten about. The TLD's, rods and tackle are loaded into their Kevlacat "Reel Capture" for a weekend full of fish catching.

Michelle started fishing as a youngster in estuary and beach situations but nowadays, she nominates game fishing as being the most exciting type of fishing she has encountered. Fred has nurtured her passions for catching larger fish with the two of them making a fine team.

In 1997-98, she started fishing in tournaments and club fishing and it wasn't long before she had tagged 50 billfish. She decided to go for the Sir Garrick Agney Award for the most billfish tagged and released in one season in Australian waters. The record stood at 54.

The season was an exceptional one for her boat Reel Capture which tagged and released over 250 billfish. Needless to say, Michelle took out the award with 88 billfish caught in one season.

The 97-98 season also saw Michelle start out in heavy tackle. Her first big fish was a very solid 400 pound Black Marlin which was successfully tagged and released during the Port Stephens Shootout tournament.

Her boat won day three of the same competition with Michelle catching and releasing five Billfish. At the presentation, the jaws of many men dropped as Michelle received her prizes saying that "I can't believe a woman of this size fights big fish!"

Michelle believes that gamefishing is no longer a blokey sport though admits it does require a lot of teamwork and communication on deck to be successful.

Lure, Flyfishing and the girls

Lure and flyfishing appears to be somewhat more attractive to the girls than baiting a hook with mullet gut. Artificials are a clean alternative, avoiding the "stink bait" fishing which so many women dislike.

It's a great way of making the fishing more enjoyable and at the end of the day, you smell more like a human than a rotting fish.

Flyfishing has become popular in this country and at times, can be more productive than lures and baits. It is a sport which is fascinating to watch and a good flycaster can hold an audience captive for hours. Television shows such as Wildfish and A River Somewhere have stirred many into picking up a flyrod.

Flycasting is a sport which the girls usually pick up relatively easy. Men tend to use brute strength to load the rod and make a cast. They also use their muscles to compensate for bad timing. Women need to call upon technique to make the cast.

Generally, women are easier to teach as they listen and are considerably more patient than men.

In summary, fishing has been a male dominated sport and indeed, it will remain so in the future.

For starters, women get the short straw when it comes to rearing the kids and they're often the ones who have to stay at home to babysit. Busier lifestyles juggling both work and the kids means there's not a lot of time left in the day for recreational pursuits.

In addition, there is just the plain old fact that women still see fishing as being a bit on the gruesome side, a sport in which men go out hunting and bring home the "kill".

As one who grew up as somewhat of a tomboy, I can't see what the fuss is about when it comes to having a little bait under the fingernails after a day on the water. I don't mind the smell or the grime associated with the catching of fish, I love it.

Women have definitely become more noticeable in fishing circles, taking on more prominent positions in fishing clubs, tackle shops, writing, fishing shows on the t.v. and radio as well as fisheries management roles. Other women just go out and fish to spend a relaxing day on the water.

All of these women I admire and we share the same aspiration - that is to fish whenever and where ever we like, to catch new species and visit new destinations for the love of the sport.

If women have the desire, interest and the ability to fish, they are no different to men and are capable of achieving anything they want, just like in any other sport.







Fishing Women




Web Link

http://www.sportsfish.com.au/stories/leeann/womenandfishing/



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