As I wrote this summer, I survived my first ICAST, the fishing industry’s largest tradeshow, and found some great finds for female solo travelers. Ranging from services to gear to fun gifts, here are my top 2017 ICAST finds.
Able Women Fly Fishing
Able Women brag about casting like a girl. And they darn well should.
Fly fishing is something I’m working on learning. I suppose because it’s challenging and poetic in an artful-type way, making it enjoyable. And by artful, I’m not referring to the flies but to the necessary composure, grace and discipline needed in the cast and of course, the challenge of landing fish with a fly, which I have yet to do!
I met Able Women ambassador Jessica Callihan who told me a bit about their initiative of educating women about the spiritual, emotional and physical benefits fly fishing. It’s also transformational, which is what Callihan has gotten out of it. After enlisting in the Navy in 2007, she injured herself during training. She credits fly fishing with Project Healing Waters, an Able Women corporate partner that helps wounded military veterans recover from emotional and physical injuries from combat, with helping her heal.
Able Women is getting the word out about the power of fly fishing and how it can positively impact the human will and spirit through events (such as summits) and attending fishing trade shows. They are seeking ambassadors who have “been positively impacted through fly fishing.” If fly fishing has helped you and powerfully touched you, consider applying to be an Able Women ambassador.
Learn more about Able Women at ablewomenflyfish.com.
I’ll be honest, although I was responsible for buying fishing tackle and equipment including rods and reels when I was the Marina Store Manager in Flamingo back in the day, I still can’t tell ya what a good rod and reel is. Not know the difference between good and bad gear is one of my insecurities with fishing (I can tell ya D.O.A. Lures and Hookup Lures’ bucktails are reliable lines of lures for landing fish. How do I know? This is what I ordered for Flamingo and both lines flew off the shelves).
But, I attended a press conference CastAway Rods held and learned more about the company’s philosophy, how the rods are made, and the innovation behind each rod. During the press conference, CastAway debuted the ultra-premium Titania and next generation Invicta II rod. I spoke with several female anglers who said CastAway’s Lady Angler line is their preferred rods because of how lightweight they are. There’s one thing about having fishing pros and the owner telling you how good their products are, but another is hearing endorsements from actual anglers has sold me. Maybe a CastAway Lady Angler will be my first fishing rod. Learn more www.castawayrods.com.
I was excited meeting the FishWithMe.net folks because this is PERFECT for female solo travelers. It’s an online community that connects anglers interested in fishing with a buddy but don’t have anyone to fish with. The trips are coordinated online and whether from the shore or from a boat, you’re splitting associated costs with your new angling buddy. Plus, you’ll probably learn new fishing techniques and tips and may even find a new fishing hole in your neighborhood.
This is a relatively new service and more people are learning about it and joining. Like any online community, after your sign up, you can add your photo, “about me” information and photos of your choosing. I uploaded a few fishing photos of me. The founders are from Chicago-area and South Florida so memberships are concentrated in those areas. There is an annual membership fee of $36. Or, there’s a 30-day membership for $14.99.
A word of caution, some of the members are licensed fishing guides while others are recreational anglers. This is a terrific marketing tool for licensed guides because they can promote open space on their charters, in the event they have a solo angler looking to share the costs with someone else. Visit FishWithMe.net.
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
I’m a bit embarrassed I was not aware of this but the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) holds free Women’s Saltwater Fishing Clinics (WFCs) throughout the state, throughout the year. These are one-day, shore-based clinics to introduce women to the basics of saltwater fishing. In addition to skills and techniques such as cast netting, knot tying, rod and reel basics, and catch and release techniques, women learn “how to be responsible, ethical stewards of Florida’s marine resources.”
Have I mentioned these FWC Women’s Saltwater Fishing Clinics are free? Advance registration is required and is open to women 18 years and older and a fishing license is required to attend. FWC has equipment available for participants to use but they’re encouraged to bring their own. At the end of the clinic, women can apply what they learned either by fishing from a pier or shore. Clinics are catch and release.
According to the FWC, more than “1,000 women have experienced the educational and exciting Women’s Saltwater Fishing Clinics,” since 2010.
Find an upcoming Women’s Saltwater Fishing Clinic and learn more about the program by visiting the FWC website myfwc.com.
Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!
I’m very familiar with Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!, the “no yelling school of fishing” for women. I participated in a LLGF weekend several years in the Keys and learned a lot about saltwater fishing, everything from baiting a hook to docking a boat. The program is known for teaching women fishing basics with patience without the intimidation and yelling of men (when I was married, yes, my husband yelled at me. One time, it ended with me having a broken thumb as a result of loading the boat onto the trailer.)
All programs take place in Florida but you do not need to be a Florida resident to attend. In fact, a Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! weekend is a great girlfriend getaway (or solo female traveler adventure) and escape to Florida for those who live in cooler climes. Seminars take place throughout the state and visit their website for the upcoming schedule. LadiesLetsGoFishing.com
When I attended ICAST, I had a big road trip planned for October and I began putting non-perishable food and supplies together in August. During ICAST I met with representatives of OMEALS, prepackaged meals that use a liquid to prepare, like MREs. It’s been awhile since I’ve eaten this type of meal and what I found different was that when liquid is added to cook the meal, it does not touch the food. The food is in a separate, sealed package and the liquid boils (use water, beer, whatever) because of the included heating element. Plastic cutlery is included, too. Eat from the pouch and cleanup is easy.
After ICAST, I ended up ordering several to use for my road trip but ended up using some following Hurricane Irma. I tried the Pasta Fagioli, Lentils and Beef and South-style Chicken and Rice and they were all pretty tasty and filling and perfect for having on hand either for a day on the water, out on the road, or in the pantry when you don’t want to cook. Of course, it’s a great addition to an emergency kit.
They also have breakfast items, which I have not tasted, and cheese bites which are an acquired taste. I like them but when I shared them in the office, well, they didn’t go over so well. I suppose it’s because it’s almost like eating astronaut ice cream. The cheese is crunchy vs. smooth. The cheese bites have 11 grams of protein which makes it great for those on the go.
Whether you’re an experienced or novice female angler, you need to connect with SheFishes2 which is run by Debbie Hanson. I personally know Debbie and have watched her blog and career blog grow over the years and I’m so proud of what she’s accomplished. She grew up fishing in the Midwest and started SheFishes2.com because she could not find a fishing resource just for women. SheFishes2 provides “fishing resources and tips for the empowered female angler.”
She and her husband live in Southwest Florida and she is the one who ignited my interest in fly fishing through hosting local, women-only fly fishing seminars in conjunction with West Wall Fly Shop. Debbie writes about fresh and saltwater fishing and is a wealth of information. Visit SheFishes2.com and you’ll be hooked!
Sports Women You Ought to Know
The outdoors community is full of amazing people and yet, women are underrepresented. Through Debbie of SheFishes2.com, I met Gabriella Hoffman, who is hitting the ground running and making a significant impact in the outdoors world through her Sports Women You Ought to Know online series. Gabriella interviews trailblazing women making an impact in the outdoors and broadcasts them through her Facebook page, The Gabby Hoffman. Ain’t gonna lie. I’m a bit envious of where Gabriella is in life. She’s young, smart and is using media that wasn’t available to me when I was her age. Definitely connect with Gabriella by giving her Facebook page a like. Facebook.com/thegabbyhoffman
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links in order to support this blog, my traveling habit and my special-needs dog. As a member of the member, I received a complimentary membership to FishWithMe.net in order to evaluate the service. Opinions are my own.