Share what you know and living in Southwest Florida, here are a few fishing resources to help female anglers gain confidence and get out on the water to catch the big one. Or at least, reel in their first catch.
My earliest memory of wetting a line was with my grandfather during one of many family spring break trips to Sarasota, Fla. Maybe it’s so memorable because of this image I have (see below).
I fondly remember boating with my grandpa and how he stopped the boat at sandbars in Sarasota Bay so the “adults,” my parents, uncles, and grandfather, would collect large seashells. I also remember stopping at Hart’s Landing before heading to the fishing pier and seeing what the anglers were reeling in.
Throughout my life, I have been an intermittent angler, meaning, it’s not something I regularly do and I’m not sure why. I guess a lot of it is lack of confidence in my ability to fish, which seems silly when you think about what fishing is. Knowing the regulations seems overwhelming. Figuring out how to tie a proper knot so the hook, bait/lure, and fish stays connected. Knowing how to properly release a fish without harming it or harming myself (if it’s a catfish).
I don’t necessarily have someone to fish with which is really ironic because part of my job is to promote fishing in the destination I represent. I know dozens of guides and recreational anglers and it’s only occasionally do I receive an invitation to fish.
With that all being said, at least I have had the experience and know the thrill and challenge of catching a fish. I know the patience it takes; the relaxation of being around water; and the stunning scenery and views, whether it’s from a boat and seeing dolphins or from a shoreline and watching birds. I know, for whatever reason, there are women my age (late 40s) who have never fished and don’t know the joys of landing their first fish. It doesn’t matter the size of a fish, reeling in your first one is a rush.
According to the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, although women are giving fishing a try, they are not sticking with it. Reasons women do not continue with fishing once introduced could include they don’t see other women fishing and therefore can’t see themselves fishing, it’s a male-dominated activity with gear geared toward men (although it is getting better), and they are looking for other ways to spend times with kids/family.
My question to you, do you fish? Do you want to but don’t know how? Here are my ideas on Southwest Florida fishing resources for female anglers if you do not have someone to show you hook, line and sinker.
Find a Fishing Club
I recently attended a monthly meeting of the Englewood Fishing Club where seasoned and new anglers meet to learn fishing techniques and where to find the fish. They learn from each other and an invited guest, typically a local fishing guide. This club, like others, plans outings near and far, and oftentimes, other anglers are looking for others to fish with. No matter where you live in Southwest Florida, I’m confident there’s a fishing club near you.
Learn to Be Fly
West Wall Outfitters is a fly shop and kayak shop in Port Charlotte offering monthly fly casting sessions (first Saturdays of the month) and fly tying clinics (fourth Saturday of the month), free! The shop is located next to a canal making it perfect to practice your cast and the tying clinics is a perfect location to learn what’s biting, meet new people, and learn a new practical art.
Check Out SheFishes2.com
I’ve mentioned her before on this blog but if you are not already, you need to subscribe to SheFishes2.com written by Debbie Hanson. She is passionate about empowering female anglers, both seasoned and beginners, and she offers useful advice for female and male anglers. Occasionally, Debbie offers workshops at Bass Pro in Fort Myers. She is also a Southwest Florida freshwater fishing guide. Be sure to follow her on Facebook.com/SheFishes2!
FWC’s Women Saltwater Fishing Clinics
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers one-day, shore-based, free saltwater fishing clinics specifically for women. Although they are typically not offered in Southwest Florida, they are a worthwhile road trip to Apollo Beach, Cedar Key, Crystal River, Jacksonville, Ocala, Panama City, Pensacola, Sebastian and St. George Island. These clinics teach attendees skills (knot-tying, cast netting, etc.) for fishing from shore along with how to be an ethical steward. Check out the FWC website to learn when and where the next clinic will be offered.
The No Yelling School of Fishing
I’ve blogged about Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! before and it’s a wonderful introduction for women to learn how to fish. Not only will participants learn about fishing techniques (cast netting, how to bait a hook, knot tying, and how to dock a boat), there’s an opportunity to put your knowledge to work with a fishing trip. Betty Bauman is the founder of LLGF and she brings together the best fishing captains around who have the know-how and patience to teach novices and seasoned anglers. Workshops are offered throughout the state, including Southwest Florida. Check out the Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! website for dates and locations.
Suncoast Lady Anglers Association
Connect with like-minded female anglers on Facebook with this relatively new group called the Suncoast Lady Anglers Association. Here, lady anglers of Florida share their passion for fishing and support one another. You’ll need to request to join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/suncoastladyanglers.
Now go wet a line and fish on!