Les Palmer: Advice for women who would fish

Author’s note: The Clarion first published this column April 9, 2004. It’s been almost 10 years, and boys still outnumber girls, I notice. — LP

This column is for women. Specifically, it’s for women who have been thinking about taking up fishing, but haven’t done so for one reason or another. If you’re a man, well, you’ve been warned.

Ladies, you buy only about one in three of the sport fishing licenses sold in Alaska. Why don’t more of you fish?

During a fishing class sponsored by the Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing Association of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the participants were asked for the top ten reasons why more women don’t fish. Their reasons, followed by my comments, are listed below:

1. Husband doesn’t have patience to teach fishing skills

Husbands aren’t very good at teaching wives things like driving and fishing. Figure out what kind of fishing might interest you, then find an experienced guide to teach you how to fish.

2. Tackle shops don’t respect lady customers

Bunk. Tackle shop owners and employees disrespect men and women on an equal basis. Don’t be intimidated. Boost your confidence by doing a little research on the Internet before you go shopping.

3. Don’t have knowledgeable fishing buddies

Then become buddies with some knowledgeable people. Or become knowledgeable yourself, and educate your buddies.

4. Guys won’t take me fishing

And why won’t the guys take you? You didn’t help get the boat and motor ready to go, or help fix the trailer lights. You didn’t rig the tackle. You didn’t get up in time to fix the lunch. You say you’re cold. You say you’re bored. You don’t want to touch those slimy, bloody fish. You want to go home. It’s no wonder guys won’t take you fishing. Ask what you can do to help. If guys won’t take you, find women who want to go.

5. Get stuck driving the boat while everyone else fishes

Maybe you “get stuck” with the driving because that’s the only thing you know how to do. While you’re driving, keep your eyes and ears open, and ask questions. Learn how to tie knots, handle the gear, fight fish, net fish and fillet fish. Having skills and being helpful will get you invited again.

6. Too early in the morning

“Early in the morning” is generally recognized as a good time to be fishing. But you want to sleep in, read the Sunday comics, eat a leisurely breakfast and then get dressed, put on your makeup and mess with your hair. By the time you’re ready, most guys would be on their way back home.

7. Don’t have a boat

Nice try, but most guys don’t have boats, either. Besides, you don’t need a boat for most kinds of fishing. If you need a boat, rent or charter one. Make friends with someone who has one. Save your money and buy one. If you really want a boat, you’ll find a way.

8. Seasickness

This might keep you off the ocean, but it’s no excuse for not fishing in streams, lakes or other protected waters. Besides, most people can fend off seasickness with nonprescription drugs. If that doesn’t work, prescription drugs will.

9. Nobody to learn from

Learning how to fish has never been easier. The Community Schools program holds fishing classes during the winter. In summer, you can attend the Kenai Fishing Academy, at Kenai Peninsula College. You can learn how to fish at a Department of Fish and Game “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” workshop. Books, videos, magazines, the Internet and TV shows cover every aspect of fishing. Read Pudge Kleinkauf’s book, “Fly Fishing Women Explore Alaska.” Take one of her classes, or blow a couple of PFD checks on one of her all-women fishing trips.

10. No baby-sitter for the kids

I know this may seem like a weird concept, but take your kids with you. Fishing is a great family activity. People of all ages can fish. In the process of going fishing, kids learn to plan, organize, cooperate and communicate. On the water, they learn new skills and their self-confidence improves. In spite of themselves, they have fun. And you’ll have fun, too.

You may not know or appreciate it, ladies, but you live in one of the best places on earth to go fishing. Enough excuses.

Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.


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