Real Women Do Fish (and Why More Should)

The First Catch

If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the tug on the line.

I was ten years old and it was my first fish—a Northern Pike pulled out of Bear Lake near Sudbury, Ontario. It changed my life.

Young Sherri holding a pike in front of her parent’s camp on Bear Lake

I think back on how it happened. It started with the discovery of a rod and reel in the shed at the back of our family’s newly purchased cottage (called “camp” in the North). I then spotted the Daredevil lure dangling from the line, calling my name.

The decision that day to grab the rod and head to the water has led to a lifetime of treasured memories. Over the decades I’ve caught Trout in New Zealand, Sailfish in Mexico, Peacock Bass in Panama, Atlantic Salmon in the Miramichi, Barracuda in Florida and, of course, many amazing fish right here in beautiful Ontario.

Sherri fishing for Barracuda in Florida.

A Sport That Gives Back

I think for many of us, our eyes will light up when asked about the first fish or the most exciting catch. It is a sport that gives back in so many ways, whether it is the potential for time in solitude, bonding with a friend or family member, or just the chance to appreciate nature. It inspired me to begin a lifelong quest to encourage others to try the sport.

A number of years ago, I helped start a free program for children that allowed them to experience the joy of catching a fish while teaching them proper fishing etiquette and nurturing an appreciation and respect for the outdoors. Since then, thousands of youngsters have benefitted from the program.

In other instances, I offered to take a daughter or son of a friend out for a day of fishing if no one else in the household fished. My hope, and it often worked, was the child would develop an ongoing interest in fishing.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is getting other adult women interested. Despite more and more females taking up the sport, I still get odd looks from both men and women when I talk about fishing.

Real Women Do Fish

On girl getaway weekends to cottages, I was always on my own out on the water with rod and reel. I think some of them secretly would have liked to join me, but society, in many ways, still looks at it as a male sport and women as not feminine if they participate.

Hogwash! I have no problem putting on a ball cap, taking a hook out of a fish or digging around for worms and then heading home, showering, and dressing up for a cocktail party. Some of us may recall the book “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” satirizing stereotypes. Well, it’s time to dispel the same notion when it comes to fishing: “Real Women DO Fish.”

Why should more women fish? Well, let’s get started!

Fishing Is A No-Brainer

First, this isn’t about muscle. We can do it just as well. In fact, what’s so great about fishing is anyone can do it regardless of their size or physical ability. It is likely one of the most accessible sports you can enjoy.

Everyone needs time to relax and escape, especially now. For anyone feeling cooped up these last few months, what better escape is there than being out on the water with a gentle breeze, birds singing, and the sound of waves lapping up on shore? A spa will charge you at least $100 for that same soothing experience, so I think fishing is a no-brainer option.

As we all struggle to find things to do during the pandemic, fishing will always be one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors while social distancing. Maybe the fish don’t agree.

As the owner of my own consulting business, I tend to be on the competitive side. So, for all those successful ladies out there, this is another great way to feed that competitive spirit. My first childhood friend was a guy named Rob. We became friends due to our mutual passion for fishing. Our families’ camps were on the same lake, and we loved to head out in the boat together to see who could catch the most fish. Forty-five years later, we are still friends despite living in different provinces.

Sherri and childhood friend Rob relaxing after an afternoon of fishing

That brings me to one of the highlights of fishing, regardless of who you are: the chance to bond, build friendships and create special memories.

Fishing Memories

I had little in common with my dad, but fishing became the one time when it was just the two of us, and we would talk about things that just never came up at the dinner table. In fact, I don’t think he cared much for fishing, but it became our “thing”, and I will never forget those conversations.

As someone who has travelled extensively and writes a travel column, there is no doubt that the highlight of any trip for me is when I can include a fishing experience.

This past January, I travelled to Panama and enjoyed the wonderful people, the breathtaking scenery, and the chance to fish in the Panama Canal. Here we were in a tiny fishing boat, navigated by a young local guide, slowly motoring past gigantic ships while I am wondering if the wake from these boats will capsize us. The Canal can accommodate boats up to 106 feet wide. (The Titanic was 92 feet wide.) Somehow, we managed to get through and veer off to an adjacent lake, which, to my immense pleasure was filled with Peacock Bass. The adventurous ride, the beautiful scenery and the great fishing made that day the highlight of our trip.

Sherri on her travels in Panama enjoying the breathtaking scenery.

Share the Joy

Clearly, there are so many reasons to fish. But perhaps the best part about fishing is the chance to give someone else the opportunity to share in some amazing experiences, whether it’s a spouse, daughter, son, mother, father, or friend.

To my fishing colleagues, next time you are heading out with rod and reel, bring someone new to share in the joy of the sport.

To all the women who may have never considered fishing, take a chance and just do it.

8 Replies to “Real Women Do Fish (and Why More Should)”

  1. Political correctness aside, one special fisherwoman as I call her, has always held a special place in my angling adventures. My wife Sharon’s interest for the great outdoors flourished in her early teens. One exciting childhood adventure has always stood out in her mind.

    It all began up in Elliot Lake Ontario circa 1958. The shopping plaza in that town had just opened it’s doors and was holding a draw for a brand new 16 ft. Cedar Boat, Motor and Trailer. As luck would have it, her sister Helen was fortunate enough to win the boat package. You can well imagine the fuss. Interviews, pictures in the local paper, notoriety, hoopla and so o

    A few days later, he decided to take Sharon and Helen out fishing. Knowing how fortunate Helen was previously, Sharon’s Dad unknown to her, had purchased her very first fishing rod. It wasn’t expensive by any means, but it was intended to offset any sense of favoritism.

    Unfortunately, that first fishing trip did not work out as planned. Dad being an experienced angler himself and the two girls, neophytes to the angling experience in their own right, made for an awkward situation. As Helen sat quietly in the boat, out came the rod to Sharon’s surprise. Sharon’s Dad baited her line and handed her the rod, assuming she knew what to do.
    Sharon took her new rod and reel and made her first cast. Sadly, it slipped out of her hands, dropped into the water beside the boat about 6 ft. down. In a panic Sharon said, “Let me reach down and get it”. “No”, her father replied. Sharon persisted but still her Dad refused to comply, not wanting his daughter to jeopardize her safety. He turned the boat around and they quickly departed.

    Before they headed home Sharon’s father took the boat out for a run. Proud Papa hit the throttle at full speed and flew across the lake. Circling back to where his family was watching on the dock, they could see a huge smile across his face.

    Sometime later, on a small island as that Cedar Lined Boat rested on the shore, Sharon recalls her Father frying a trout in a cast iron pan over their camp fire. This was her first taste of fresh fish. Sadly, Sharon does not remember going out again. Reason being, since her father was a Pastor and part-time truck driver, there was not much time for pleasure boating in the late 1950’s.
    It wasn’t until later in 1969, after Sharon’s Father passed away that she had her next fishing experience. It was up at Lake Ayrd just north of Plevna Ontario at the family cottage. Fishing off the dock with some kind of yellow lure and a borrowed fishing rod, Sharon cast her line into the weeds quite some distance over a tethered boat. The surface exploded almost as soon as the lure hit the water. The fish put up a ferocious fight that lasted some ten minutes or more.

    Reeling in her quarry, she dragged it up into a boat and then onto the dock. Unhooking the 24 inch Pike and for the first time in her life, Sharon cleaned it right there on a rock. She then took her prize back the cottage where the women cooked it up for supper. They all said it was so delicious.

    Later that evening, the men came home empty handed after fishing out on the lake, all day. They were surprised and somewhat distressed to hear the rest of the family had Pike for supper. It sure made Sharon’s day. She has loved fishing ever since.

    Fortunately for me I married this girl and for the past 27 years or more, we have been fishing buddies. Our experiences have taken us all over Ontario and into Quebec.

    Oh, one other thing I should mention. Sharon’s Father had an nick-name for his oldest daughter, Sharon. He would called her Sharie. I would say, that is quite a coincidence.

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