In recent weeks I’ve spoken with many current as well as prospective female anglers. More than in all the years I’ve worked to encourage people to give fishing a go, I think we’ve reached a bit of a breakthrough. I reckon angling is attracting more females than ever, and not only that, once they’ve tried fishing they’re coming back for more…
For example, this year the Participation Team at the Angling Trust extended our Environment Agency fishing licence funded “Spring Into Fishing” campaign so that for the whole of spring there’ve been even more beginner events happening all across England.
I was faced with a bit of a problem though… I knew that such a warm, welcoming event would be bound to attract loads of people. Despite capping pre-registration to fifty, Allan Dye the clubs Chairman told me that in the end 59 mums, dads, girls, boys and grandparents received at least half an hour of one to one, hands on coaching before being welcomed to carry on and put their new found fishing skills into practice. Allan told me: “We had a hugely rewarding, enjoyable day, caught loads of different fish and even bagged our first suntan of the year!”
A strong junior section, and a third of them are girls!
It’s this kind of busy “fishing taster session” that over the last couple of years has helped the club build up a strong junior section. They now have to run two coaching sessions a week just to keep up with demand! There are over twenty regulars and, best of all, a third of them are girls!
Gabby is one of the club’s new generation of super-keen anglers. She helped Ramsbottom Angling Association organise its Spring Into Fishing event. On the day she was always busy: helping the coaches, giving participants her top-tips, explaining the best bait, how to spot a bite, unhook a fish safely and return them.
That’s ‘Local Knowledge’, see.
…er, but she’s 11! Amazing.
Although an experienced coarse angler, Gabby made the most of the free fly-casting sessions run by Tony Quinn and GAIA. Fair play to her.
Gabby’s Dad Dave explained why: “She’s totally in love with fishing and dead-keen to share all she’s learned with her friends and teammates. But the thing is, she’s still hungry to know more. Just like the fly casting today – she took every chance to have a go whenever Tony and his casting coaches had a spare space!”
Whole families come along to enjoy the fishing and other activities
I asked club secretary Neil Wright for his thoughts about the club’s young female anglers like Gabby. Neil enthused: “It’s fantastic, we see whole families come along with mums and daughters enjoying all the activities just the same as the boys. It’s like the diverse attendance today – it really proves fishing offers something for everyone.”
Managing Director of Bait-Tech Hayley Goldsmith is helping introduce a new generation of females to fishing
As well as all the newcomer mums and daughters at Spring Into Fishing I was really pleased to catch up with Managing Director of Bait-Tech, Hayley Goldsmith who was there supporting the event. Hayley is determined that angling is introduced to a new generation of female anglers. She told me how much she’d been looking forward to coming and added “What an amazing day and a brilliant atmosphere, with such enthusiasm from all the coaches and volunteers. You can see how angling is infectious. As soon as one person catches a fish the whole family wants a go, and next thing everyone ends up fishing, all together.”
This is so true – even when there’s an experienced angler in the family it can take a day like this for parents, partners, sons or granddaughters to really “get” fishing.
Family Fishing to pass on the magic of angling
To be there, by the water, trying and sometimes catching a fish is the best way to pass on the magic of angling to another person. When that person is a family member it’s even better. But when it’s a female family member who previously wouldn’t have dreamed of getting involved, then that’s a breakthrough moment, and one we need more of to boost female involvement in all branches of angling – from grassroots family days out by the local river, pond or canal (…try a “fishing picnic” this summer!), right up to elite participation at say, Ladies Carp Team England level.
Environment Agency funding funding makes all of this possible
Three years of Environment Agency funding for clubs and fisheries to run Spring Into Fishing events has allowed a model of all-inclusive angling events to develop.
In this case a fantastic club working with a superb fishery filled the day with diverse types and styles of fishing and welcomed all with a warm smile. With about half the population being female it’s no wonder that already a third of Ramsbottom’s junior section is made up of girls and steadily moving towards equality.
Calling all females! Fishing is for you too…
What can you do? Well, first off, please, bring a female family member along to a Get Fishing event this summer or encourage your club or fishery to get in touch with me about running an all-inclusive session for families. Let’s Get Females Fishing!
Angling Development Officer (North), Angling Trust
07854 240 368
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