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Fishing is for Girls!

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Fishing is for Girls!

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When nine year old Kiera Lucas isn’t helping her grandfather sort leeches, she’s catching Walleye in Lake of the Woods

Women of all ages are enjoying Fishing

If you've not taken your wife, daughter, granddaughter or sister fishing, do yourself a favour this summer and take them to a fish-filled lake or river in Northern Ontario.

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Over the course of a fishing season, I get the chance to share the boat with a lot of family, friends, business contacts and acquaintances.  I should say, soon-to-be-friends, because even when a total stranger steps into the boat, usually within minutes, it is like we've been buddies for life. 

Fishing has a way of doing that to you.

And while 15 or 20 years ago, most of the anglers were men, these days the numbers are evenly split between the sexes.  As a matter of fact, many times the gals outnumber the guys. 

Just as it did this past week, when several friends from Manitoba made their annual fishing pilgrimage to Northwestern Ontario's Sunset Country. Of the seven anglers, three were men and four were women, including teenagers Madison Tait and Samantha Watt.

But, as I mentioned, it wasn't always the case.

Indeed, I'll never forget spending some quality time out on the water with legendary bass angler Penny Berryman, a dear friend who was inducted posthumously into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2014.

Penny grew up in Arkansas where she spent every weekend fishing with her father.

"We’d go to a different lake or river and set out our trotlines for catfish," Penny told me. "Dad made fishing fun for me and he believed there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I grew up in the wonderful world of fishing and it never crossed my mind that it was a guy thing. In fact, I always thought fishing was a girl thing.”

You’d better not tell Madison Tait, shown here with a beautiful smallmouth bass that she caught in Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country, that fishing is only a “guy thing.

Now, are you ready for this.  When Penny tried to join B.A.S.S. back in the 1970s, the organization wouldn't let her.

“It was precious,” she chuckles, “they wouldn’t even let us read their magazine.  But my dad bought me a subscription as a birthday present and I could hardly wait each month for the magazine to be delivered to the house.”

“B.A.S.S. was the last male bastion to be cracked,” she laughs. “It took a court injunction to force them to allow women to join.  Even at the special 25th Anniversary tournament, they were concerned that the woman pros would show up in teeny weenie bikinis and make passes at the men.”

I was reminded of Penny's recollections as I watched Maddie and Sam wielding spinning rods last week and landing walleyes.  It reminded me of Prime Minister's Trudeau's comment, when asked why he felt it was important to balance his cabinet, he replied simply, "Because it's 2016."

Indeed, we've come a long way.

My nine-year-old granddaughter, Kiera, thinks there is nothing more fun than to dip her hands, wrist deep into hundreds of squirming leeches as I sort them after they have been trapped.  Madison Tait has been cleaning ducks and geese since she was a little freckle-faced girl. And just this past spring, Samantha Watt shot a huge black bear – with a bow and arrow, no less.

Samantha Watt, shown here with a gorgeous black bear that she harvested with a bow, is among a growing legion of women who are as much at home in the field as they are out on the water.

Gotta confess, too, that while no official numbers were kept last week, at the end of the day, I am certain that the men were soundly, if not politely defeated by the women.  

I think part of the reason – and I have no scientific basis for this – is because women have a superior sense of touch. They can feel a light biting walleye, bass, black crappie or yellow perch much sooner and better than men. And they have supremely more patience.

I remember Penny Berryman telling me the same thing.

"Women beat men in head-to-head saltwater fishing events all the time," Penny said.  "Women patiently watch and learn, whereas guys just automatically think they can do it.”

Wow, is that ever true.

Women anglers have a superior sense of touch and can often feel a light biting, like this beauty Walleye that Michelle Trudeau caught in Lake of the Woods, much better than men.

A couple of years ago, good friend and Alumacraft Pro Staffer Michelle Trudeau joined buddy Bob Izumi and me out on Lake of the Woods as we fished for walleyes using the drop shot method. It was the first time that Michelle had ever drop-shotted for walleyes, while Bob and I were, well, self-proclaimed "experts."

Michelle watched carefully as I rigged up her line and asked detailed questions about the intricacies of the tactic. By night's end, she had handed Bob and me our combined rear-ends on a platter. 

How cool is that?

So, if you're a husband, father, grandfather or brother and you've never taken your wife, daughter, granddaughter or sister fishing, do yourself a favour this summer and take them to a fish-filled lake or river in Northern Ontario.

The opportunities are unlimited – from fully guided day trips to fly-in outpost camps to luxury five-star resorts.

And if you do, I promise you two things: the first is that you'll have so much fun you'll discover that it was a wickedly selfish act. The second is what Penny Berryman learned long ago... fishing is a girl thing.

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