Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

July 5th, 1999

"Come On Fishergirls!"

No, that's not my comment, it's the tag on an article in the Summer 1999 Trout magazine. The article, written by the magazine's editor Christine Arena, seems to say she had a perfectly wonderful time fishing striped bass, one morning last month. In fact it was so engrossing she didn't realize until the second hour she was the only woman there.

Quoting Christine, "While accustomed to fishing in communities of men, I'm still disappointed when I don't see other women anglers. There are several reasons for this, from my belief that women should have a stronger presence in the fishing industry, to my wish for more women conservationists. And on a lighter note, I'm tired of being watched by the guys. I'm sure they're simply curious or, as was the case with the somewhat stoical fishermen on the Potomac, they're just looking up to see where the laughter's coming from. But with more women fishing, I know each of us will be less of a spectacle."

Christine goes on to make a pitch for the International Women Fly Fishers and their annual festival in Stratton Vermont this coming October.

I find Christine's comments interesting from the standpoint I don't share her disappointment. The recent FAOL Fish-In did not have "equal" numbers of male and female anglers, but we did have several - who fished on their own or with their husbands. I sure didn't notice if we drew a crowd, and don't think anyone in attendance found it noteworthy that women were there and fished. Certainly not a "spectacle."

There is part of a paragraph in Christine's editorial however that puzzle's me. I'll quote it in full, "We're making some progress. A recent survey by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association says that 25 percent of the nation's active fly anglers are women. And a new organization, the International Women Fly Fisher (IWFF), is now helping women anglers of all skill levels to network, exchange information, and raise our profile in the industry and the media."

Raise our profile? What is that about?

Following paragraph, "It's a forum to interact with like-minded women, advocate for better fishing products, and support the participation of women as guides, pro-staff advisors and instructors," . . . .

Excuse me? What do you mean advocate for better fishing products? Would you mind being a little specific here? Support the participation of women as guides? Most states have license procedures for guides. There is no "female guide license" or "male guide license." The prospective guide has to be able to do the job. And prove it. Support how? Only hire female guides? Get real.

Pro staff advisors? It is my understanding that Pro-Staff members are chosen by the level of expertise, ability to communicate with the public, and their visibility. Is the IWFF suggesting manufactures hire women to pick the pro staff? I'm not at all clear what the IWFF thinks their mission is.

I am not against folks coming together to inspire and learn from each other. We just had a wonderful experience doing exactly that in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Big time.

The interesting thing is no one had an agenda. There was no mission statement. Just a bunch of like minded folks who spent some time together, tied some flies, cooked some food, did some fishing and shared the best of what fly fishing has to offer.

Too bad you missed it Christine. ~ LadyFisher

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