Women anglers tackle rivalry with delicacy

2012-06-09 00:00

WOMEN and fish traditionally have very little to do with one another outside of the frozen foods aisle at the local grocery store.

I went to a fishing store a few weeks ago to buy some tackle for an upcoming tournament in Swaziland. A salesman approached my fishing partner and I to determine what it was that we were looking for.

He immediately addressed my partner, who happens to be male. I thought nothing of it and carried on prowling the aisles in search of some two centimeter hornets.

Later, as I was swiping my card at the till, a man descending the stairs into the store glanced our way and what he saw gave him pause. “That’s the first time that I have seen a woman paying for her boyfriend’s fishing tackle. She’s definitely a keeper!” he beamed. We all laughed, but I failed to correct him.

There is no doubt that fishing is a male-dominated sport and female anglers are often bundled into development teams or overlooked entirely. True, there are not that many competitive female anglers, but there are some and their performances are often in league with their male counterparts.

Legends like Christie Thomas are testament to the fact that men and women can compete on an even footing and, unlike sports like rugby, you do not need bulging muscles or testosterone to catch a fish. In fact, some species are more easily duped by patience and a light touch.

At an average of three centimetres, mosquito fish are considered to be the greatest competition leveller in species angling. These small fish, commonly referred to as guppies, require anglers to apply the stealth of a feral cat. Hours spent crouching in the mud with one arm extended in a half-hearted salute to Superman may not be every lady’s cappuccino, but landing this miniscule backbreaker has been known to make even grown men whoop with joy.

Fish, like many women, spook easily. Thus it is essential to walk delicately, think carefully before moving and keep as quiet as possible when angling for many species, not just the small varieties.

The elegant movements that make women the fairer sex can be an added advantage when it comes to sneaking up on their prey. As long as women are willing to substitute mascara for sunscreen, their delicate touch can make an impact on this sport.

Women approach angling somewhat differently to men. Instead of describing their setup as a watermelon fluke on a mojo rig, a woman is more likely to say that they caught their keeper on a sparkly pink worm. When asked why they chose that exact rig, well the answer is obvious: “Because it’s pretty, of course!”

Women aren’t likely to use the highly refined and technical methods honed by men over decades. Light coloured tackle for bright days and dark colours for overcast conditions; it doesn’t make much difference to us. This lack of technical prowess doesn’t guarantee that we won’t get the same results.

A woman willing to pick up a rod instead of a shopping basket may be pleasantly surprised. When she is done, her husband might have to don the apron because she may not be the only keeper coming home.

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