Fishing or "angling" has been traditionally dominated by men (hence the name "fisherman"). However, these days more and more women have become interested in the sport. In this article, our own expert fisherwoman, Corey Hunt, interviews angling expert Anastasia Patterson, on how she broke into the fishing community, plus tips on how women (or any beginner) can get started.
For the last several years I’ve had the opportunity to meet some exceptional women in the angling community. These women’s fishing experiences are as diverse as their backgrounds.
Some attribute their love for fishing to their dads’ willingness to let them tag along as a kid. Others describe their need to fish as a deep seated emotion, like a passion for water from their soul.
One thing all of these women have in common is their advice for people looking to get into the sport of angling, “it’s never too late.”
One of these extraordinary women is Anastasia Patterson.
Anastasia grew up fishing and hunting in Sumter, SC with her father. Her love for fishing began at an early age and was viewed as “just as important as reading and writing” in her household. She had the opportunity to attend the Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament in 2005 and was blown away, but couldn’t help wondering why there weren’t more females in the sport.
She recalls a defining moment in her life during a high school sporting event. Anastasia and her father were chatting in the stands about starting a high school fishing team, when a gentleman behind them leaned forward to say “no woman will ever make it in the fishing and hunting industry.”
Anastasia took these words to heart, but in college she decided to defy this man’s warning and helped start the Presbyterian College Fishing team. After graduating, she followed her dream of fishing professionally and is currently competing in tournaments and has finished in the top 10 in the FLW TH Marine BFL in South Carolina.
When I asked Anastasia what advice she would give to women looking to get into the sport of fishing, she said “learn the basics and you can take those skills to any fishery.”
For most states, the basics of bass fishing include a fishing rod and reel, hooks, lures or live bait and a valid fishing license.
Visit any outdoor store and the beginner can be quickly overwhelmed with the amount of choices and combinations available today.
Luckily, there are online resources such as takemefishing.org that target beginner fishermen and women.
The website includes local resources such as finding a fishing place near you and articles on learning how to fish and cast that can take the beginner searching for knowledge and get them fishing on the water that day.
Many anglers attribute their love for fishing from a family member or mentor that took them under their wing and taught them the basics. For Anastasia, it was her father that fostered her love for fishing.
But mentors can be found outside of family members as well. In many states across the country, local women gather for a weekend called Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) where women over 18 can take hands-on classes to gain outdoor skills such as angling, target shooting, and outdoor cooking, to name a few.
No experience is necessary and women of all ages and fitness levels are encouraged to participate.
The classes are taught by experts in each field and the organization encourages “a supportive environment conducive to learning, making friends and having fun.” For more information about classes offered or to register, visit UWSP.edu/bow and click on the state of interest.
Sometimes the best lessons in life are learned out of adversity and fishing is no different.
Anastasia’s last piece of advice for a beginner fisherman or woman is “never give up.” Her love for fishing is apparent after only a moment of speaking with her. She said “it doesn’t matter how old you are...it’s (fishing) always something to come back to.”
Even though she had to endure opposition due to gender, her community and family have encouraged her to keep fishing.
Angling can be difficult to navigate for a novice, but through online resources and local mentorship, even the most novice individual can enjoy this sport.
Finally, heed Anastasia Patterson’s advice not to give up, and to be successful you have to know the basics. Fishing can be a rewarding hobby, and there is always something new to learn for the novice and expert alike. Be persistent, and good luck out there!