A renaissance in competitive angling… Women reeling in, their place in history

By Lynda Rosencrans

There isn’t much text written throughout history about women participating in competitive sports, likely due the fact that competitive sports are generally thought to be a man’s world – and angling, like other sports were – and continue to be – mostly dominated by men. However, there have been a few books written to contradict this way of thinking that easily go back more than four centuries. The most famous of these books is a 15th century book entitled “Treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle,” which is believed to be the first book ever written on angling, where a woman is credited as being the author.

Many women, as far back as the Victorian era, took to a rod and reel as a means of becoming closer with nature, where they could exercise some level of authority and self-control without losing the respectable demeanor which women were expected to maintain. As for women taking to the open water and captaining a vessel, history records Queen Teuta of Illyria as captain of her own pirate ship in 231 BC.

So why haven’t we heard more about all these prominent women who carved their own paths throughout history? My research has led me towards a two-fold supposition; first, their success stories just never make it into the history books and were omitted or overshadowed by the accomplishments of the men of the era, and second – and as equally as important, women have been conditioned to be the ‘good wife / good girl‘ and not stir the waters.

Nevertheless, ease your minds ladies! This is not the case anymore. Women in competitive angling are carving out their own way in the sport right alongside of their male counter-parts, whether it be solo or as co-anglers. There are several bass angling organizations dedicated to women anglers and at the top of that list is the Ladies Bass Anglers Association. Today we see women continuing to make their mark not only in the angling arena but also in the professional circuit. In 1991 Vojai Reed ripped open the gender barrier by competing in the B.A.S.S. Missouri Invitational and in 2009 Kim Bayne-Moore became the first woman to compete in the Bass Masters Classic.

Here in Northeast Pennsylvania there are many opportunities for women anglers whether it be bank fishing or competitive fishing and the health benefits of the sport are numerous and extremely beneficial. As a health benefit, fishing can provide a well-rounded cardio workout, stress reduction, relaxation, it promotes clarity and focus, helps with memory, and allows the angler to enjoy nature and what nature has to offer. As an added bonus, in a time where everyone is in a rush, worried about computers and cell phones, stressed over finances, and trying to balance too many tasks in a single day, some quality time out on the water can provide a much-needed mental getaway. You might even consider, sharing your fishing experiences with your husband, boyfriend, or significant other as coming together in an activity that you can share can serve to strengthen the relationship and open communications that may have been lost. My husband and I are a fishing team and he’s come to really enjoy the fact that we can sit and talk about fishing poles, fishing reels, various baits, types of boats, types of boat motors, fishing conditions, types of fish and fishing locations – and the alone-time we share on the water is priceless and memorable. In many ways it’s like taking a mini vacation without all the expense!

What’s more, fear not ladies, if you’re not as limber and able to move around as you used to be; fishing has benefits here as well. As a disabled veteran of the Air Force, my mobility after many surgeries is extremely limited. We have discovered ways to successfully work around my limitations and you can to. We put together a tackle bag for me which I put on the back of the boat where I will sit and do my fishing. This allows me to enjoy the sport without putting any undue stress on my limitations. There are even organizations dedicated to helping disabled veterans get out and enjoy a day of fishing on the water and when you want to stretch those competitive muscles, many local fishing clubs have regular tournament and many will occasionally host a larger tournament that will benefit a charitable organization such as, fishing for wishes – there is even a local fishing club for deaf anglers -and- for you ladies who would like to give kayak fishing a try, there is the Pennsylvania Kayak Fishing Association.

So you see, there are many opportunities available for women in sport fishing, opportunities which have awakened into a new renaissance. As women this is a door we no longer have to secretly open-we can grab our rod and reel and proudly walk down to the bank or out onto the boat. We can reap the benefits of communing with nature while sharing the love of the sport with a companion [or by ourselves] and fishing is a lot friendlier to aching joints than an aerobic workout or a day at the gym.

If you are new to fishing make sure you have a current fishing license and I would strongly suggest taking the Fish and Boat Commission’s [FBC] boater safety course which is available online at the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s [FBC] website: http://fishandboat.com/boatcourses.htm. Also remember, it is important to keep up to date on all the fishing and boating regulations, information which can also be found on the FBC website.

Also remember that as angler you are also a conservation ambassador! It is important that we remain vigilant in protecting this wonderful natural resource – which includes helping to keep it clean, so as to preserve it for future generations.

I hope this brief introduction into the world of Women Angler’s has been informative and if you haven’t already, you’ll give it a try!

See you on the water!!

For more information please contact Lynda Rosencrans at: TeamRosencrans [at] comcast [dot] net