Sunday, April 20, 2008
Women Anglers Among Very Best Fishermen
It may come as a surprise to at least some people to learn that women are among the very best anglers at Bow Narrows Camp. (This fact won't come as a surprise to the women, however.)
We get a lot of couples at camp and the female half of these have proven over the years that they are more than capable of catching and landing Red Lake's great sportfish: walleyes, northern pike and lake trout.
It's encouraging to see many fathers bringing their daughters as well as their sons fishing these days too. Fishing is just like any other sport: the earlier you start the better you get at it.
It's been our observation that experienced women anglers, such as the lady above, are as expert at it as are men.
Curiously though, novice female anglers seem to actually be better at fishing than novice male anglers. Articles in fishing magazines have speculated that fish are attracted to scent or even hormones left on lures by women but this seems highly unlikely since in many cases they didn't even touch the lure. It was their husbands or boyfriends who attached it. We think a more rational explanation is that women, as a group, have a couple of traits that are conducive to catching fish: they are more patient and intuitive.
An example of patience: When women or girls find a lure that catches fish, they tend to stick with that very same lure the entire week! They become expert at using that one lure. They know how to fish it in shallow water and in deep water, the best way to avoid weeds and snags, how hard to set the hook, how to cast it accurately, etc. Men and boys will tend to change their lures frequently and so don't get as good at fishing with any one of them. Again, we're talking about new anglers here or at least new to our kind of fishing. Experienced anglers, be they men or women, become experts at fishing with lots of lures.
Another example of women's patience paying off is that they tend to fish an area more thoroughly. For instance, when returning to a spot where they caught a lot of fish the previous day and then not immediately repeating that success, men are more apt to quickly want to try another location where women invariably want to stay and give the area another chance. And as often happens, the fish start to bite again.
Intuition: what makes a person cast to a spot that has no apparent structure only to discover that there are hidden boulders or logs or underwater weeds there that are harboring fish? I don't know but I do know that women are more likely to do this than are men.
Men approach fishing scientifically, X + Y = fish, where women seem to rely on their feelings: "Let's try that spot, I've got a good feeling about it."
Finally, there is such a thing as trying too hard at fishing and this problem is exclusively the domain of men. The very best anglers, men and women alike, are those who are relaxed and easy going and who are going to have a good time no matter what happens. They just enjoy the experience of fishing and the catching of fish is a bonus.
Before I finish this I must tell an actual story of a couple who came to camp for many years back in the days when it was legal to keep lake trout. (All lake trout must now be live released on Red Lake.)
Charlie and Dee were trolling for lake trout in the spring when the fish were quite shallow.
Charlie approached trout fishing with a scientific intensity. He checked water temperatures frequently so he would know at what depth the preferred 46 F water was located. Every hour or so he would lower a white cup in the water until it disappeared from sight. Reason told him that the light reflecting from the cup had travelled from the surface to the cup and then back up to his eye. This meant that the actual light penetration was double the depth of the cup. So he would calculate how much weight to place on his line so that his lure would be in the visible light range while at the same time in the preferred water temperature. While trolling he also continually pumped his rod so his lure would behave erratically, sending a "wounded minnow" message to the fish.
Dee, on the other hand, just sat cross-legged in the bow of the boat, holding her fishing rod with her legs while reading a book or looking at birds with her binoculars.
Charlie got a strike! He spat his cigar into the lake and announced, "Fish On!" But in seconds the fish got off. Charlie cursed and went back to pumping his rod again.
A minute later Dee hooked a fish and managed to bring it all the way to the boat. It was a nice trout, about 10 pounds, and they kept it.
Later at camp, Charlie asked our staff fish cleaner to cut open the trout's stomach to determine what it had been eating so he would know how best to "match the hatch."
Inside was his cigar!
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