Women aren't new to fishing. Millions of women have been making waves on banks and in boats for years—and the number is growing. According to an industry study from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), women made up 36% of all anglers in 2021. At 19.7 million strong, participation numbers grew by about 10% from 'pre-pandemic' numbers in 2019. So, what is the big draw to fishing, and why should women cast a line? Here are four reasons why women need to fish more.
1. Fishing is good for your overall health and wellness.
Life is busy. Personally, as a mom of two littles, if I have even a moment alone, it's a win. But research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that if you make the time for yourself, you invest in your health. Nature heals; there isn't anything quite like a quiet morning on the water. Watching mist lift off a lake as the sun comes up while reeling in a walleye is an ethereal experience.
Being on the water with a rod in hand is also a great way to relax and practice mindfulness. Studies have shown that a connection to water and nature promotes cognitive health and happiness, even after you've left that space. Ever heard of "forest bathing?" Along that path, new research is suggesting that "blue space," e.g marine or freshwater environments, could be slightly more restorative to mental health than green spaces.
2. Fishing can provide a sustainable food source.
As the saying goes, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Well, it's not just men that can provide meals from lake to plate. Women catch, gather, and hunt their own food every single day. It is the most rewarding feeling to know exactly where your food comes from.
From relaxing on the water, to an adrenaline-filled catch, to concentrating on the filet, to creativity cooking a meal, lake-to-plate is the whole experience. Eating fish is also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acid, a heart healthy fat that is great for brain development. When done ethically and legally, catch and cook fishing days are a wonderful and sustainable way to provide for your family.
3. Friendships blossom on the water.
When I am lucky enough to meet another lady angler, we typically just 'click'. It's not every day that you meet another woman who doesn't mind fish slime, touching bait, tying lines, or cold mornings. Those women, the ones who truly understand the dedication and the challenges of fishing, produce easy friendships, bonded over a shared passion of fishing.
I've gone on various "ladies only" fishing trips over the years and have had amazing experiences. The trips have often started with groups of strangers who have only met on social media, but the trips end as a group of friends. It's further proof that fishing with other women creates a connection through experiences that you just can't get anywhere else.
4. Women who fish a lot can help the sport of fishing grow.
Maybe she's born with it...or maybe it's just skills she's spent years on the water to learn. Either way, it's no secret that the more time you spend fishing, the more knowledge you gain. That knowledge, ideally, could be used to mentor others to get into the sport. I've spoken to numerous women who have been intimidated to start fishing alone. Being a mentor to all of those women would be great, but it may not be realistic to the average Jane. What could be realistic, though, is to be a source of support and knowledge online.
Although I know there are mixed feelings about social media and fishing, being an ambassador for angling by sharing knowledge and passion for the sport in a positive way could help break down barriers. Social media provides real life, experience-based expertise and shows all different types of personalities enjoying the sport. If others can relate to and are interested in what you do, they may want to try it too; a win for fishing!
Also, if you're a mom and you fish, you have a special power. You have direct influence over how your entire family spends time. When kids are introduced to fishing at a young age, it tends to carry on into their adult life. If mom and dad are "in the same boat" with a shared love of fishing, that translates and has influence on how kids view the activity. It sends the message, reinforced by the experience, that fishing can be fulfilling and fun for everyone.