In the last issue of The Captain, we proudly featured six awesome women who knew their way around the pointy end of a spear. But The Captain always had a lot more to say about the joys of women who can fish. In Part 2 of our Fish ‘n’ Chicks package, we encounter seven sporting she-devils who aren’t too shy when it comes to cranking a reel or going the grunt with a gaff. These girls got game!
The Captain always knows which way the wind is blowing. Ever since he recalibrated his gender equality awareness — with a fair bit of help from Mrs Captain, to be fair — he’s displayed a positive attitude to women in fishing. Unfortunately, not everybody is as enlightened as The Captain. A quick Google search for “women + fishing leads” you straight to sites such as “Fishing Beauties”, “Hot Girls Fishing”, “Women Fishing Topless” and “Hot Chicks with a Rod”. You get the idea. Obviously, there’s work to be done and The Captain has never been one to shy away from an important mission.
The fact is, more women than ever before are involved in the fishing industry, both as recreational participants and as a career choice. In Australia, groups such as Women in Recreational Fishing (WIRF), set up by the Victorian Fishing Authority a couple of years ago, now has more than 1600 members across the country. WTF (Women That Fish) host a women-only Barra Classic every September/ October. This year, the location is the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton in Queensland. A recent US report from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation found that of the new participants who went fishing in 2017, nearly 36 per cent were women. And 46 per cent of those considering fishing were women, mostly of the younger variety. You want the reel deal? Check out this magnificent seven!
Location: Port Stephens, NSW
Occupation: Deckhand/beauty therapist
Specialty: Marlin fishing
Boat Owned: Family owns a 52ft Viking
PB: 135kg black marlin
QUESTIONS FOR AMY
How did you get into fishing? “My mum and dad started fishing when they were young. I’ve been around boats and fishing ever since I can remember. It’s in my blood.”
How often do you outfish the boys? “Mum and I are quiet achievers when it comes to marlin fishing — we get the job done. I would say a fair bit, actually.”
What’s your favourite prey? “Hands down, a striped marlin. They put on a show like no other fish. Their electric blue colouring is amazing and the adrenaline rush you get when you’re hooked up to these fish is insane.”
Most memorable fishing trip? “Interclub Fishing Tournament 2018. The highlight of the comp was catching black, striped and blue marlin — a grand slam in one sked. All our crew worked super-hard and it paid off. We took out Champion Lady Angler for the tournament, but I couldn’t have managed it without the hard work from my family and crew.”
Derogatory comments you’ve heard? “Fishing is a man’s sport and catching a marlin is too hard for a girl. In fact, it’s not about bulky muscle, but technique. There are tiny ladies out there angling 1000 times better than most men.”
Most cringeworthy comments fishermen have said to you? “You did not catch that fish — you’re a girl, you couldn’t catch a marlin.”
What’s your go-to fishing fashion? “Undertow Saltwater Apparel. James from Undertow agrees girls can fish and his range is comfortable and made true to size. The iconic marlin logo on the back is wicked. They’ve just released a new cropped range, which is very versatile — I also wear it to the gym.”
Advice for women who want to get into fishing? “Don’t worry about the pretty fishing girl poses on Instagram. Just let your hair down and have fun in the moment. Fishing is a female sport just as much as a man’s. That rush you get when you’re hooked up to a fish of a lifetime is insane. Once you catch your first fish you’ll be hooked.”
AMY’S TOP FIVE TIPS
1. It’s important to fish where the fish are. Make sure you’re prepared — check the water charts and speak to people who’ve been fishing that area.
2. Try to fish when it is calm. Mother Nature can be scary.
3. Don’t leave fish to find fish.
4. Chase the bite. There’s no point fishing in an area if there are no fish.
5. It’s important everyone works as a team.
Location: St Helens, Tasmania
Occupation: Studying Bachelor of Marine Environment in fisheries management
Specialty: Heavy tackle and deep-water fishing
Boats: Boston Whaler 305 Conquest, 50ft Daytona called Lucy West.
PB: 276kg broadbill swordfish (junior female world record)
QUESTIONS FOR INDY
Favourite boat? “Boston Whalers are one of the most seaworthy trailer boats in the world. Nothing handles like a whaler and the attention to detail is second to none.” What inspired your passion for fishing? “It began in my mother’s womb. My mum was a successful fisherwoman with many trophies to her name. Being on a boat was all I knew. From the moment I could walk, I’ve been fishing and wouldn’t have it any other way. My dad is an avid fisherman and thankfully loves being captain, which has given me the opportunity to be on the rod more often. They say it’s in your blood and I believe it.”
How difficult is being a woman in a predominantly male sport? “My club (St Helens Game Fishing Club) is extremely supportive of female fishers. In my time fishing, there have only been a handful of people who aren’t supportive of women in the industry, but most of those are keyboard warriors.”
How often do you outfish the boys? “The women at our club have been known to outfish the boys, but it’s also thanks to the men giving us the opportunity to have a crack on the rod and encouraging us to get involved. One year, they asked everyone who had caught a billfish to stand, and only females stood.”
What fish do you love chasing? “Marlin are my all-time favourite fish and to catch a 1000-pounder would be an absolute dream. But they aren’t prolific where we are. That leaves southern bluefin tuna and broadbill swordfish as close seconds.”
Most memorable fishing trip? “Nothing will beat one Easter game-fishing competition. It was a 15kg line class comp, so we decided for the first time in club history to have a crack at a swordfish. We hooked up 10 minutes after fishing commenced and 6.5 hours later I was looking at my first swordfish. We raced back, just made weigh-in, and it was the highest point-score fish in Tasmanian history. It was one of the hardest mental battles of my life.”
What derogatory comments have you heard about women who fish? “The most common without a doubt is that women aren’t strong enough. But anyone who knows fishing knows that technique is everything. Another is that the woman didn’t wind the fish in, someone must have helped her. This is usually from individuals who are insecure about their own capabilities.”
Any really cringeworthy comments? “I was loading our boat one day in less than favourable conditions at a sea ramp. A man standing next to my father was stressing that my approach was wrong. Thankfully, my dad trusts his life and vessel in my hands and gave me a sly wink before the boat came on the trailer gently. To be perfectly honest, I’ve had far more positivity than negativity in my time fishing and this is the way it should be.”
What is your go-to fishing fashion? “Pelagic is great gear, and Reel Brand, which is an exceptional new line promoted by Paul Worsteling and Patrick Dangerfield. They have some exciting new gear for women that is practical and fashionable.”
Advice for women who want to fish? “Do it. So much of fishing is about opportunity, but if you can’t find a boat to jump on, create your own opportunity. It’s one of the few sports where physical attributes are not important and don’t hinder our chance to beat the boys. Go out there and kick butt.”
What will increase female representation in fishing? “Opportunity at a young age. I’m thankful to have been on the water since I could walk. Fathers, don’t just take your sons; boyfriends, don’t just take your mates. Get the girls involved. On a serious note, clubs can do their bit running women’s competitions and state bodies should be encouraging female fishing through programs giving opportunity to women. Don’t be scared to get your hands dirty — hold the fish, cut the bait and get involved.”
INDY’S TOP FIVE TIPS
1. Patience. If you don’t have any, you may as well go home.
2. My dad once told me if you want it too bad, it won’t happen. Enjoy the day, the fish are a bonus. When you stop thinking about the fish you’ll start hooking up.
3. Make sure your gear is in tip-top shape. So much of fishing is luck, but if that dream fish comes along and you suffer gear failure, you’ll struggle to sleep for a long time (trust me on this).
4. Open eyes deliver fish and win competitions. Put your phone down and don’t take your eyes off the lures, rods or water.
5. Make sure you pack a good lunch, especially if you have a crabby captain.
Location: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Occupation: Owns Tackle World Cranbourne and Mornington with husband Paul, co-hosts IFISH, social media manager for Paul Worsteling.
Specialty: Any species/any environment
Boat: ”Our new Extremes — a 795 Game King offshore, and a centre console we helped design. I can’t wait to get them wet.”
PB: “Not counting the 450kg pilot whale I caught and released on a Tiagra 130W after it swallowed a whole blackeye tuna off Hawaii? A 140kg blue marlin off Port Stephens
Contact: @ifishchick, @ifishtv, @worstelingstackleworld
QUESTIONS FOR CRISTY
Favourite boat? “I’ve owned and or fished in every trailer boat you can imagine. These days, we lean towards aluminium hulls — they’re fantastic to tow and you get more bang for your buck on the water.”
How did you get into fishing? “I’ve fished since I could walk. My family instilled that love into me from an early age. I was part of a family fishing club for most of my childhood and that’s where I met my husband, Paul.”
How difficult is it being a woman in a predominantly male sport? “Only as difficult as you let it. I was fortunate enough to be included in this sport from such a young age, I didn’t know any different. I worked in a tackle shop since I was nine. You’re surrounded by males, but we all share the same passion.”
How often do you outfish the boys? “There are days when it just seems girls rule! But with two other passionate fishos in my family (Paul and son Jet Reef) the competition is fierce. It’s often about who’s fastest to the rod.”
What is your favourite prey? “It depends what part of the world I’m in and whether it’s salt or freshwater. Nothing beats the adrenaline rush of game fishing, but put me on a river casting at trout and it’s not too dissimilar. The hunt, the take — and you can’t leave out the environment.”
Best fishing adventure? “The one that I do with my boys by my side. I love a trip that takes you somewhere remote or out of your comfort zone. The fish are not only a challenge, but a true bonus.”
What are some stereotypes you’ve heard about women who fish? “We don’t like to touch the bait or get the fish off the hook. That may be true for some, and is totally OK. And we can lie about the size of our fish just as much as men do!”
Advice for women who want to get into fishing? “Just do it. Life is short, you should never deny yourself the opportunity to explore something you’re passionate about. Social media provides excellent connections within the industry and there are many groups that support woman in fishing. I’m a member of the Woman in Recreational Fishing (WIRF) network in Victoria, which has over 2000 members on its Facebook page.” What will help women get more representation in the industry? “Magazines like The Captain making an effort to promote women in fishing is a bloody big step in the right direction. Just make sure fishing is a family activity, not a father-son activity.”
CRISTY’S TOP FIVE TIPS
1. Have a target species. Don’t just go hoping to catch “something”.
2. Be OK with peeing in a bucket or doing a “bush wee”.
3. Be prepared. Do your research on the location, the species and try to take local advice at every opportunity.
4. Don’t forget to enjoy the moment.
5. Take time to get great photos to make the memories last forever.
Location: Cairns, Queensland
Occupation: Social media manager/lash technician
Specialty: Game/sport/reef fishing
Boat: Pioneer 197 Sportfish
QUESTIONS FOR GINA
Favorite boat? “Grady-Whites get my head turning.”
Most memorable fish? “It happened at the end of last year on the Great Barrier Reef — an 800lb black marlin came for a tussle with me from our trailer boat. There were only two of us on board, and it was 3.5 hours of pain on 37kg stand-up tackle with the bruises to show for it! Giant black marlin are addictive and we won’t stop until we nail that infamous 1000-pounder from the trailer boat.”
What inspired your passion for fishing? “My dad. Sadly, we lost him far too soon. He was a pioneer in his day, pushing boundaries and breaking records. Fishing is my strongest connection to those I cherish. It is far more than an escape — it is a mission to continue a legacy. To hit milestones for those here to celebrate with me and for those who sadly can no longer be here.” Is it challenging to be a woman in a predominantly male sport? “I’ve spent most my life competing in male-dominated sports. I raced motocross for 10 years at national level before returning to my soul sport of fishing. The roads have been tough, but it’s almost fuel to achieve even more. Some guys are your biggest supporters; others can be your harshest critics. A thick skin is needed.”
How often do you outfish the boys? “The two boys I fish with are damn good and bloody tough to outfish, but at times, it happens. I pride myself more on the fact that I can hold my own competing alongside them.”
Favourite fish? “So many different species bring me satisfaction in completely different ways. It’s the technique in targeting them that brings the biggest challenge and achievement.” What derogatory comments have you heard? “Lack of strength would be the standout. We aren’t as physically built as male anglers, but it’s technique that gets you over the line — especially on long endurance fights like marlin. A guy yelled something inappropriate at a fishing presentation and got removed by security — let’s say he offered to hold two things while I struggled to hold my trophies. I’ve also had comments that the female category within comps is a ‘handicap or participation award’ Naïve, considering we work just as hard on the rod and deck to place/win as anyone else.”
How can the industry get more women involved? “By being supported, especially within publications like The Captain. Ongoing backing from companies such as Shimano and Simrad has paved the way for women anglers to be represented on their pro teams for years. This sets a precedent for future female anglers to rise through the ranks and have their talent recognised.”
GINA’S TOP FIVE TIPS
1. Research — know your target, know your surroundings.
2. Prepare. Never second-guess gear, if in doubt, don’t use it. Never second-guess weather, she’s savage.
3. Have confidence in your technique and tools.
4. Trial/error/learn. Nothing comes easy. Trust in the process. Highs and lows are inevitable. Learn from each.
5. Persevere. Most of my prized fish have come on the absolute death knock, last cast or brink of despair.
Location: Sydney, NSW
Occupation: Working pharmaceutical industry events
Specialty: Marlin, tuna, swordfish
Boat: Haines Hunter 675 Offshore
PB: 275kg tiger shark, 180kg swordfish
Contact: @shefishes, www.shefishes.com.au
QUESTIONS FOR CHLOE
Favorite boat? “Our Haines Hunter 675 was a dream come true when we bought it two years ago and I’ve yet to find a game-fishing trailer boat I would trade it for. If money was no obstacle, an Assegai would do nicely.”
What inspired your passion for fishing? “I’ve always had a love of marine life and being by the water, but the main thing that drew me was the people. I’ve made so many great friends through fishing and enjoyed some incredible fishing experiences with them.”
How difficult is being a woman in a predominantly male sport? “You have to work harder to prove yourself. Early on, it was a struggle to be taken seriously. It used to frustrate me, but I decided to use it as motivation to work harder and prove the doubters wrong.” How often do you outfish the boys? “In game fishing, we tend to fish as a team, so I wouldn’t say I outfish the boys all that often. That said, there is definitely such a thing as lady luck”
Favourite fish? “Marlin hold a special place in my heart. I’ll never get sick of seeing these magnificent creatures lit up and dancing all over the ocean.”
Favourite fishing adventure? “I’ve done a couple of live-aboard trips to the Great Barrier Reef and it’s hard to beat waking up on the reef on a crystal-clear morning. I also love nothing more than packing the car after work on a Friday and driving down the South Coast to fish for marlin over a weekend.”
What are some derogatory comments you’ve heard? “The most common I get is that I don’t actually catch the fish myself and just get photos with fish caught by other people for social media.”
Any cringeworthy comments? “Almost all the male fishermen I’ve met have been respectful. Social media is often a different story. I’ve had plenty of marriage proposals and you can almost guarantee there’ll be a comment like ‘Beautiful! And the fish ain’t bad either’ or ‘There’s a fish in this photo?’ on every post.”
Advice for women who want to get into fishing? “Don’t wait another moment. Join a fishing club as you will not only meet some great people, but it will help you learn a lot quicker than doing it on your own.”
What will change the underrepresentation of women in the fishing industry? “We’re certainly still underrepresented, but I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of women out fishing. Social media has been a huge help in showing women fishing doesn’t have to be about smelly bait and waiting hours for a bite. It has certainly got a lot cooler in recent years and with more female fishing role models for young girls to look up to, the future is looking bright.”
CHLOE’S TOP FIVE TIPS
1. There’s no substitute for time on the water. Even if you aren’t catching, you’re always learning.
2. Stay connected. Whether it’s joining a fishing club, following fishing forums or keeping a keen eye on social media, having a good fishing network helps massively when it comes to learning new techniques or hearing about that red-hot bite.
3. Don’t be afraid to travel to find fish, especially marlin. Follow the weather, the water and recent reports to stay on the bite. Often a one- or two-hour drive up or down the coast can mean the difference between a great day’s fishing and a day driving around the ocean wasting fuel.
4. Preparation and organisation is everything. Things can get chaotic in game fishing very quickly, so I run an organised deck with little clutter. The best time to catch a fish is often straight after you’ve just landed one, so being organised allows you to get lures or baits straight back in the water to maximise your chances of a multiple fish day.
5. In game fishing, angling technique beats brute strength every time.
Location: South Mission Beach, Queensland
Occupation: Graphic designer
Boat: Haines Hunter V16R, 3.86 Sea Jay tinny
PB: 18kg Spanish mackerel (in the tinny)
QUESTIONS FOR EBONY
What inspired your passion for fishing? “I was brought up on the water and on Moreton Island. Fishing has been a huge part of my upbringing since day one. There was something so special about getting that first fish over the side on my own. I’ll never forget it.” Favourite boat? “There is no going past an old-school Haines — we have five in the family.”
How often do you outfish the boys? “Boys… what boys? Unless I have my big brother Ben around, I’m usually heading out on my own.”
Favourite fish to catch? “It would have to be mackerel or GT. Mackies are such a great sport and one of my favourites to eat, which makes them an all-round winner. But GTs are in a league of their own. The strike, run, thump and fight of those guys is incredible.” Favourite place to fish? “A day out on the reef that covers both line and spear grounds. It’s a blessing to enjoy the best of above and below in one trip.”
Have you had derogatory comments from fishos? “To be honest, I have never received a comment firsthand that warranted a cringe. The guys I surround myself with treat me as an equal. They know how to laugh at me and with me, cheer me on, stir me up and give me advice — unless it’s about their fishing marks.”
Advice for women who want to get into fishing? “Just start. It’s never about the size of the fish, it’s about being out there, laughing, learning and giving it a good hot go. And if you’re struggling with confidence when it comes to fishing gear and boats, never be scared to reach out.”
How do we ensure women are represented in the industry? “A handful of genuine female role models encouraging, educating and inspiring other women to fish for the love of it will pave the way for future generations.”
EBONY’S TOP FIVE TIPS
1. Be prepared and maintain your gear.
2. Don’t restrict yourself to a fishing rod — spearing is just as fun and a good plan B.
3. Never let the opinion of others stop you giving it a go.
4. Don’t be scared to use light gear.
5. Fish because you love it.
Location: Open road, USA
Occupation: Professional angler/freelance writer
Specialty: Kayak fishing
Boat: Hobie Pro Angler 14 360
PB: 8ft sturgeon
QUESTIONS FOR KRISTINE
How did you get into fishing? “I was born into an outdoors-centred family. We camped and fished family walleye tournaments. I continue to fish because it’s something that allows me to focus on one thing and put together the puzzle.”
Favourite boat? “I love Hobie for a variety of reasons. The large platform and stability cater to my fishing styles and preferences. I also like the mirage drive, it’s the most efficient on the market.”
Is it difficult being a woman in a predominantly male sport? “It definitely has its own set of challenges. It almost feels like you’re moving to a new school each week, having to re-introduce yourself and re-prove yourself to different guys in the industry. It’s always been difficult to be taken seriously, but fishing competitively has really helped that.”
How often do you outfish the boys? “I won three big national tournaments last year, each with more than 100 guys competing. I was also ranked fourth overall in our national kayak fishing standings.”
Favourite species to target? “Musky (muskellunge, a species of large, relatively uncommon freshwater fish) — they make you work for it.”
Bucket-list fishing trip? “I would make a solo trip in a two-seater plane down to a remote island in the Bahamas, rent a boat from a local, get two tanks of gas, rent a few rods and go adventure. I’ve also always wanted to get down to the Amazon and chase tiger fish, or the Kamchatka River in Russia.”
What are some derogatory comments you’ve heard? “That we can’t catch our fish without a guide or without our ‘boyfriends’. ‘Where’s your boyfriend?’ ‘Are you out here by yourself?’ ‘Are you lost?’”
Advice for women who want to get into fishing? “Don’t let fear or intimidation bind you. If you truly love the sport, give it your all. Remain authentic.”
What will increase female representation in fishing? “More women competing in tournaments. We need to redefine the female angler stereotype — more women getting out there and winning will help elevate us all.”
KRISTINE’S TOP FIVE TIPS
2. Time on the water.
4. Map study.
KRISTINE’S TOP FIVE SPOTS TO FISH IN THE US
1. Lake St Clair, Michigan — world-renowned musky and smallmouth fishing.
2. New River in Virginia — beauty and big smallmouth and musky.
3. Gunnison River, Colorado — scenery.
4. Gallatin River, Montana.
5. The Everglades in Florida, because it’s wild.