For a hundred years now, rightly, women have had the right to vote. Women have been acknowledged and celebrated as individuals in our society and many of the greatest minds of the past, present, and I am sure the future have been female. Yet Angling still feels like it lags a little. However, times are changing, and the sport is beginning to boast some great female Anglers. We wanted to celebrate this and asked some female anglers to share their thoughts. Our first contributor is Karen Sarkar. Karen works as the Support and Administration Officer for the Angling Trusts Fisheries Enforcement Support Service. Here is what she had to say about her life in Angling:
Written By: Karen Sarkar
Unlike many of my male counterparts, I was not brought up fishing. In fact, girls who relished spending whole days outdoors, getting muddy and wet (which my style of fishing still does) were disparagingly labelled ‘tomboys’. So, in my case, I was encouraged into the sport, albeit at a mature age, by my fishing fanatic husband who didn’t seem to mind the thought of a female tagging along. This is an unusual trait amongst many anglers, especially when his fellow fanatics seemed to regard fishing as a good excuse to escape the missus for a few hours! Worse still, I needed tutoring from scratch. The only thing I had to offer was my often-misplaced enthusiasm, stubborn determination and a ‘tomboy’ outlook on the world which had, fortunately, never completely left me!
Several years later, I have fished some memorable places and caught some memorable fish whilst scrambling up the angling learning ladder and quite often a very slippery bank! I have experienced many paradoxes. Both open encouragement and open rivalry, I have experienced both acceptance as a ‘proper angler’ and suspicion whether I bait the rod myself. I think the struggle is still there and females seem to have more to prove, at least in my experience, to be accepted than males.
There are many brilliant initiatives, such as Get Hooked On Fishing, which exist to promote angling as the amazing pastime it is and a terrific reason for getting outdoors and away from the Xbox. But again, in my experience within specimen coarse angling, fishing hasn’t totally caught up with the idea that it needs to be more inclusive to preserve the long-term future of the sport. The evidence is the lack of female clothing or sizes, (“any good mate?”), and the ‘male, stale and pale’ demographic which still exists in many angling clubs. The latter, again very much from my own experience, needs to change so that women feel less vulnerable and able to contemplate fishing alone. It would be great if clubs could provide bailiffs for this and maybe have women-only days to encourage confidence within a group setting. It goes without saying that bank-side ‘facilities’ are a must where possible!
In most other sports I can think of there doesn’t exist the lack of female participation which angling has, so yes, we do need to keep promoting the achievements of the women who are clearly as passionate about it as the ‘boys’. Then we may just see attitudes change and more serious, female orientated articles in the angling press, which can only encourage more females into our wonderful sport. Please just remember though that we don’t go fishing in a bikini or need to wear pink!