Well, open water season just started and I have already hit the river and been successful. I was quite excited to go on a fishing trip with some friends on the Clearwater River. Over the last few years of becoming a new female angler, I have always received some “flack”, because I typically fish with men, even though I am a part of the Women’s Fishing Network. But, to be honest, I have only ever had “my boys”. I honestly consider them Big Brothers to me. They have never made fun of me or negatively criticized me. (Unless I’m laughing with them) They are so proud of me and my skills when I achieve them. It’s a pretty cool feeling to make people proud. I may even be considered their little “prodigy”, BUT, I secretly like to consider myself a “trailblazer” for women that want to get into fishing.
At the end of the trip, while we were ready to wrap up, my friend looked at me and said “Chelsey, will you tie my lure on for me?”. At first, I thought he was making a joke, and then I realized he was being serious. I said to him “No way, because if you lose a fish, I am not taking the blame for the loss because of the knot.”, He looked at me and said, ‘I trust you and I’ll give it a tug before I send it out.” It was a special moment to have been trusted by my fishing buddy to tie his lure. I was proud and I feel good bragging about it. I was thinking to myself, “WHAT, it was just last year I was having him tie lures for me because I couldn’t do it myself and now he’s confident in me tying HIS lures”. It was a really proud moment for myself.
I have spent the last two years working on my casting, river reading, knot tying, proper hook removal and learning about the different types of fish. I used to think fishing was based on luck and I literally would just toss my cast out anywhere and hope I would catch a fish. Now, I am racing the boys to the hole so I can be the first one to cast in the best spot because I know what structures and colour of water to look for. My cast now goes where I want it to and I now know that fishing takes skill, and its not all luck. Now that I am more confident in these skills, I can focus on the next big thing I need to work on, which is proper fish handling. I had no idea that it was important to keep fish wet or why. I did not know that fish slime served an important purpose. These are all things I had to learn, and usually the hard way. The biggest challenge I encountered through my learning journey was the criticism and judgement in the angler world. I was fearful of getting ridiculed for doing something wrong and I may have even had a few messages from people telling me what I did wrong in a negative way. I did not let this stop me from my fishing journey though. Instead, I reached out to my fishing buddies to inquire about the knowledge I needed, and I try to embrace what I learn so other women won’t be intimated. So, although I mostly fish with boys, I am still very much about empowering women and I have made some really amazing connections with other women in the angler world. I also try to get every fishing thing I possibly can in the colour PINK, and the boys never “borrow” my pink gear…..