Fishing has been a recreational pursuit I have enjoyed for many years. Whilst it is primarily a male dominated sport, women are being given more opportunities to take part in the industry. This has been a long, drawn out process though and we've got to hand it to the ladies who pioneered the sport for the fairer sex.

Accepting women into the sport of fishing has also become more prominent with the passing of time, as it has been in other areas - voting, becoming members of once "male only" clubs, and to feature more widely in such sports as tennis where today, greater television coverage is given to the girls than in the past.


ANSA

One movement which began its existence as a male only club was ANSA (Australian National Sportfishing Association). It was back in the early days though that gee whiz, they needed a female to record the minutes of the meeting.

And that's where Jennifer Mondora stepped into the role, and ANSA. Previously, she wasn't allowed into the meetings with her husband and instead waited outside until the meeting had drawn to a close. Times certainly have changed with a large number of females joining the ranks of the club.

Marina Hoare was elected the first female president of an Ansa club in her home town of Cairns. She joined the Cairns Sportfishing Club in 1982 and after compiling the club's newsletter for a period of four years, was elected President, a position she held for six years.

She was pleased to know that when she "retired" from the position, there were another six female Presidents of Ansa clubs in Queensland.

She was also elected the President of Ansa Queensland. Her rise within the ranks was met with mixed feelings amongst the general members and she too had her doubts about her position.

She felt that everything had happened very quickly and was concerned whether it "looked good" to have a female on board. It could not have been too bad as she has held the position for six years.

Marina has also been awarded the Eric Moller Award. This is the highest accolade Ansa Qld can bestow on one of its members, for both fishing ability and commitment to Ansa.

Her fishing abilities match those to running a successful club. Her greatest achievement was winning the North Queensland Championships, beating some of the best anglers in the State.

She won champion angler (overall), champion female, champion team and line class honours of 1kg, 2kg and 4kg.

The Tackle Shop Blues

Although there is more tolerance towards fisherwomen, there are still occasions where they can be made to feel like second class citizens. Walking through the doors of a tackle shop is one of them.

I believe that male tackle shop assistants with a patronising attitude towards women are becoming fewer but still, they do exist.

One of the more common complaints is that they are made to feel like they're treading in a man's domain and can't wait to leave.

Complaint number two is to be ignored completely. Women as well as men have money to burn when it comes to loading up on fishing tackle, whether it be buying a gift or spending it on themselves. Acknowledgement of us girls in store can lead to quite a lot more money going through the till.

Complaint number three would be the loathing of being called Sweetie, Lovey or Deary. Ughh!!! Besides sounding condescending, it really is a pet hate of many women to be called one of these derogatory terms.

A little understanding and plenty of assistance can go a long way into turning the female customers into regular customers.

I've also had the experience of working on the other side of the counter in a tackle outlet. I admit, I don't know every minor detail about the thousands of lines we carry but on the other hand, I can certainly help with the large majority of items in stock.

Sometimes it takes a little time to "break down the barrier" between myself and a male customer. Friendly chatter about fishing in general seems to work well. If a customer is viewing a selection of lures well suited to Flathead, I'll often ask where he's venturing to chase those particular fish.

Most are surprised to discover that I do know what I'm talking about and usually, we will continue the conversation with other related fishing experiences.

In many instances, they'll even ask which lures they should be selecting. The best moment of all is when that particular customer walks back through the door to let me know they've caught fish on the lure. That's great.

In the beginning, I knew a lot of females required help when selecting tackle but I was also surprised at the lack of fishing knowledge some gents possess. When I was younger, I assumed that fishing was in the male genes and guys knew everything there was to know about fish. How mistaken was I!

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