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“Do you ‘actually’ fish?”

By Skip Clement 

NOTE: Mr. Clement’s opinion is not necessarily that of Fly Life Magazine.com LLC.

At the recent Fly Fishing Show in Atlanta (February 2-3), waiting to talk to Judy Normore, general manager of Big River Camp, a Nova Scotia lodge, two women with experienced outdoors written all over them came up to the booth. One casually asked me if I still fly fished.

I could have read that question as a subtle play of looks and tones and laughs that implied to one another that I, being old, was more suited for the glue factory than negotiating the torrents of a salmon river. The question was not offensive, a little off-putting maybe, but it turned out there was more to their curiosity.

However, today, some women think that the question of “do you fish?” if tonally asked the wrong way or even asked, needs to be written about, called out in headlines as an egregious offense for which they are defenseless.

Wanda Taylor does it all. Click on image to visit her casting school website.

Sexism is rotten tomatoes

With all the sex offender news coming out of Hollywood and the sanctified halls of Congress, an apologetic and fear struck audience of men in the tiny world of fly fishing are cowering. Fishing and fly fishing articles suggesting misogynists are more than a few among our community annoy me, and others.

One frightened executive’s mea culpa was scary – saying, “. . . if you find a problem with any particular person at a show, we will . . . ” Worse, there’s a coterie of women now piling-on who love a good fight even if there isn’t one worth… “Do you ‘actually’ fish.”

Let’s not walk backward

Anyone who fly fishes is privileged – isolating one group as needing “special” mercies beyond getting manufacturers to make clothes and gear that fit women, does no good at all for the whole of us. As fly fishers we must maintain solidarity of community. We are the lead spokespersons for sustainable conservation in the world. We need everyone behind saving public lands and conserving those properties from irresponsible extraction.

Women are 25% of the fishing population. That’s up from just one or two percent in the 1990’s. Ladies, thank goodness you’re in the fight. You’re much needed.

In 1948, noted fly fisher Charles Ritz invited Joan to the first post-war fly fishing event to re-open in Europe, and she won the competition in an impressive fashion at only 21-years-old. In 1951, she became the first woman in history to win the Fisherman’s Distance Event, casting 131 feet against all-male competition, a truly remarkable achievement. Image credit Joan Wulff.

Early on, Joan Wulff won casting tournaments and was denied the trophies because she was not a man. Wanda Taylor was the first woman in the world to pass the men only International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified Casting Instructor exam

Women I know would know exactly what to say to a guy who condescendingly said, “Do you ‘actually’ fish?” That would be an ex, two daughters, three granddaughters, and a half dozen women I interviewed for this story. And, ” . . . Me, poor guy would be in tears and house broken on the spot.” – My angling friend and retired litigation attorney, Angie Roth.

Featured Image is Meryl Streep filming “The River Wild.” It required fly-fishing experience, so production called in Lori-Ann Murphy to show her the ropes. From the looks of this photo, she had a good time learning. Lori-Ann Murphy photo.

Click here to learn more about famous women in fly fishing.

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