Fish Gut Friday … She Fisherwoman
“She Captains, women that infamously possessed the “Bodies of women, and the souls of men”. Some were bold and crafty pirates, that terrorized their shipmates, doing “deeds beyond the valor of women.” Others were sirens, whom the mariners made rover captain for her beauty. Like their male counterparts, these astonishing women were drawn to the oceans beauty, and danger.”
That is from the book “She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea” , by Joan Druett. I found it fitting for this week’s story, which is about the women of the fishing community. Women and fishing is nothing new, women have always fished, and the numbers are climbing everyday. Most of us started as little girls, and were influenced by their dad, husband, or in my case, my grandmother as well. I personally never looked at fishing as a men’s only sport, but more a family sport, as did most of the women I talked to.
When I started gathering info for this story, I messaged some of the most involved women in the fishing community that I could think of. I had no idea the amazing slew of stories and experiences I was going to get back. I got so much “good stuff”, I am going to break it down in two parts, so stay tuned for next week!
“My father taught me to fish. From the time I could stand, I was learning to catch bait and hook worms. I remember nights in the garden finding night crawlers with a flashlight. Fishing never felt like a guy sport to me. We fished lakes, off the boat for anything we could. At about 8 years old , I caught a large mouth bass. He would not help me reel it in, he just kept encouraging me to reel it in. He entered it in a competition at a local fishing club, which I was not able to enter. So yes, Dad cheated for me, The fish won a fishing rod, a Garcia Cherrywood rod that I still have 40+ years later. So with that, I continued to fish. Finding surf fishing, boat fishing, and tournaments has led me to find great friends, and finding a way to feed us on occasion. Best of all, a passion I share with my husband. We fish together a lot, and love it.” ~ Debbie Wiechardt
“ I just started fishing with a passion a few years ago. I met a man who loved fishing and I knew I needed to give it a try. We are on the water every chance we get, I never knew how I would fall so in love with a sport. I feel I was natural learner. I first learned how to catch flounder, rockfish, and taug , then trigger. The craziest and most scary was shark fishing on the Broadkill river. I have a phobia about sharks, and my fiancé wanted me to conquer my fears. He threw out rods, and he told me to keep the reels in the holder. I was confused on why not to hold it? About 10 minutes later, in the dark, the reel started screaming! My eyes must have been as big as saucers. He told me to grab the rod and start reeling! I felt the shark beneath me, it was huge, I never felt such power or pull, it stunned me! I felt I was making head way, and then it shifted under the boat. I never had a fish break my line, and when this one went under the boat, he won and broke free. I am still scared of sharks but I respect them, as I do all precious marine life around us. We throw back our catch unless we plan to use it soon. I love just being out in nature, I feel so blessed to see nature up close, it is the most relaxing hobby you could have. I believe women can do anything thy can put their mind to, and we have the ability to multi-task, which helps our skills . To any women that has not tried fishing, give it a try!! You may be surprised and find the best stress reliever you have ever found!” ~ Mandie Stadler
A mans view ….. “So what I would like to say is that watching women fish in general is awesome! Just like my friend Anastasia. She is more of a boat fisherwomen, but is learning the surf. What is cool is she sees it as a both man’s and woman’s sport. It’s all about friends, bonding, having a good time, and learning for everyone. I will also say that at least the women I know that fish, they fish harder and catch more fish than the men I fish with“ ~ Corby Fulton
” I remember one time being on the beach and struggling with a feisty spiny dog. I was with a group, me being the only woman. I heard one of the guys say maybe someone should help her? Then another pipes up and says “she’s a fisherwoman, she can handle it.” I took this as a compliment. I have helped women, and men on the beach, and have been helped in return. I don’t know everything. I just want to be treated equally, as I do with other fishermen/women. ~ Suzanne Martin
“ My first day walking into the captains course, I knew that everyone was going to judge me. The only girl in class. I walked to the back of the room, where it’s more comfortable. While I heard comments the entire long walk, which only actually took seconds but it felt like a year. We’ll see if she can swim, laughs and mocking were among many of the things heard on that long ten second walk. I pretended not to care, I wanted to hide but I knew I was better than that. I knew I would win this immature battle and come out with memories and friends. I stayed silent. I only started talking when they went around the room and asked everyone why they were here. I listened … “I have to upgrade my six-pack for work” … “I need a job” … “I currently mate but want to upgrade”… all valid. I stood up and you could feel the energy in the room shift to sarcastic, yet inquisitive silent laughter. I explained my story in just a few short but sturdy words. My dad was a Captain, I mated for him for my entire youth, he just passed away at forty-seven my mom needs a captain. I’m not sure for how long but I have to do this for her. I sat down. I could see everyone rethink what they initially though about me. I ended up graduating the top of a class of thirty, awarded everything, outscoring them all. When I was called to the front of the graduation, I felt like everyone remembered that first day. I’m not boasting at all because in those twelve weeks, I made many friends and helped out some really close ones with the exams. I prepared. I worked hard. It wasn’t my dream to do this but it helped my mom in her process and in turn helped me. I’m still in contact with many of the guys who were in my class. I can say this, not everyone passed this hundred ton exam, but I did. I asked for help when needed and offered everything I had to those guys. By graduation I had got to know many people in different stages of life and we all got along. I had to work for it but I respect each and every “person” in that class, have built friendships and know what they went through. After graduation next is taking the oath is Baltimore . All three employees went directly over to Patrick with papers, ready for finger prints. He proudly stepped back and said, not me, this is my wife Amy, it was energizing!” ~ Captain Amy Conroy
These are just a few true and amazing stories I have gathered this week, and will share the rest next week in part two. I am honored: One, to call these fine women and men friends. Two, to have them so freely share what I find to be their “story” about a passion we all share. Three, to fish and be part of the adventure!