By Yvonne Brown
More than any other demographic, the number of women anglers is growing annually, especially in relation to ice fishing because of easy access to locations. It is relatively inexpensive to get started in the sport – a good quality rod and reel, some basic tackle and a fishing license will cost about $200.
Angling is a fantastic activity for the whole family to participate in and provides a wonderful opportunity for people to get outdoors and enjoy time in the fresh air. Children involved in fishing and other outdoor activities learn an appreciation for our environment and, in time, become the future stewards of this country’s natural resources.
In 2012, I started a program called Fishing 101 for Women which was designed to introduce women to the sport. As numbers grew and anglers, from the brand new to those that fish tournaments, continued to request programming beyond the basics, Fishing 101 evolved into Ontario Women Anglers https://www.ontariowomenanglers.ca/. We created new programs and diversified to include species and technique specific outings – fly and ice fishing, bass tournaments, muskie, steelhead and pike fishing, to name just a few, as well as educational seminars and workshops.
Ontario Women Anglers provides, not only provides fishing events with like-minded ladies, but mentorship opportunities and a safe environment for women to gather where there are no stupid questions. We have a core team of female volunteers that are instructors, ambassadors, mentors, promoters, and organizers.
When women learn new skills like setting up their own rod and reel, tying their own knots, and fish care, they feel empowered when they put all this knowledge into practice and make a successful catch. They gain confidence in their abilities and are apt to try new techniques, fish new bodies of water, drive their own boats, and share their new talents with others. Bringing home a fish supper for the family is certainly something to be proud of, too!
Fishing is a sport that can be started at anytime in a person’s life. The only true barrier women face is attitudinal, but with more and more ladies out on the water, the sport is changing in a positive way.
In late 2012, Yvonne founded Fishing 101 for Women which evolved into Ontario Women Anglers in 2015. Her focus is to contribute to the growth of the sport by increasing female participation, and in turn, so that women will pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation of new anglers.
As an ambassador for the Keep Canada Fishing initiative, she promotes National Fishing Week and licence-free fishing days at every opportunity. Yvonne has also been an instructor at the OFAH Women’s Outdoor Weekend for the past 10 years and writes for a number of outdoor publications.
In February 2016, Yvonne became the first woman to receive the Rick Amsbury Award of Excellence, presented by the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame, for her contributions to the sport. In 2019, she was the first female recipient of the President’s Award from the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association.
Nowadays she is also a proud resident of Inverary.