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On women as expert anglers.

Many women these days truly deserve the designation of "expert angler." The question is, do they deserve it as much as the expert males with whom they share the upper echelons of fishing success?

Of course not.

They deserve it a whole lot more because they have had to overcome obstacles that men never face.

Unfair gender disparities become apparent in early childhood, when most angling careers begin with an outing for panfish. Just the promise of going fishing is generally enough to send a small boy into a state of noisy euphoria. And when he discovers that his bait is going to be a pail of earthworms, crickets or live shrimp, he becomes downright delirious. Catch a fish or not, he will still get to handle gooey, crawly things--a joyful activity on its own merit, and one that is discouraged, if not strictly forbidden, at home.


That sort of exuberance is a normal male reaction and does not necessarily translate into future fishing devotion. On the other hand, the same moment is probably a defining one in the angling life of a woman, because little girls, although they might be equally thrilled by their first fishing trip, are sure to have second thoughts as soon as they see the disgusting things that must be used for bait. Most of them will gag or shriek or at least cry "Yuck!" and refuse to fish unless someone else baits their hook.

A few young lassies, however, will grit their teeth and dip right into the old bait bucket with bare little hands. Those are the ones with the potential to scale the angling heights, perhaps all the way to tournament championships and world records.

As for the girls who fail that first test, few of them will ever seek or attain angling fame but a great many will continue to fish for fun, because they quickly learn that a helpless smile (combined at the appropriate age with a stylish bikini) will always get their hooks baited for them.

Another unfair hurdle in the path of women anglers is what we might refer to as the sanitation problem aboard open boats.

When nature calls, a male has only to pick up the receiver, whereas a female must overcome a host of physical and psychological challenges. Any ladies who figure out how to survive this huge test on a continuing basis are not likely to have much trouble figuring out fish.

Anyway, all fathers should at least give their sons and daughters an early opportunity to test the waters, so to speak. Even if they do not show the makings of an expert angler, ample reason remains to take a child fishing. The one most commonly cited by a husband to his wife is that fishing not only promotes closeness between father and child but also keeps the kid off the street and out of the shopping malls.

Assuming that he can carry off this argument convincingly--and also assuming that he actually has a child--a man might be able to go fishing with reasonable regularity even though married.

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Title Annotation:Waterfront View
Author:Dunaway, Vic
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:May 1, 2011
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