I’d like to talk a little about one of the important outreach and education programs we have at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC): our Women’s Fishing Clinics. Since I haven’t yet had the opportunity to attend one of these events, this month, I’m passing the pen over to guest writer Amanda Nalley to tell you more about learning the lifetime sport of saltwater fishing.
Because we aren’t born knowing how to tie a clinch knot
Not everyone is as lucky as me. I can’t remember how old I was when someone first stuck a fishing pole in my hand. At my grandpa’s pond, I learned the basics: patience, how to not hook your finger or the person behind you, and how to not be afraid of touching that slimy fish.
Unlike me, many women, and many men for that matter, didn’t get the experience I did growing up around the water. And while fishing is fun, it doesn’t always come naturally. New and better gear is invented. The mind, out of practice, forgets how to tie an improved clinch knot. Just trying to figure out which way to hold a fishing pole for the first time can be daunting.
It’s with this in mind that, in 2010, the idea for the Women’s Fishing Clinic was conceived. These free, statewide events aim to educate current and future adult anglers who would like to learn about Florida’s natural resources.
Participants learn the difference between a spinning rod and a bait-caster, the basics on how to use a rod, how to cast a line without hooking someone behind you, and how to toss a cast net and actually catch something. Local fishing guides will teach you the tricks of the trade. The sessions help folks get comfy with being on the water, while an FWC officer reviews boating safety. And, as if that isn’t enough, at the end of the day, you’ll get to test out your new skills with your own fishing experience.
Think you already know it all? Everyone needs a refresher on how to be an ethical angler now and then. Participants will also learn how recreational anglers impact local fisheries and what they can do as “fisheries managers.” One thing is the importance of and how to actually use a de-hooking device. Another lesson is how to catch a fish with a circle hook and why fish handling can make or break your catch-and-release experiences.
This course is also great for visitors to the state who want to make sure they know what they are doing before hitting the shore.
The first Women’s Fishing Clinic was held on March 5, 2010, in Crystal River. It was a small program, drawing only four participants but allowing more student-teacher contact. Since then, the program has expanded into new areas, including Jacksonville, Cedar Key, Panama City and Melbourne Beach, with each program drawing more and more attendees.
Now, in the close of the second year, the Women’s Fishing Clinic is casting into 2013 with high expectations and new locations on the horizon, including Pensacola, Daytona, West Palm Beach, Port Charlotte and St. Petersburg.
The next Women’s Fishing Clinic will be June 22 at MacArthur State Park in North Palm Beach, 10900 Florida A1A. Register today, as the event is limited to 20 participants.
The clinics also are always in need of experienced angler volunteers.
For more information, to volunteer or to register, contact Jennifer Saranzak at 352-543-9219 or Jennifer.Saranzak@MyFWC.com.
Also check out Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!, another program for women interested in learning more about saltwater fishing. The FWC participates in and sponsors the program. Learn more at ladiesletsgofishing.com.
Gone Coastal is one of many ways that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management is helping recreational anglers understand complex saltwater regulations and learn more about saltwater fishing opportunities and issues in Florida. We are also available to answer questions by phone or email anytime, and we would love the opportunity to share information through in-person presentations with recreational or commercial fishing organizations. To contact the FWC’s Regulatory Outreach subsection call 850-487-0554 or email Alan.Peirce@MyFWC.com.
Image courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission