Participation Grows Among Women Anglers

Fishing guide Iolanthe Culjak fly fishes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

Fishing guide Iolanthe Culjak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

Think fishing is a male-dominated sport? Not exactly!

There has been a growing trend in the number of female anglers participating in fishing. A 2012 study by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation found that female anglers represented the largest group of new folks hooked on fishing. The unprecedented growth in a male-dominated sport has led to more than 12 million women fishing nationwide with ladies now making up nearly 30 percent of all anglers. If those numbers do not catch your attention, consider that there are now two times the number of women fishing than there are playing golf.

Here in Colorado, women have become particularly attracted to fly fishing; one in eight fly anglers are women.

“I have noticed a recent upward trend among the female fly-fishing community,” said Mike Kruise, owner of the Laughing Grizzly Fly Shop in Longmont. ” We get more and more women in the shop every year.”

Fishing guide and author of “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park,” Steve Schweitzer said, “women tend to be better listeners (than men) and quickly pick up the basics of casting with less effort, later becoming more adept at delivering a fly presentation with patience and attention to detail.”

For those feeling self conscious about being a novice, a vast amount of instructional angling videos and paperbacks are available at local libraries or online.

Estes Park resident, Iolanthe Culjak was initially introduced to fly fishing by a friend and later honed her skills by spending equal time on the water and reading about the sport. While Culjak herself enjoys fly fishing, she also shares this unique opportunity with others by guiding part time.

Culjak offered a wealth of advice, “Not having any water conveniently at hand is not exactly a negative; I would recommend choosing a back yard or open space to practice casting,” said Culjak. “Read up on the local insects in your area and watch the insects flying around and under rocks in the river. Pick out a fly that looks like the insects. Pay attention to the trout’s behavior and where they are feeding; on the surface, near the bottom or anywhere in between. Finally, offer the fish what they want and you are on your way. Of course a lesson from a local guide is a great way to get an introduction to the sport prior to investing in your own gear.”

Iolanthe Culjak awaits a strike on a foam hopper pattern. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

Iolanthe Culjak awaits a strike on a foam hopper. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

Once a new angler masters a few knots, it’s time to hit the water. For those still feeling unsure, many of Colorado’s rivers are quite secluded, so you can practice without offering a comedic showing to all those who drive by.

Are you interested in learning how to fish? Colorado Parks and Wildlife hosts and sponsors free fishing clinics that provide opportunities for beginners to gain fishing skills. Inexpensive fly-fishing classes are also taught monthly at fly-fishing shops throughout Colorado.

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This article was written by Ben Swigle. Swigle is a fish biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Northeast Region.

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