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Although there are many reasons why people fish -- for relaxation, camaraderie, solitude, food, or to be outdoors -- Jeff Kinzli says the ultimate pleasure for a fisherman is the thrill of the catch.

"I was about 11 years old, and we were fishing the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz, California. It was about 7 a.m., cold, and a ton of fishermen [were] around. The first fish caught that day was by me, and on a fly [as opposed to catching it with bait]!

"I was the envy of everyone, and I was so proud. It wasn't a huge fish, but it was a steelhead, and it was caught on a fly. I was hooked at that point, and even days afterwards I couldn't believe that I had actually caught a steelhead on a fly. It was quite a feat."

While fishing is dominated by men, Sherri Osborn of Minnesota is one of a growing number of women who find relaxation in fishing. She recalls a fishing trip that illustrates some of the sport's frustrations and challenges:

"We had heard the hot spot to fish was across the lake from the resort we were staying at, so we headed out. We were about halfway across the lake when the wind kicked up. The wind helped create enormous waves, which were coming straight at us and washing over the front of the boat.

"After much water bailing and what seemed like forever, we finally made it across. By the time we made it there, the fish had decided to move. Quite the experience!"

Conservation is a very big issue in fishing today. The effects of pollution, development, commercial fishing, and the sheer number of recreational fishers out there means that the future of the sport itself depends on attention to the issue.

"Catch and release" is the buzz phrase and is required in some bodies of water. More and more fishermen who fish for reasons other than food are deciding to return their catch to the water alive. Some fishers are even taking their photographs underwater to increase the chances that the fish will survive.

Catch and release is more complex than it sounds. Recent studies have shown that unless catch and release is handled properly and humanely, many fish die later anyway.

You can get information on proper catch and release techniques from the many Web sites devoted to fishing, or through your local fishing club.

Carren Jones, vice-president of an angler's club for women, says her club teaches kids about catch and release.

"Our annual tournament that we have each year for women is purely catch and release. That way, there are still fish in the water for the next person to enjoy the thrill of the catch. We try and teach kids about keeping lakes and rivers clean."

About 35 million adult anglers (hook fishers) participate in the sport in the U.S. alone. Together they spend $37 billion a year on such things as fishing equipment, licences, boats, books, magazines, bait, food and lodging.

They have a significant impact on the U.S. economy, contributing over $3 billion a year in income taxes, according to the American Sportfishing Association.

Fishing can be a complicated sport with a lot of choices to make. Freshwater versus saltwater, bait versus lure. What species would you like to catch? Different fish respond to different types of lures.

Do you like a challenge or an easy catch? Will you eat the fish? Where will you fish? Will you fish by boat or from land? Weather doesn't have to be a barrier -- you can even fish through the ice in winter.

Getting Started

The first thing you must do is a get a fishing license. Some types of fishing require separate licences. Licences are generally not expensive, running from $5 to $20 on average. Some areas waive the license fees for children or seniors.

Make yourself aware of the fishing regulations for the area you plan to fish in. Fishing can be prohibited in some areas and at certain times of the year. The types, size, and quantity of fish you catch may be limited.

Information is available from your local fish and game or environmental protection department. Some Web sites devoted to fishing post fishing license fees and regulations.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions," says Osborn. "Other people usually enjoy helping, especially if you will listen to a few of their fish stories!"

"First, I would suggest that you check your local clubs to see if there are any fishing clubs and if they have women in them," adds Jones, explaining that some women find it easier to fish with other women.

"Some clubs have both men and women. Then I would suggest that you go to your local sports shop to get advice on a rod or reel and tackle that you would need. We have helped some of our women with their fishing gear by going with them to a sports store and helping them buy what they need."

Fishing equipment sales is a multibillion-dollar industry. There are many types of rods, reels, poles, lines, leaders, lures, bait, hooks, sinkers, tackle boxes, and depth finders to choose from. Keep it simple in the beginning.

Starting out, you can equip yourself well enough for less than $100. Later, you might find yourself spending several hundred on the rod alone. Saltwater equipment is more expensive because it must withstand harsher conditions.

What's good to use for bait? It depends on the fish. It can be anything from night crawlers to live minnows to popcorn, cheese or even mini-marshmallows. You need to learn a lot about your chosen fish to decide.

Brightly colored lures are hot right now. Trends change in fishing, and apparently fish can be quick to catch on.

Certain types of fish react to certain types and colors of lures while others don't. But after a while, fish learn to stay away from the bright ones. Some fishers recommend mixing an assortment of natural-looking lures along with the bright colors.

Fly-tying is an art in itself. Many Web sites, such as Field and Stream, offer how-to articles. You can even buy a software package that shows you how to make 1,800 different ones.

Many fishers like variety as well. "Many fisherman switch from bass, crappie or walleye to muskies because they get tired of their old species," says Ian Smith, muskie fisherman (the muskie is short for muskellunge, a large, spirited North American fish).

"Also, some consider muskies more challenging to catch, as they are a rare fish even in lakes where they are quite common -- a good day for muskies might be to catch one fish, while for crappies or walleye catching a dozen or three or four is normal.

"Many like to fish for them because they get very big, and I like them because every time I catch one my knees shake a little bit each time -- it's very exciting, as they can be quite ferocious."

There is a range of job opportunities in the fishing industry. Kinzli has dabbled in it all his life.

"From the time I was nine years old, I have worked in my father's fly-fishing business. Now that I'm 30, married and working in the computer business, I still choose to work with him on Saturdays, go to trade shows with him, and go on fishing trips with him."

Other career choices include working at one of the many retailers selling equipment, vehicles, or bait, serving as a guide or instructor, or providing lodging and refreshment to fishers.

"Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, and never think you can't do it!" says Osborn.

"I was amazed the first time I saw one of the women launch their own boat! As far as I knew, that was a 'man thing.' Sit back, relax, and enjoy it. There are few things quite as satisfying as the thrill of the big one on the other end of the end, even if it gets away!"


Wulff School of Fly-Fishing
P.O. Box 948
Livingston Manor , NY   12758


American Sportfishing Association
420-225 Reinekers Lane.
Alexandria , VA   22314
E-mail :

North American Fishing Club


Field and Stream and Outdoor Life Online

Fishing and Hunting News Online

Online Fly-Fishing Magazines


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Learn more about fisheries and habitat conservation programs

Sport Fishing
This magazine features news, product reviews and events from the world of salt water fishing

Take Me Fishing
Plan a fishing trip

Fly Fisherman Online

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