Women’s Fishing: It’s Catching On

Fishing Regulations Icon New York Fishing

New study results are in—almost half of new fishing participants are female.

The days of only men lining the streambank to catch a trophy fish are a thing of the past.

Even more telling is the fact that mothers are playing an increasingly important role when it comes to fishing participation. They see it as a great way to spend time with their children, one of the primary reasons people go fishing. Not to mention, it’s an activity that can be shared by everyone regardless of their age, gender, or ability.

Hesitant to give the sport of fishing a try?  Here are solutions to some of the more common concerns of beginning anglers.


I’m not sure how to handle bait or live fish.


Pick up a pair of utility gloves with rubber palms. They’ll help you grasp a fish and protect you from the spines some fish have on their fins. You can also get a firm grip on a worm or other live bait you may be using. If you’re uncomfortable using live bait, there are synthetic baits that smell like and resemble the real thing available wherever fishing equipment is sold.


I’ve never been fishing, and have no clue what I’m doing.


Attend a free fishing clinic near you. These programs are designed with the beginning angler in mind. Basic casting instruction, identifying your catch, and fishing regulations are just some of the things you can learn. The best part? You don’t need a fishing license to participate, so it’s the perfect time to give fishing a try. To find an event, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27123.html.


I’m not sure what gear to start with and concerned about how much it will cost.


There are plenty of entry-level products to get you started without breaking the bank.  A basic fishing rod and reel combo from a sporting goods store can be purchased for under $20.  Even better, try fishing with someone who can let you borrow a rod before you make a purchase.


I don’t know where I can go fishing.


New York is fortunate enough to have a ton of great fishing opportunities, often pretty close to home. Check out DEC’s website under our Places to Fish page and plan your fishing trip today.

Any other questions or concerns? We want to help…email us at fwfish@dec.ny.gov.

Meet these featured female anglers and learn what they love most about fishing. Hopefully, their stories will inspire you to get out on the water!

RACHEL FINN– renowned fly fishing guide

  1. What got you into fishing? My partner, Jeff Kirschman, got me into fly fishing.
  2. What’s your favorite part about fishing? My favorite part about fishing is definitely the people you meet and the bond you share from your experiences…I met some of my best friends through fishing.
  3. What advice would you give women who want to get into fishing? Women are the fastest growing group in the fly fishing industry! I would encourage women to join their local Trout Unlimited group. TU has a fantastic Women’s Initiative program that has educational and conservation opportunities. Also, local fly shops are great resources for anglers.
  4. What is one of your favorite fishing moments? My favorite fishing moments would have to be my 10 years of guiding in Alaska. I guided week-long rafting fly fishing trips in Bristol Bay. The fishing and scenery were top notch!

Contact Rachel: flyfishing@hungrytrout.com, www.hungrytrout.com

SUSAN WINTER – avid angler and wildlife artist

  1. What got you into fishing? My first fishing experience as a young child, sitting on the edge of an ice fishing hole peering down into the black abyss. From that day on, I knew I was hooked on fishing for life!
  2. What’s your favorite part about fishing? The chance to see nature. The opportunity to use my camera as a wildlife artist, and recipes like lemon-butter-dill trout and pike nuggets in the deep fryer that taste like walleye.
  3. What advice would you give women who want to get into fishing? Pick up an inexpensive kayak to start out with. Keep an eye out for fishing seminars at sportsman’s shows. Surf the DEC website for fishing clinics. Contact your local DEC office for advice on where to go.
  4. What is one of your favorite fishing moments? Catching my first trophy-sized kayak bass. This largemouth jumped twice, then buried itself deep in the thick milfoil bottom. I thought to myself, with butterflies in my stomach, “How am I going to get this fish out?” With calm resolve, I started pumping my Berkley rod a little at a time until the fish finally broke free.

Contact Susan: swinter@myfairpoint.net, www.winteroriginals.com

LINDSAY AGNESS – avid fly angler and guide,
Project Healing Waters and Casting for Recovery (CfR) volunteer

  1. What got you into fishing? I started spin fishing as a young girl at my family cottage on the Finger Lakes in upstate NY. My grandfather would fish with us kids for perch, bass, and walleye on weekends during the summer.
  2. What’s your favorite part about fishing? I’ve always loved the water with all its peacefulness and tranquility and the effect it has on me. When I’m standing in the water fly fishing, I feel calm and enjoy all the nature and beauty around me.
  3. What advice would you give women who want to get into fishing? Just go for it. The technique of casting a fly rod has nothing to do with strength, but rather timing, which any woman can master. Fishing in general, especially fly fishing, should be on the bucket list of every woman who enjoys the outdoors! Even Oprah Winfrey and her best friend, Gayle King decided to try fly fishing and they had a blast! Fishing can be a lot of fun!
  4. What is one of your favorite fishing moments? Lisa, a former CfR participant, was new to fly fishing. We arrived at Oatka Creek, rigged our fly rods, and climbed down a steep hill, quietly entering the water. It was a beautiful sunny morning when, sure enough, little trout noses started to show themselves on the water’s surface. The trout were sipping Hendricksons (mayflies) all around us. I quickly grabbed my fly box, and tied on a Hendrickson dry fly to the business end of Lisa’s line. Lisa was out of her mind excited and began to cast her fly rod and line in the direction of the rising trout. Before I even made my first cast…Lisa was SCREAMING with delight upstream as her rod bent and a beautiful brown trout was splashing in front of her! I quickly waded back to her as she excitedly reeled in her first fish on a dry fly. That day…that moment…that smile…will be forever ingrained in my mind.

Contact Lindsay: lindsay.agness@rochester.rr.com, www.lindsayagnessflyfishing.com

Barb Elliott – Vice President/Secretary- Salt City Bassmasters, Conservation Director for the New York B.A.S.S. Nation

  1. What got you into fishing? When I was a kid, my family was blessed to have the opportunity to spend summers at ‘camp’ on a lake. We spent days exploring nature, rowing boats all over the lake—and FISHING. Fishing with anything we could get our hands on. My tackle box included the obligatory bobbers/hooks for worms, a Rebel, Hulapopper, and a Jitterbug. My brothers and I spent long days plying through every inch of that lake—hunting anything that would bite our meager line of tackle. EVERY catch was exciting and taught us something new. After an adult lifetime of responsibility as a dairy farmer, selling the cows afforded me the luxury of time. That time rekindled my interest in fishing—which very quickly turned back into the same passion I enjoyed as a child—after an almost 45-year absence!
  2. What’s your favorite part about fishing? Time on the water—no matter if spent alone or with someone—is what I enjoy the most. There is so much that goes on. One never knows what one will see. From the plentiful wildlife that live above and below the water’s surface, to nature’s gorgeous artistry—it all contributes to the fishing experience. In this day of electronic/digital saturation, I find being out on the water akin to an ‘active’ sort of meditation. One can be so focused and in-the-moment, the stressors of reality and the virtual world melt away.
  3. What advice would you give women who want to get into fishing? In these days of YouTube, there is nothing stopping anyone from learning the basics of getting ahold of a fishing rod and basic tackle and the knowledge to get out on the water and wet a line. The majority of my experience and knowledge has been self-taught. Time spent on the water experimenting will be your best teacher. If one were interested in advanced fishing techniques, there are organized bass fishing clubs all around the state dedicated to fishing and having tournaments throughout New York. The tournaments are set up so each boater takes another ‘non-boater’ out on the water for an 8-hour tournament day. No knowledge of fishing and no boat is necessary! Although you will need the basic equipment and some money to enter and help defray the boater’s fuel expense for the day (each club has different rules) but you get to spend time with an experienced angler that you can learn from. It was where I started—co-angler in a local bass club.
  4. What is one of your favorite fishing moments? Most of my time on the water and my best moments have been shared with my fishing partner, who also happens to be my husband. It is something we enjoy doing together. Fishing is a fantastic whole family activity. There have been a few especially memorable moments. Participating in the annual Take a Soldier Fishing (TASF) held on Oneida Lake every spring leaves a lasting impression in my heart every year. Boaters from all across the state get together and take out active service members from Fort Drum. Providing a worry-free day of recreation for the people that keep our freedom safe never gets old. It is an honor I cherish every year. For personal best times, I participated in a B.A.S.S. Northern Open on Oneida Lake as a co-angler and placed 13th out of 200—I even won some money that time!! No one’s review of a fishing career would be complete without acknowledgement of their “personal best.” My personal best largemouth bass was angled out of Lake Fork, Texas—an 8½ -pound beauty, caught on a swimbait. I think the echoes of my excited utterances are STILL bouncing around off the shores of that lake! Personally though, my angling addiction resides with the smallmouth bass. The license plate on my care reads ‘FISH4SMB’. That pretty well spells it out.

Contact Barb: farmelliot@gmail.com

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) and Beyond BOW programs teach outdoor skills to women of all ages and backgrounds.

Our programs are designed for women 18 and up who have little to no experience with outdoor activities. We provide them with information, encouragement, and hands-on instruction in a fun and supportive environment. Our fall workshop is a three-day, multi-course event with over 40 classes to choose from, including basic fishing, fly fishing, archery, shotgun and rifle shooting, kayaking, hiking, camping, nature photography, boat and trailer towing, hunter education, and much more. We also offer Beyond BOW opportunities throughout the year, which generally last 1-2 days and focus on a single topic such as shooting at a range, kayaking on a local lake or river, camping, or archery.

The 2019 BOW Workshop will be held September 13-15 at the YMCA Silver Bay Retreat in the Adirondacks. Registration opens in June 2019. For more information on our BOW workshop or Beyond BOW events, visit our webpage at https://www.dec.ny.gov/education/68.html or call 518-402-8963.