Teach a Family to Fish
More than 18 years ago, when Texan friends Pat Picco and Patti Polensky started fishing together, they found almost no apparel or gear tailored to women. They didn’t find other women out fishing, either.
“We thought there have got to be other women who want to go fish,” Patti says. So, in 2004, they founded Texas Lady Anglers to offer saltwater fishing seminars, trips, tournaments and networking opportunities for women anglers at every level of experience.
At their first seminar, one woman showed up with a spinning-reel rod, a bait-caster reel and rubber boots, all provided by her boyfriend.
“We said, ‘Those things don’t go together,’” Patti says. “Then we showed her how to put the right things together. Just having someone to lead the way, to give support … now she can go out there and do it.”
Pat says the sole purpose of their group is giving women, girls and anyone else a safe place to learn, experience fishing and build their confidence on the water.
“We’re fighting the stereotypes, changing the mindset that we aren’t capable,” Pat says. “We saw women who, the only time they got to fish was when they were invited along by a brother, husband or boyfriend, and now they’re running their own outfit.”
Early on, they received important support from mentors.
“Once we decided to do this, supporters came out for us, early advocates. We can’t say enough about them,” says Pat. “There were strong trailblazing women ahead of us. We’ve come a long, long way, and I’d like to think that we had a lot to do with that, at least on the Texas coast.”
Major obstacles include providing information for women that isn’t intimidating and finding equipment designed for them. The two say they have seen improvement there, with lighter rods and rods with tapered ends for smaller hands now available. The clothing industry also has come a long way during the past 18 years.
“Trying to find a pair of waders that fit was impossible back then,” Pat says. “We bought a lot of men’s fishing shirts.”
Why should women fish? There is more to the sport than merely catching a fish, both women say.
“Being outdoors takes away the stress of the ‘concrete jungle,’ even just for a few hours,” Pat says. “Landing a fish is gravy on top. But yeah, I want to catch a fish bigger than everyone else’s.”
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