Women and Catfishing
by Brad Durick
Guiding women on a catfish outing is always fun and rewarding
The women I know who like catfishing don’t just like it, THEY LOVE IT!
It’s no secret that catfishing has the reputation of being a man’s sport, but that reputation is changing. There are a few women in catfishing and that number is growing for sure.
Over the years I have guided just about every demographic you can imagine but many of the trips that are memorable are when women and girls come with me.
Many women who end up in my boat are wives or girlfriends. They probably came along for the ride. Catching fish is exciting to them but more often than not the day starts out with the proclamation, “I am not holding one of those ugly things!” I will let you in on a little secret–they usually do before the trip is over.
I recall one couple in particular. It was one of my first years in business and they had joined me for an evening on the river. The trip was a birthday present from the girlfriend to the boyfriend. It was made very clear from the start that she would not be holding any fish.
Well, the first fish of the day was a true monster. She was hooting and hollering while fighting the fish but when it got in the net she would not hold it. Finally, after both the boyfriend and I had tried to get her to hold it he picked the fish up and said, “Then I will hold it and tell everyone I caught it.”
She almost pushed him out of the boat to get the fish, held it tight, and smiled wide for the camera.
Another time, a family from Iowa visited me for a couple days. The mom made it clear that she was not touching a fish. Well, after her eight-year-old daughter caught a big cat and held it proudly for the camera, mom, not to be outdone, had to change her tune and hold a catfish too.
In both of these cases the women survived and had a great time on their fishing trip.
Fishing with Little Girls
I especially enjoy fishing with families that bring little girls along. I like it because they tend to have a lot of fun. Also, I suspect that if they experience some success they will probably grow up to be a woman who fishes.
Little girls, like the one mentioned above, seem to be afraid of fighting the fish and the rod at the start but quickly get over that. They are so fearless when it comes to touching and holding the fish that it is amazing. In my experience, little girls tend to be less skittish of fish than many teenage boys.
Young girls, before they are 13 or 14, tend to show pure joy when they are into a fish. They enjoy cutting the bait and putting it on the hook. They pet the fish and when it comes to photo time they generally just give it a big hug that makes a great photo.
One thing I have noticed over and over through the years is that when females hit the age of 13 or 14 years old they become “girls” as I call it. They all of a sudden become grossed out by cutting bait or putting it on the hook. This is clearly society at work. The ones who are serious about fishing will quickly get over it but it is always fun to call them out on the boat. I remind them that they were cutting suckers the year before and now scared of them.
When the Woman is the Angler
There are other women who visit me because they are the angler and the husband is the one who is along for the ride. These women know the routine, but in most cases do not have boats of their own.
These women are always fun because they are just so happy to be on the water and catch fish. They show the big fish who is boss and get right in there to hold them and smile for the camera. The real treat of fishing with these women is unlike most days of guiding. They are the ones who are telling the fish stories of their travels and what they caught. This is proof to me that fishing is not gender specific. We should be taking girls fishing as much as boys. Fishing creates a lifetime of great memories no matter who you are.
Older women who are 60 plus are interesting to fish with. Many of them loved it throughout their life but they tend to say the same thing. “It was a man’s thing so I stayed home.”
I remember my grandma talking about fishing a couple times and how much she loved to go. But she understood it as what Grandpa and his brothers did together so she stayed home with the kids most of the time.
It seems a shame that more women didn’t go in the past. If they had, we might have a more equal representation of women in the fishing ranks today. It was simply not what they had been taught. What matters most is that they still enjoy it and still go fishing today.
One woman that I enjoyed fishing with was 82 years old when she first fished with me. I’m not going to lie, I thought I was going to lose a rod on this trip. The day was cold, windy and raining. This woman could not raise her arms high enough to put her hood up.
What I perceived as a lack of strength was why I was thinking I would lose a rod that day. When her turn to catch a fish came up all I could think was, “here we go.” I had to help her off her chair and hand her the rod with what felt like a big fish.
To my surprise she set her hip into my console and proceeded to kick that fish’s butt. She fought that fish and laughed while doing it. She caught five or six more that day laughing louder with each one. She went on to tell stories of taking her kids catfishing back in the 50s and going herself as a little girl during the depression. She talked of running homemade hoop nets in the stream just to catch fish to feed their family. Her fishing trip brought back great memories of her past.
At the end of the trip she threw her arms around me and said she had not had fishing like that in over 20 years. Complements from women like that make this job totally worth it.
Women who fish are very special. Sometimes you don’t know what you will get guiding women for catfish. But many of them get in, get dirty, and have fun. It is nice to see more women getting into catfishing.
Captain Brad Durick is a nationally recognized catfish guide on the Red River of the North, seminar speaker, and author of the books Cracking the Channel Catfish Code and Advanced Catfishing Made Easy. In 2018 he started Adventure Catfishing from kayaks. For more information go to www.redrivercatfish.com