Ladies Fishing Opportunities in the Panhandle Region With Capt. Pat Dineen

In my area, fishing is a huge recreational sport and there’s a lot more women involved in fishing than most people realize. We have some incredible female anglers in this area, and a lot of women’s and female Jr. angler World Records have come from my region.

Whether the ladies that get out on the water are hardcore anglers or just out to spend the day on the water and catch a few fish, there’s a couple of things the male anglers need to take into consideration before they leave the dock. The main concerns should be bathroom accommodations, toning down the language or “Smack Talk” and not asking them to handle tackle or gear that is above their physical capabilities. Pay attention to these three things, and the gals can hang with the guys. 

If there’s one rule that seems to hold true to fishing, it’s that if there’s a female angler on board your boat, she’s going to catch the biggest fish. I’m not sure why, they must have fish magnets in them, but that always seems to be the case. This may sound wrong, but I think they tend to take direction better then males, maybe because they don’t have a preconceived idea about how to target a specific fish.

Any time there’s going to be a female on board my boat, I try to make sure the trip is very respectful of her abilities and needs. I’m not saying the ladies can’t hang with the guys, but I think you have to take into consideration more factors like the fact that women don’t tend to have the upper body strength that men do, so you don’t want to hand them the heaviest tackle on the boat. Instead, give them the rod and reel that they will be more comfortable using and is more geared toward their size and physical capabilities. You wouldn’t hand an 80 pound grouper rod to a 120 pound male, so don’t hand it to a female the same size.

There’s this preconceived role of the males as hunter/gatherers, so they tend to overdo it when it comes to fishing with females and want to take the lead. Women are just as capable of driving the boat, anchoring and putting out baits, so respect that and include them in the routine and you’ll always have an extra hand to help out. And don’t think they can’t fish with the best. I’ve fished with some experienced women anglers that can throw a fly or cast a plug better than the majority of the males I fish with.

That preconceived role of the male doing and leading the fishing has led to some women not getting as involved in fishing as they’d like. Many of the female anglers I run into started fishing with their father, and would like to fish more, but they don’t have the right person to show them the ropes. For those anglers, there are some good options in my region. 

 For the inexperienced females looking to learn more about fishing, there are some local tackle shops, like Half Hitch Tackle and North Light Marina in Niceville that have fishing seminars every month that they can attend and learn more about targeting specific fish species, and then there’s the Emerald Coast Seminar Series which is run by a couple of guys out of Pensacola that also runs monthly seminars. A lot of the tournaments will have seminars at their Captain’s Meetings, as does a lot of the boat shows. Attend the seminars, and learn from the pros the ins and outs of targeting a specific fish as well as some of the better locations, and then you can go fishing on your own. 

One of the biggest women’s fishing educational organizations and clubs was started in Pensacola by Claudia Espenscheid and is called Fishin’ Chix. They hold tournaments, have gatherings and set up clubs for women around the country. You can learn more about the Fishin’ Chix from their website at www.fishinchix.com.

Just about every tournament in my area has a ladies division. The Destin Fishing Rodeo runs the entire month of October and has a ladies and teen divisions that regularly draw big crowds of female anglers. For those ladies that are serious about tournament fishing, the Pensacola Big Game Fishing Club’s 35th Annual Pensacola Ladies Billfish Tournament runs August 8-10 out of Lost Key Marina in Perdido Key. That event is for female only teams, and more information can be found on their website at www.pbgfc.com.

One of the biggest sources of fishing information in my area is the Pensacola Fishing Forum, an Online website dedicated to fishing, diving and hunting in my area. The people on that site are generally there to share their experiences and to learn more about the opportunities in the area, and it’s very female friendly. You can learn more about the Pensacola Fishing Forum at their website at www.pensacolafishingforum.com.

The last thing I will say is that women should never feel intimidated to go fishing, whether that’s surf or pier fishing, wade fishing or fishing out of a boat. It’s a great way to experience our natural surroundings and the true beauty of the area, and the only way for anyone to get better at the sport is through experience and time on the water. 

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