The ladies of carp fishing answer their critics and explain why they think carp fishing is no longer a male-only sport.
Carp fishing has long been perceived as the pursuit of man versus beast, but times are a changing, and banks up and down the country and across Europe are progressively being adorned by more and more anglers of the fairer sex.
Admittedly, this may not be news to some, and those avid readers of Carp-Talk will be used to seeing ladies holding fish within our pages, but how seriously have you taken those catch reports?
I’ll be the first to admit that I often found it difficult to believe women could share the same passion for carp fishing as men. I just assumed the gene that makes so many of us men the obsessive types was lacking in women, but in retrospect, I’m embarrassed by my ignorance.
Having noticed the increasing number of lady carpers in print and seen the progression of boss, Bev Clifford, as an angler, I decided to find out more about female carpers and try to work out just how many considered themselves exponents of the sport. I also wanted to hear about how they find being a woman in a male-orientated sport and what it’s like being stereotyped.
I soon realised I had underestimated a women’s touch when it comes to carp fishing, after being inundated by responses to a brief post on Facebook. Each lady was desperately keen to get their view point across and explain their belief that carp fishing is a sport that crosses both genders. So, this is their opportunity to have their say and answer some of the criticisms, aspersions and assumptions often directed towards them
Ladies, it’s over to you…
Years carping: Three
Greatest carping achievement: Finishing second at the Carping-4-Cancer charity event.
Carp fishing has been in my life since the day I was born thanks to my dad (Kevin). I have worked in the industry since I was 16 and have met some fantastic people who are some of my closest friends. I think it was only a matter of time till I became addicted to carp fishing and once I had finished living the party life and needed something else to fill my spare time, fishing was the obvious choice – it’s in my blood after all!
It may sound daft, but carp fishing is actually everything to me; it’s not just a hobby that I love, it is also my livelihood. I love getting out on the bank to enjoy the peace and quiet, chill out and hopefully catch a few fish along the way.
Admittedly, you sometimes get the odd strange look on the bank or a bloke who thinks you are just the girlfriend tagging along if I’m fishing with a mate, but that’s not a problem – it just makes me giggle. I go fishing for myself and to enjoy it; if they don’t like it and think women don’t belong on the bank, then tough. I met some great women anglers when I fished in the World Catfish Classic on the Ebro last year and we certainly proved that women have got what it takes to fish alongside men.
Fishing, to me, is about enjoying it; you set your own targets and that’s what you work towards. If anybody thinks women aren’t capable of doing that they probably don’t think we are capable of much!
Years carping: Five
Greatest carping achievement: Despite being told I shouldn’t expect to catch, I bagged The Big Linear at 39lb from The Woolpack and got on the front cover of Carp-Talk.
I got into carp fishing courtesy of my boyfriend, Aaron, who said to me: “I go fishing every weekend, so if you don’t like it you can get lost.” So, I thought I’d better try it, and once I caught my first carp I was hooked – the adrenalin rush was amazing.
Carp fishing now means everything to me – it’s a fantastic way of getting away from life’s stresses and strains. I love the sound of a carp crashing in the distance and not knowing what’s going to happen next, and the thought of not knowing what’s on the end of your line when playing a fish – it’s incredible.
Though it’s easier to get noticed in carp fishing if you are lady, I think some men see us as a threat, which can be annoying. Some people think we don’t have a clue and are just there to hold the other half’s carp, but I tie my own rigs, cast my own rods, have my own ideas and fish my own swim. It would be nice if we could be seen as equals.
That said, some men are great on the bank, and we can talk fishing and have a bit of banter for hours, but some women don’t help themselves and attempt to portray fellow women as just objects. That annoys me because I’m passionate about my fishing and never allow a picture of me to be taken that can be perceived as ‘page 3’.
Women will always struggle to cast as far as men – that’s unavoidable – but when it comes to everything else, we are on a level playing field, and some men should try to remember that. Let’s not forget, some men are better than women at baking cakes and housework!
Years carping: Six
Greatest carping achievement: I’ve fished a daunting 80-acre reservoir for the past four years and have struggled until recently, when I landed two fish during a day session. I was lucky enough to observe the larger fish take my hookbait, a fish that turned out to be a beautiful mirror.
I started fishing as a child before getting back into it properly as a teenager, when every time I went I just wanted to catch bigger and bigger fish, so carp fishing was a natural progression for me.
I know I have missed out on a lot in life because carp fishing plays such a prominent role, but I wouldn’t change that for the world. I love spending days on the bank and getting lost in my own carp-fuelled world.
Admittedly, it’s not always easy being a woman in carp fishing: I’m never far away from the odd stupid comment while on the bank, and it’s annoying when people think I’m just there keeping somebody company. I also think we can often be misrepresented in the media; I’ve got no problems with women taking their clothes off to bump up sales of a product men are silly enough to buy, just so long as she is an angler, otherwise what’s the point of her being there?
Come on, fellas, judge me on my capabilities as an angler before you judge me on the fact I’m a woman!
Years carping: One and a half
Greatest carping achievement: A 29lb mirror.
I grew up around carp fishing with my dad and brother, but never really had any interest in the sport until I met my boyfriend, who is an extremely keen angler. I didn’t really understand how much was involved until I went on a few sessions with him. I instantly wanted to try things like making rigs and casting just to see how easy or hard it was. I love a challenge and am determined to make my mark as a female angler.
Working in the city, I find carp fishing as an ideal way to get away from a demanding job – being able to sit by a beautiful lake for me is heaven. There is so much to explore and skills to perfect, so fishing is never the same two days over.
As a female angler, I personally get a real mix of reactions. I’ve been in the position where a male angler has come over to say well done and that it’s great to see a female enjoying the sport, which is a really lovely feeling. Contrastingly, I have had strange looks walking to my swim and a group of lads staring at me while I cast and set up, which can be really nerve-wracking. I don’t let looks and comments annoy me; I choose to shut people up by fishing hard and enjoying what I came to do.
If people think women aren’t as capable as men they should stop being such a noddy, do their research into the world records and stop being so ignorant. Here’s another message for them: watch this space…
Years carping: Eight
Greatest carping achievement: Winning the big-fish event in 2011 (Check text)
I was introduced to carp fishing through my partner and I used to accompany him when he went. One day while my partner was playing a fish, his second rod tore off and I was allowed to hit it and play the fish for him. The feeling I had while playing it was immense and I was instantly hooked. I started buying fishing magazines and books to improve my knowledge and it’s grown from there.
As a female it’s nice to be able to let my hair down, climb trees to spot fish and get my fingernails dirty. I like the challenge of trying to locate fish and the feeling of accomplishment when succeeding is one I haven’t experienced doing anything else. The fact that I get to travel to different fisheries targeting carp and also going abroad and fishing other countries is an amazing experience.
I don’t see a separation between genders when it comes to positive elements of fishing as we all love the sport for the buzz that is so addictive. I also get a lot of feedback from anglers for getting on the bank, as they all say they wish their partners were as keen and would go with them. I think my partner loves that I’m keen to travel and fish and spend our holiday time with the rods out. I can’t see the point of sunbathing in front of water without the rods and the chance of a lump or two!
I find it can be a little bit demeaning when I go into some tackle shops as it’s hard to get taken seriously. I find they assume I’ve never fished before as I usually get pointed in the direction of the pre-tied rigs, which is funny really as I’ve never ever used them. They assume I can’t tie my own rigs, but they should see my chod – it’s crazily effective!
I go fishing to catch, not to be perceived as eye candy or a joke. I think there will be some women out there who understand the sport better than some men and vice versa, but one thing’s for sure, I think us girls have some catching up to do before we are featured evenly throughout the press.
Hometown: Padworth, Berkshire
Years carping: 12
Greatest carping achievement: I guess it has to be last year’s capture of The Brown Fish at 84lb from The Graviers, closely followed by The Birthmark Linear, my first UK forty, in 2007
I owe my love of fishing to a lad at work who kept pestering me to try it, so I relented and went along and caught a 19½lb mirror. Needless to say, I was hooked after that and the obsession began.
Carp fishing to me is a matter of life and death; I just have to be on the bank. I find it so relaxing after a long week at work and love the myriad of wildlife you get to see – only recently I had a beautiful stoat in my swim.
I love being able to promote female carping and I am very fortunate, on all the waters I have fished, to have always been treated as an equal by the lads. I know some lasses who have really been misrepresented in carp fishing, but hopefully they can rise above it.
As far as I’m concerned, there are some female anglers out there far more capable than men – there are two of us who have caught carp of more than 84lb! So, I’m afraid, boys, the message is simple: we are here to stay!
Hometown: Littleport, Cambridgeshire
Years carping: Five
Greatest carping achievement: The first would have to be catching my first carp, followed by my UK and French personal bests of 23½lb and 41¾lb respectively.
I got into carp fishing by simply watching fish while walking my dogs by a local pit. A week later I was casting my new rods out!
Carp fishing is my hobby and an opportunity for some time out. I am a mother of four and, though I love being a mum, my home life is demanding. When I’m bank side, my thoughts are my own – going fishing is like going off to your own little world.
Sadly, there are many negative aspects of being a female carper. You have to learn to get used to the lack of respect shown by men when you’re fishing and you have to stand your ground sometimes. I’ve spent many a time by the bank watching men fish and have been horrified by the things I’ve seen!
Being a woman in a male-dominated sport leaves you open to a lot of criticism and the slightest error can result in a whole torrent of abuse, yet if a man does it, it’s acceptable! Yes, I’ve cast into a tree before and yes, I’ve been so hasty to get my rod out I’ve gone to cast and realised I haven’t flicked my bail arm over, but I have never fished in a situation that could harm a fish, lose my rods or annoy a fellow angler (apart from out-fishing them) and I never will. If women can be trusted with the responsibility of running a house, cooking, cleaning, bringing up children and managing the household budget, why on earth can’t we fish?
Now that more women are taking up carp fishing, it would be great to be approached by the industry for our opinions and ideas; we’re not brainless bimbos and I truly believe it would encourage more women to fish. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see a whole new pink range being introduced – I couldn’t think of anything worse – but how about asking for some more feedback from us ladies? Also, to all the numerous carp magazines out there, how about cutting out the adverts with scantily clad models? Come on, guys, us women fish too and we buy the magazines!
Hometown: Bath and Norwich
Years carping: One
Greatest carping achievement: Catching my first-ever carp on my own-tied rig.
Certain family members were always keen to get me on the bank given my tomboy ways and carp fishing quickly became an obsession.
I love the challenge and the unknown of what a session on the bank can bring because, when it finally pays off, those hours of preparation and lack of sleep are so worth it when things finally come good and the fish is resting nicely in your hands.
I think, like most male-dominated sports, women do suffer from a lack of respect, simply because of their gender. However, I also can relate to many male anglers who have given me nothing more than respect and advice to help me achieve those angling dreams. I’ve been fortunate to meet some great friends from my local tackle company who often escort me on overnighters to ensure my mind is set only on the noise of the buzzers.
Regardless of your sex, age or demographic, carping is carping and we are all on the bank for the purpose of pursuing our passion. My passion is fishing, as is everyone’s reading this – I don’t think my gender should ever play any part as to whether I am capable or not. You put the effort and time in and the rewards will soon be in your net.
Hometown: Eastbourne, East Sussex
Years carping: 15
Greatest carping achievement: There are many: my personal best, the creation of the Carpgirls website, earning recognition in the industry and becoming a fully qualified angling coach.
I wish I had been attracted to carp fishing much earlier in my life, but I feel now I am making up for lost years. I went fishing with my dad at a young age, but didn’t find carp fishing until I was older and wiser and could appreciate everything so much more: the peace, tranquillity, solitude, surroundings, the beauty of the fish and the challenge of outwitting them.
Carp fishing for me is the complete package; it has many different avenues and paths you can choose to venture down. I liken it to a game of chess, when you try to outwit your opponent using different rigs, watercraft skills, bait, etc.
Admittedly, my friends think I’m mad and struggle to understand why I want to spend hours bivvied up on the bank in all weathers when I have a comfortable, warm home. But why not? Carp anglers get to share some very special moments and see some of the best sunrises and sunsets Mother Nature has to offer.
I’m also very lucky to be able to share my passion for carp fishing with my other half; we enjoy spending time together fishing and sharing our bankside experiences.
Being a girl in fishing, I get recognised and remembered everywhere I go, which hopefully isn’t only because I’m a girl but also because I’m good at fishing and have honed my skills to a good level. I would like to level the playing field and lead the way, making a clear path for the next generation of female anglers to follow behind me.
I do sometimes have to break down invisible barriers when arriving at a lake. You can feel eyes staring at you, wondering what on earth you were doing on the bank, but those barriers never last long when I prove I can barrow a ton of gear to my swim, set up, cast out and catch fish. However, having to prove yourself at first sight and be immediately judged can be annoying. That said, these days I have to say I feel much more on an equal footing and rarely feel any eyes or cold stares.
Check out my website (www.carpgirls.co.uk) and come and meet us ‘Carpgirls’ – we would be happy to fish with anyone who has doubts in a girl’s fishing capabilities!
Hometown: Eastbourne, East Sussex
Years carping: 12
Greatest carping achievement: Catching my personal best of 35lb 5oz about 15 minutes after casting out.
Elaine, my better half, introduced me to fishing. Once we had covered the course-fishing lakes locally, we both felt that fishing for carp was the way forward.
I must admit, we did used to feel quite intimidated turning up at new venues, feeling as if we had to catch to prove the point women can be a part of the angling scene. However, I think now that we, and ladies, are perceived more so as equals on the bank, but that is just a personal point of view. What does annoy me, though, is when women anglers are perceived as needing to own pink rods, reels, sleeping bags, etc., and wear skimpy bikinis while cradling a carp. Not all girls are into pink, just the same as not all blokes are into blue!
The only disadvantage we have over men is probably our height and strength for casting, but otherwise we are equals in every sense of the word and expect to be treated as such.