Ladies School the Fish at South Florida “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” Seminar


Nearly fifty women came from many walks of life to learn fishing secrets from the pros at the “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” South Florida Fishing University April 20-22 at I.T. Parker Community Center, Dania Beach, FL. Not only did the women learn in classrooms, they had a chance to practice fishing skills, network and go fishing offshore to test their new fishing knowledge on the water.

The women came for many reasons. Rebecca Richmond, Hollywood, FL fell in love with fishing and had dreams of being a commercial fisherwoman. Patricia Throo, Miramar, FL came to learn how to catch fish instead of the bottom. Michelle Matteoni, Ft. Lauderdale, FL who had only fished in freshwater, had saltwater fishing on her bucket list.

Some women traveled a distance to learn. Belinda Martin, a business owner and tournament director from Turks and Caicos, came to learn more about fishing to help her business endeavors. Linda Bankovich and her daughter Leah Waller flew in from Latrobe, PA to learn how to catch the big ones in South Florida.

Known as the “No-Yelling School of Fishing,” this award-winning fishing university series for women, held in conjunction with support from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), kicked off with a networking reception on Friday evening. Dania Beach City Commissioner Bobbie Grace greeted the group and Starbrite’s Bill Lindsey made a presentation on boat care.

On Saturday morning, presentations were made by Capt. Lee Lavery/Fishing Basics, Capt. Ariel Cabrera/Fly Fishing, Capt. Tony Digiulian/Offshore and Bottom Fishing, Capt. Lou Volpe/Inshore Fishing and Gina Russo/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/Conservation.

At the Pollo Tropical lunch was a “Dress for Fishing Success” with West Marine fashions, Hook and Tackle, Cape Fear and Crocs. Dr. Shapiro of Tribeca Medaesthetics made a presentation on Sun Protection.

Local captains and LLGF South Florida chapter members worked one-on-one with participants to practice conservation techniques and dehooking, spin casting, net casting, releasing, knot tying, gaffing grapefruits, trailer backing with a Magic Tilt trailer, boat handling on a Ranger boat, lure rigging, hook usage and reeling against pressure. “I came to learn knot tying and conquered it!” exclaimed Karen Schofield, Englewood, FL.

To complete the experience, a fishing trip on Sunday gave the women a chance to practice their newly-learned skills on the water. The charter boats came back with exciting fishing reports of ladies catching or releasing blackfin tuna, bonita, wahoo, sailfish and trigger fish. The women also benefitted from learning to catch bait fish in front of a ship anchored near the port. “The stand-up fish fighting techniques came in handy for releasing my sailfish!” exclaimed Belinda Martin, Turks & Caicos who was exhausted after fighting a large fish for a half hour. Camille Miske, Plantation, FL was excited to catch her first fish ever, a blackfin tuna, adding, “I can enjoy a day out with choppy waters and not get sick!”

Featured on national network television and more, the series is held in conjunction with the FWC through the Sport Fish Restoration Program, with major partners including Mercury Outboards, Ranger, Silver Airways, Minn Kota, Humminbird, and Magic Tilt Trailers. Annual sponsors were West Marine, Bob’s Machine Shop, Power-Pole, Hook & Tackle, Eagle Claw, Tigress Outriggers, Treasure Cay Beach Marina & Golf Resort and Bimini Big Game Club, a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort. Class sponsors included Fishmasters Inn/Alaska, Pollo Tropical, Costco, Bottoms Up Beverage, Duffy’s Sports Bar, Grampas Bakery, Star Brite, Tribeca Medaesthetics and I.T. Parker Community Center. Fundraisers helped raise donations for the Message from Marli Foundation for ovarian cancer. Graduates are eligible to join a South Florida LLGF chapter to continue learning at meetings and participate in fishing trips.

The LLGF 2012 remaining schedule includes weekend universities in Stuart May 18-20 and Islamorada Nov. 9-11. Registration Includes instruction, use of equipment, hands-on training, networking reception, fundraisers, meals, goody bags and more. Sunday Fishing Adventure, with tackle and bait provided, is additional.  Contact: phone (954) 475-9068; email;, Facebook

South Florida LLGF seminar fishing report, April 20, 2012 half day:

The women were lucky to get their fishing in between two cold fronts. The rain held off until they returned. Seas were fishable and skies were sunny for the most part. South Florida is an amazing place to fish – in only 4 hours the ladies caught bait and had enough time to fish offshore.

Lady Pamela – The women were proud of catching the bait used for fishing, seven blue runners in total. Janet Day, N. Miami Beach, FL caught a 15 lb. bonito. Dawn Bogess, Rotanda, FL caught & released a bar jack. Other fish caught were two blackfin tuna in the 2-3 lb. range and several bonito. They hooked into a 30 lb. wahoo but lost it at the boat.

Lady Pamela II – Diana Hunt, Ruskin, FL caught her first blackfin tuna ever. Ellen Bolen, Washington, DC caught her first fish ever, a bonito. Adriana Mejia, Miramar, FL caught a 3 lb. blackfin tuna. The other women caught bonito and everyone caught fish.

Big Game – Fishing in 100 ft. of water with live bait and kites, the Big Game had a double header sailfish bite, with Melanie Lee, Miami, FL and Belinda Martin,Turks & Caicos reeling in their first sailfish ever. The sails were estimated at 74 and 96 inches. A third sailfish was lost. They also learned to catch bait.

Catch My Drift – The ladies sharpened their bottom fishing skills in 60’ of water where Debbie Bjorndalen, Sunrise, FL caught an 18 in. ocean tally on a sardine. There was a lot of excitement when one of the people on the party boat released a sailfish. The women were excited to see it jump. The ladies commented how exciting it was to see the various fish species caught.

Comments from participants:

“You’re never too old to learn something new!” – M. Dornau, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
“Good, practical info given with informative background facts – You rock!” S. Tolliver, Plantation, FL
“I can’t wait to put all I learned into practice!” – L. Harber, Ruskin, FL
“I learned to de-hook without harming the fish!” – D. Hunt, Ruskin, FL
“Presenters were so enthusiastic about fishing!” – D. Calhoun, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
“Enjoyed learning ballyhoo rigging from Captain Lee Lavery!” – D. Quon, Tamarac, FL
“Great opportunity for women who have never fished AND women who have fished their entire life!”- R. Richmond, Hollywood, FL

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