Women Conquer Fishing Skills at Gulf Coast “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” University

Women Conquer Fishing Skills at Gulf Coast “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” University March 16-18 , 2012

Women came, learned and conquered fishing skills at the “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” ® Gulf Coast Fishing University for Women March 16-18 at the Naples Harbour Yacht Club. More than thirty women came from the local area as well as from Canada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Michigan and Massachusetts to learn fishing secrets from local, talented charter captains. Their reasons for attending were diverse. One widowed woman had a boat and yearned to participate in the sport she had enjoyed with her husband. Pamela Poland from Oklahoma and Michelle Nietz from Minnesota had just moved to Florida and wanted to learn specific techniques for Florida fishing.

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 the Harbor Financial Services networking reception at the Naples Harbour Yacht Club on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, local captains took a day off the water to help the women achieve their objectives. Presentations were made by Capt. Peter Root /Fly Fishing, Capt. Will Geraghty/Offshore Bottom Fishing, Capt. Jon Fetter/Inshore Back Country Fishing, Capt. Kevin Merritt/Basics and Heather Sneed/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/Conservation. At lunch was a speech from Ocean Conservancy and “Dress for Fishing Success” fashion show, detailing specific fabrics and designs for fishing comfort.

The seminar included tips on how to make fishing buddies. “If you have a boat, raise your hand!” asked Founder Betty Bauman during the class. “See who they are and go talk with them!”

During his Fishing Basics presentation, Capt. Kevin Merritt advised, “Should you go fishing when people say the wind is wrong or it’s too cold? Just go! Stick with the basics…shrimp with a small sinker. You never know…Dropping a ladyfish chunk into a school of fish can be like throwing a Twinkie into a Weight-Watchers meeting!”

Other local captains Paul Nocifora of Capt. Pete’s Bait & Tackle and Chris McCubbin joined the speakers to work with the ladies for hands-on skill practice, including conservation techniques and dehooking, spin casting, net casting with a Calusa Cast net, releasing, knot tying, hooks and lures, gaffing grapefruits, boat handling with Ranger, trailer backing with a Magic Tilt trailer, operating a Minn Kota trolling motor, Mercury outboard, Bob’s jack plate, Power-Pole and reeling against pressure. There was even a Harbor Financial Services table to help organize finances to purchase a boat in the future.

To complete the experience, a fishing trip on Sunday gave the women a chance to practice their newly-learned skills on the water. Each of the charter boats used for the Sunday Fishing Adventure returned with exciting fishing reports of ladies catching or releasing snook, trout, grouper, pompano, ladyfish, sheepshead, mackerel and more. An incredible range of inshore and bottom fish were caught during the five-hour trip. Fillet demonstration followed, as many women exchanged phone numbers with their new friends.

Featured on national network television and more, the series is held in conjunction with the FWC through the Sport Fish Restoration Program and supported by major partners such as Ranger Boats represented by Calusa Island Marina, Mercury, Silver Airways, Fishhound.com, Minn Kota, Magic Tilt and Humminbird. Annual partners included Bob’s Machine Shop, Harbor Financial Services, Power-Pole, Hook & Tackle, Eagle Claw, Tigress Outriggers, Pompanette, West Marine, Treasure Cay Resort & Marina and Bimini Big Game Club, a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort. Patron sponsors included Aylesworth’s Fish & Bait, Mary Kay, Sea Striker, Star Rods, Star Brite, Ventafish and Ocean Tamer. The Naples local sponsors were Ocean Conservancy, Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge, Naples Harbour Yacht Club and Calusa Cast Nets. Local businesses also contributed.

The 2012 seminar schedule includes South Florida/Ft. Lauderdale: April 20-22, Treasure Coast/Stuart: May 18-20 and Keys/Islamorada: Nov. 9-11. Contact: LLGF, phone 954-475-9068, fax 954-474-7299, email: fish@ladiesletsgofishing.com, website: www.ladiesletsgofishing.com, Facebook:www.facebook.com/ladiesletsgofishing

Naples Fishing Report, Sunday, March 18, 2012 – Half Day

Every charter reported fish and there were many happy faces at the dock. Seas were calm, with sunny skies and a light breeze. All of the captains were highly rated by the participants.

Grand Slam/Capt. Will Geraghty: Geraghty, the offshore and bottom fishing speaker, put his crew on 50 fish boated and/or released. The women netted sardines and herring before catching pompano, sheepshead, mackerel and jacks. Mary Ann Kriger, Bonita Springs, FL ‘queen of the pompano’. Jenni Coberly, Cocoa Beach, FL, who had not caught a fish since she was 10, was excited to catch several fish. The ladies learned more about hooks, fish, boats and were also inspired by spotting two bald eagles.

Capt. Chris McCubbin: Everyone caught plenty of fish, for a total of 40 caught and/or released. Karen Powell, Ackworth, GA described it as her first ‘real fishing trip where I could make decisions on my own.’ She also had a chance to practice net casting with the Calusa Cast net she won on the program’s auction. Barbara Perch, Estero, FL was dubbed ‘the fishing queen.’ McCubbin was a casting and hook instructor.

The Mistake/Capt. Peter Root — Root, the fly instructor, treated his ladies to an all-release trip with plenty of action. The women released 9 snook from 14 to 24 inches, 3 jack crevalles and 3 catfish. The ladies also caught and released mangrove snappers as well as witnessed juvenile porpoise, ospreys and raccoons. They practiced target and skip casting. Kay Semrod, Sarasota, FL used her new rod and reel she won on the auction. Capt. Pat Gould: Diane Wally, Naples, FL released a 27″ snook. Beth Boyce, Naples, FL released a 30″jack crevalle. Her motto was, ‘Be calm, breathe and don’t panic!’

The Alabama (group boat):
In Naples, the group boat was only for LLGF ladies. Each of the eight ladies caught fish, totaling more than 40 in the half day trip. They returned with four king mackerel in the 26-36″ range, snappers, and saw a huge 10 ft. bull shark. They released several grouper, one estimated to be at least 12 lbs. released by Sue Parker, Naples, FL. Kay Stenger, Mentor, OH caught her first fish ever, a grouper. “It was a great experience, lots of fun, great new knowledge and met some nice ladies!” commented Jan Hetherington, Naples, FL. Captain Craig and mate Bobby were rated as ‘absolutely great.’

Comments from participants:
“No dumb questions – can always keep learning!” – Sue Parker, Naples, FL
“Conservation starts with ME! – Sue Parker, Naples, FL
“I want my kids and grandkids to fish and I need to take care of the fisheries NOW!” – Jeni Rowell, West Palm Beach, FL
“Enjoyed being with positive people and learning about fishing and conservation!” – Kay Stenger, Mentor, OH
“The Friday party was a blast! Friendship and fish, lots of fun!!” – Beth Boyce, Naples, FL
“Fun, good karma and laughter!!” – Barbara Perch, Estero, FL

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