The ABC's of Fishing

By Patricia Strutz - November 1, 2006
Want to learn how to catch more fish? Go to school! Here in Wisconsin we are blessed with thousands of bodies of water to wet a line on. Many of us grew up learning to fish from our parents or grandparents, but, not everyone is that lucky. As a fishing guide, I meet many anglers new to the sport. This is particularly true with women.

How is a gal supposed to learn to jig for walleyes or troll for salmon? The Badger State hosts a myriad of "female-friendly fishing schools" which provide the opportunity to learn to fish for a variety of species.

First, for ladies looking to attain their sea-legs I would highly recommend enrolling in a boater's safety course. Many communities offer these classes or visit www.dnr.state.wi.us to find a course conducted by the Department of Natural Resources. These forums will cover regulations, navigation lights, personal flotation devices, traffic rules and much more. They will help make the novice angler more comfortable and secure in a marine environment. The DNR also hosts angler education courses and fishing clinics. They often hold walleye fishing clinics in conjunction with Walleyes Unlimited. Check out their website for a complete listing of courses offered.

The Wisconsin based international organization, Becoming an Outdoor Woman (BOW), conducts workshops throughout the year which center on teaching outdoor skills. In the fishing arena, BOW workshops regularly include fly fishing, panfishing, boat trailering, and boat driving courses. Special weekend BOW events, called Beyond Bow are also offered. My friends from Wolf Pack Adventures in Sheboygan, WI (Captains Roy Kalmerton and his sons Jerrad and Patrick) have partnered up with BOW to offer salmon charter packages on Lake Michigan and ice fishing schools on Lac Vieux Desert. These outings are lots of fun. Contact BOW for more info on events held in Wisconsin as well as the other 49 states: 1.877.269.6626, www.uwsp.edu/cnr/bow/

One fishing school venue I can personally attest to are WOW! Women on the Water Fishing Trips. They are based out of Eagle River, Wisconsin, and hold educational (and FUN!) trips in their hometown area (the beautiful Northwoods) as well as Minnesota and pristine Canadian wilderness lakes. I instruct at these outings and highly encourage any women interested in learning how to fish to consider participating. Bring your own boat (we'll help you learn how to drive it) or use a camp boat. It is truly a mission of mine to get more women out on the water, and these trips are the perfect way to accomplish this. These are multi-species schools, so you can chase smallmouth bass, jig for walleyes, or hunt for the mighty muskellunge. Expert educators provide Powerpoint presentations, where-to discussions, how-to demonstrations and constant monitoring on the water. This adds up to a safe adventure and to angling success-no matter what your skill level.

There are different types of trips: all-women's, couples, and "unisex." Along with world-class fishing, we sprinkle in campfires and cookouts, so it's a perfect getaway for both husband and wife. Ladies, come learn how to back up your boat without your husband yelling at youÂ…come experience the thrill of landing a big musky! For complete 2007 itinerary, visit www.ablondandherboat.com

Fly fishing is a popular sport among women and husband and wife duo Tim & Sarah Landwehr have teaching this skill down to a fine art. They offer introductory courses in fly tying and fly fishing. Items covered are equipment selection and proper use, knots, reading the water, entomology, and hands on casting practice. Sarah is a superb casting instructor and a certified guide. You will learn how to tie basic flies such as the Wooly Bugger and Elk Hair Caddis. Courses are offered in Depere, near their Tight Lines Fly Shop. Upcoming plans include schools in southwestern Wisconsin near Westby on the Kickapoo River. Call (920) 336.4106 or visit www.tightlinesflyshop.com for a complete schedule.

Another fly fishing option is offered by Professional Fisherman Roger LaPenter. Headquartered at Angler's All Sport Shop on beautiful Chequamegon Bay (in Ashland), LaPenter hosts an annual smallmouth bass fly fishing school on these world renowned waters. Pound for pound, smallies are some of the world's scrappiest fish. Enjoying the tenacious battle and then watching them swim away as you release them back into the water is one of life's simple pleasures. La Penter also runs a trout school at historic Franklin Lodge on Trout Lake in Woodruff. A large variety of equipment is provided, so you'll get to try out lots of different gear. Intensive on the water instruction of casting is the focus, with daily seminars on knot and fly tying, entomology, and the basics of "how to approach fly fishing on lakes and streams." Contact Angler's All for complete information, (715) 682.5754.

Lastly, if the amount of electronic equipment on your boat confuses or frustrates you, sign up for one of Bill Dietrich and Doc Samson's classes. Offered during the winter months, these two pros handily explain the fundamentals of how to use and understand your sonar and gps units. Menus and settings, emulators and viewers, waypoint management, map building, and integration of mapping programs are discussed in detail. If this all sounds like a foreign language, don't worry! After a full day of instruction, they'll have you using and analyzing log chart data like an old pro. Visit www.hightechfishing.com for updated schedule, or call Bill Diedrich at (952) 935.5764. Courses are offered in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Signing up for a fishing school is a step in the right direction for any angler looking to increase their knowledge and success. A school's atmosphere fosters an incredible sense of camaraderie. After experiencing unparalleled glimpses of nature--black bears swimming nearby, eagles soaring overhead, and loons welcoming extraordinary sunsets with their plaintive cries--participants leave renewed and invigorated. Couple these restorative qualities with your new found knowledge and skills, these educational trips mark the experience of a lifetime!

Author Patricia Strutz
Patricia Strutz
Patricia Strutz, "A Blond and Her Boat", is a musky fishing zealot whose energy and enthusiasm for the sport is contagious. Her true passion is row trolling for 'skies in late fall. She offers traditional casting packages, too. Strutz also works with other pro's to offer group fishing trips to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. Check out the WOW! Women on the Water page for complete details. Patricia especially enjoys teaching other women how to hunt muskies. She is an outdoor writer,co-inventor of the Sea-View Marine Shield, instructional DVD host, and may be booked to give presentations on musky fishing to interested groups. www.ablondandherboat.com