The other day I had a chance to talk over dinner with a woman (and her friends) I have met socially a number of times, but only chatted with briefly in the past. She is probably in her 60’s, affluent, elegant, well-traveled. I was shocked to learn that she has hunted deer with a compound bow, and has been an avid fisherperson her entire life!

I heard stories about bone fishing in the Caribbean, rainbows in Alaska, trout in multiple US streams, trips to South America. She fishes in rivers, from skiffs, from the sterns of sailboats on the ocean. She knows her flies, which weight lines and rods to use and was delighted to share many anecdotes. I was mesmerized.

She explained that her father was a serious fisherman and made an effort to fish the major trout streams in America. She learned to fish as a girl and has pursued this passion for decades.

What interests me most is that I am so surprised, respectful and awed. Maybe it is because of my limited background in the outdoors…and none of the girls I grew up with in Miami Beach did any fishing…and most women I have known my entire life don’t fish either. There was one, a philanthropist I met near where I now live who grew up fishing, and when she heard that I was going to fly fish some years ago (one of the few times I tried the sport) insisted on giving me a lesson at her pond. She may have been in her early 80’s at the time, and it was a windy day on her estate, but there she was, casting away and instructing me about details to improve my own casts.

I have many men friends and acquaintances who travel all over the globe to test their skills in the water and rave about how wonderful it is to be silent and alone in nature. They often catch and release the fish, so it is completely the opposite of my hunting code to eat what I kill. My woman friend at dinner NEVER eats trout she catches. But then again, these fishermen and women take care with their hooks and make every effort to not hurt the fish they catch, before placing them back in the water.

Am I just a sexist, unable to grasp that women can be every bit as enthusiastic about fishing as men? Is it that from my limited experience with city women and middle-class country/rural women, I think most females–and I guess there are millions of exceptions from developed countries–just don’t seem to crave the outdoors as often as men do? Do I, deep down, think of women as the frail sex? I am not yet sure.

But I loved being challenged by what I learned the other day and was definitely jealous that I have missed out my whole life on the joys, excitements and love of fishing that my friend shared so openly with us. She is very very fortunate…

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