It’s a simple fact: When more ladies learn to fish, our industry benefits. Such is the case for the success of the latest "Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!” program held Oct. 23-25 at the Elks Lodge in Tavernier, Fla.
More than 40 aspiring anglers came to the weekend program, dubbed “Keys University” to learn from a team of angling pros. And judging by the myriad of catches, they’re quick studies!
The University kicked off on Friday with a meet-and-greet with Saturday boasting a full day of classroom presentations on offshore and bottom fishing techniques by Capt. Jeanne Towne, followed by inshore fishing skills.
After lunch, it was all hands-on fishing practices — including proper releasing and conservation, knot tying, bait rigging, spin casting, fly casting, net casting, gaffing grapefruits among others.
Saturday evening’s events included a silent auction followed by a party at Islamorada’s Seaside Glassworks.
On Sunday, participants embarked on a fishing adventure out of Whale Harbor Marina followed by a fish fillet demonstration. Even with some rough seas from a tropical system, the ladies caught 180 fish while releasing a whopping 101 more. They battled sailfish, mahi, wahoo, blackfin tuna, yellowtail snapper, king mackerel, tarpon, snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, sharks and more.
“It was the best day of my life!” exclaimed Jan Morris, a novice anger who was clearly not expecting to win the Top Offshore prize in Sunday’s “LLGF Fishing Fever” tournament.
Here are some results:
- Top Offshore Angler: Jan Morris, Rotunda West - 23.26 lb. wahoo on Sea Horse with Capt. Rick Rodriguez (2nd place offshore): Noelle Goulart, Belle Isle, 13.8 lb. king mackerel on Blue Chip Too with Capt. Skip Bradeen.
- Top Inshore: Noelle Goulart, 30.5 in. snook on Ankle Deep Charters with Capt. Jeremy Mathis (2nd place inshore): Anita Laico, Singer Island, 31 in. snook on Capt. Chris Hanson’s Scales 2 Tales
- Other notable catches included the release of two tarpon up to 40 inches and a 31-inch snook aboard Scales to Tales; Mathis’ Ankle Deep Charters led the ladies aboard to 9 snook, 4 jack crevalle and mangrove snapper; aboard Fintastic with Capt. Phil Leonard, his crew caught 3 snook up to 22 inches, one redfish, 16 mangrove snapper and a barracuda — the largest snook was released by Stacey Hammes of Berlin, NJ.; and the ladies on Dog House with Capt. Jesse Cromer boated 8 yellowtail snapper while Pam Ford of Weston caught a 28 inch cero mackerel and Dawn Miller caught a 25 inch king mackerel.
Since Betty Bauman created the “Ladies, Let's Go Fishing” Foundation (a charitable 501c3 organization) over 23 years ago, she has guided more than 8,000 ladies through the program in many different locations, promoting networking among women anglers and emphasizing mentorships.
I can attest to the impact a lady that likes fishing can have. My wife, Kay, loved to fish and when we got married, she urged us to buy a boat. We did and, in fact, owned 3 different boats before we bought our first house (much to the chagrin of my in-laws!)
Kay taught me to fish and she still holds angling as a top priority. Oh yes, we’re now on boat number 14.
Programs like Betty Bauman’s can have a meaningful impact on boat sales and usage. Often featured in national media, the LLGF series is supported by major partners deserving recognition. The largest annual sponsors include: Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation; Mercury Marine; Magic Tilt trailers; Shearwater Boats; Power-Pole; Freedom Boat Club; Sunrise Resort & Marina; the Future Anglers Foundation and Fish Florida.
Other local sponsors are Breezy Palms; Seaside Glass Works; Dog House Sport Fishing Charters; Calusa Cast Nets; and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.