Anne Woodcock's passion for fly-fishing is infectious, an enthusiasm she is able to pass on through her roles with FishPal and Ladies Fishing UK
It all started with a fishing taster day with Northumbrian Water. Now, Anne Woodcock runs Ladies Fishing UK, inspiring more women to fish with her infectious enthusiasm.
For more sporting Dianas, seriously sporting ladies offering advice and encouragement, Sarah Kate Byrne is a Diana of the Chase with a ‘have a go’ attitude to fieldsports. And Dr Nina Krüger has a PhD in molecular biology.
In my twenties I used to go scuba diving on wrecks in Cornwall and while waiting for the tide we would drop a line for pollack and cod. I became interested in fly-fishing in 2006 after a visit to the River Spey, watching anglers gracefully cast a double-handed rod. It looked so relaxing. I come from a family that enjoys country sports but no one went fishing. But a chance came with the arrival of a water bill from my local water company, Northumbrian Water. It was promoting its fishing taster days. I promptly booked myself onto every taster day; they told me no one had ever done that before.
Sitting in Northumbrian Water’s car park and mustering up the confidence to get out was the best thing I have ever done. I felt so much better when I was on the water, physically and mentally. I had found a passion that improved every aspect of my life.
Over the years, I’ve fished for game, coarse and saltwater fish. My biggest carp weighed in at 46lb and a notable spring salmon weighed 20lb. But salmon are my passion. I have been inspired by the women who hold fishing records: Georgina Ballantine and her 64lb salmon caught on the Tay in October 1922 changed the record books; Clementina ‘Tiny’ Morison, whose Deveron fish on the fly weighed in at 61lb in 1922; Doreen Davey’s 59½lb spring salmon from the Wye in March 1923; the Ward sisters, too, with Lettice Ward’s 50lb Tay fish in 1928.
People have often asked: “Why do women tend to catch bigger fish?” Men have capitalised on the theory that pheromones are the reason. It is still a subject of fishing banter with fellow rods – male and female. The main reason women catch more fish is because they listen to their gillie and don’t put out an extra 50yd once his or her back is turned. Male readers will be pleased to note that we have not been as successful with trout records.
In 2009, I created Ladies Fishing UK, a not-for-profit organisation that runs fishing days for women, in an attempt to get more women involved in the fishing world and encourage them to take part. It is such a passion of mine that I wanted to share it with as many others as possible. We have put on fishing for salmon and trout, from beginners to more advanced days, fly tying, fish filleting and conservation work, too. Many of our events are charity ladies’ days, and they have always been over subscribed. Women want to fish and over the past nine years we have introduced hundreds of females and young people to the wonderful sport of fishing.
I enjoy working with angling groups, fisheries and fellow women, sharing best practice on ladies’ events and helping them set up their own ladies’ days to raise money for good causes. The more ladies fishing the merrier.
For the past two years on Saturday mornings I’ve been promoting fishing and women on a show called Gone Fishing, with Sam Harris MBE, on CVFM Radio. I am also thrilled to play a part in the latest phase of This Girl Can’s campaign to encourage more women to go fishing and re-engage with the sport.
I’ve been employed as the marketing director of FishPal since 2010, to promote brand recognition of it as the ‘go to’ fishing company. Through my job at FishPal I have been able to create the Junior Malloch award, which encourages more young anglers into fishing and also educates them on the benefits of catch and release. I must have one of the most rewarding jobs in the fishing industry, the opportunity to speak with customers and suggest places to fish. Many say that they would never have had access to a fishery if it was not for FishPal.
For details about ladies’ events in 2019, including free Saturday tuition sessions on casting and fly tying at Orvis Kelso, go to: www.ladiesfishing.co.uk
TOP TIP: Wear a life vest. If you are unfortunate enough to fall in and get washed down the river, wearing a lifevest may just save your life. Your chest waders don’t fill up with air and keep you afloat! All your waders do if you are wearing a properly fastened wading belt is reduce the speed your waders fill up with water. Please don’t be macho and ignorant when you are wading a river and wear a lifevest.
The hooks we use when salmon fishing tend not to have the barb removed. Please wear your glasses and a hat, which not only protect you from the sun’s rays and the glare off the water but will save your eyes and head from hooks during a stray cast.