Using her extensive experience to launch Ladyfisher, Dani Morey is keen to introduce as many ladies as possible to the sport of fishing
Dani Morey was taught to fish as soon as she could stand. Having seen other women sitting on the bank without the confidence to pick up a rod, she now runs Ladyfisher to encourage women into fishing.
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It’s all my grandfather’s fault. He went to an auction to buy some golf clubs, bid on the wrong lot and came home with a set of fishing rods. Years later, my father decided that a daughter could do anything a son could do and taught me to fish as soon as I could stand. I haven’t looked back. From those early days on his lakes, the chalkstreams of Hampshire and Dorset and on to the wilds of Scotland, I’ve been well and truly “hooked”. Despite having fished in a few exotic locations there’s nowhere that quite gets my pulse racing as casting a fly on the Spey.
Over the years I’d introduced many people to the delights of salmon fishing but more often than not it was my girlfriends who wanted to have a go but didn’t know how to go about it or thought that there was no way they’d ever be able to cast a decent line. I’ve seen countless wives and girlfriends sitting in a hut or on the bank watching and not having the confidence to give it a go. I started taking them aside, finding a quiet spot and giving them a few pointers. This grew until it reached the point where I had to put a business head on and “Ladyfisher” was born.
I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with some of the greats of the fishing world, not least Ian Gordon, and some brilliant gillies, including Robert Mitchell on the Macallan beat. They’ve encouraged me and given me opportunities that I could only have dreamed of. I’m now able to share those opportunities and the skills I’ve learnt through offering guided days alongside Ian, Robert and others, as well as on my own.
Historically, women have had great success catching salmon but it’s still perceived as a male-dominated sport. I love challenging this notion, proving to people that fishing isn’t just a sport for men or that they don’t have to have a strong stature to cast well. I’m 5ft 2in in my heels (rather less in my waders) and constantly tell people if I can do it, anyone can. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a long line will mean that they catch more fish but when it comes to casting, length doesn’t matter. Whilst covering more water won’t hinder you, it’s far more important that you concentrate on consistency, control and neat presentation than overstretching yourself. Patience, as they say, is a virtue, nowhere more so than on the riverbank, but it’s the anticipation, the belief that on the next cast the line will tighten, the reel will scream and the challenge to land a beast is on that keeps us all going. I get so much enjoyment seeing other people hook a fish, especially their first. To witness the concentration, the determination, the culmination of all those hours practising coming to fruition in one heart-thumping moment, that look in their eyes is the greatest prize of all.
Salmon fishing shouldn’t be intimidating for girls but knowing how to find fishing, what tackle to use, where to fish and how to cast can be. Seeing their confidence grow after a few hours of guidance is a really great thing. It’s not just sharing a passion of fishing but also a love of the countryside.
The downside to guiding is that it’s not all fair-weather fishing. There’s little glamour in wearing waders that, let’s face it, aren’t exactly cut for the female form and there are days in spring when you just can’t get warm, when there’s ice floating down the river bumping you as you wade, or freezing in the rings as you pull back line. I’ve had days standing in snow storms but there’s always the warmth of the hut and a welcome dram with friends waiting for you. There’s also the issue of coping with the infamous Scottish midge, although a small mesh net over the head works.
At the end of the day, if conditions aren’t right, the midges are out, the fish aren’t taking or you’re simply not enjoying yourself, there’s no shame in retiring to the hut for a break. It’s far more important to keep up the momentum of enjoyment otherwise beginners are never going to come back for more. A good sense of humour is vital for days when everything seems to be going against you. So, too, is a sense of adventure as you never quite know what nature’s going to throw at you next but none of it is ever unsurpassable and I consider myself extremely lucky to be doing what I do.
My father once told me that no-one ever looks back on their life and wishes they’d spent more time in the office. With an office as beautiful as mine, I wouldn’t ever want to be anywhere else – especially not a golf course!
TOP TIP: Don’t cast or wade beyond your comfort zone. Only compete with yourself. Always give a generous tip to the gillie if you want to be invited back.