Belfast Telegraph

Introductory course aims to attract more girls into taking up fishing


By Robert Jones

An initiative has been launched to encourage girls and young women throughout Northern Ireland to take up the sport of angling.

Ballyclare's Straid Fishery and Turnaface Fishery, near Magherafelt, will host introductory courses on Sunday, January 28 from 10am.

Ray McKeeman, manager of the Straid Fishery and recently appointed coach at Turnaface, said: "'These events are specifically to encourage females into angling because there are so few in Northern Ireland who fish compared to the numbers of men involved.

"To encourage the very young girls who will be learning, there will be angling instruction available for their parents and guardians as well. This will hopefully encourage them to continue fishing as a family unit."

Madeleine Kelly, who has been a member of the Irish Ladies Flyfishing Team on 20 occasions and who captained the team six times, added: "I read an article in The New York Times in December 2017 which talked about the lack of female anglers in North America and why the angling industry there, especially fly-fishing, must look to women in order to grow.

"I was surprised when the article stated that 31% of the 6.5 millions anglers in the US are female. In my opinion that's already a huge number but there is now a goal to have an even gender split by 2020.

"If it's possible to have 31% of anglers in North America who are female or even a 50/50 split, then it must be possible to encourage more females in Northern Ireland to take up angling where the percentage of anglers who are female is very low. It would be great to see more females involved."

Sharlene Brown, a dental receptionist from Newtownabbey who has been learning to fish since last year, said: "There's something about getting out on a river or a lake and catching a fish on your own.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed it and have met fantastic people and made good friends. I look forward to learning a lot more."

The events are open to girls aged six and over, and to young women aged up to 25, but those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or a guardian. All equipment will be provided but participants should wear waterproofs, warm clothes and sturdy footwear, preferably Wellingtons.

For more information about the tuition days, including costs and information about complimentary licences, contact Ray McKeeman on 07984 975850.

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