“WOMAN” is a magazine that TRM’s fishy reports would not normally quote from, but the latest edition has some hot news about trout fishing – headed “Keeping it reel” by Sue Hoffart.
SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed manages everything at TRM) was astonished to discover the fourth para of their five-page feature article mentions – quote: “In 2019, Tongariro River Motel launched an annual women-only tournament on the Tongariro River, at the southern end of Lake Taupo. The event offers substantial prizes and attracts an increasing number of entries each year.”
Thank you to Taupo Fishing Club President, Shirley Fraser, for the mention. But it is what else she says in the article that needs wider circulation amongst trout fishos and fishing clubs. I cannot imagine any of our usual TRM inmates rushing out to buy a copy or risk being seen buying magazines for women, so the following is a direct copy (I hope we are allowed?) from the article which will be of interest to all trout anglers… it is too good to ignore. Following the two top images of Shirley are other TRM photos of women trout fishing, just to show there are many more involved than most realise…
“I use fly fishing every day as part of my recovery” says Taupo Fishing Club President, Shirley Fraser. The 62 year old mother of four was diagnosed with cancer several years before a friend convinced her to try the sport.”From the first cast, it was an addiction. It’s an awesome way to de-stress; you’re not thinking about anything else.”
When she joined her local club to learn the art of fly fishing, Shirley was one of only a handful of women among 60 members. It didn’t take her long to join the management committee alongside 11 men and, five years later, males are outnumbered almost three to one on that same committee.
As the club’s first female President, Shirley oversees 130 members, with five of the club’s 43 women regularly placing well in national competitions. Several travel from neighbouring districts to fish in Taupo’s trout-laden waterways, and under Shirley’s watch, the Taupo Club has created female-focused courses for beginners and paired newcomers with other women, supplying gear and offering casting lessons and social events. The club has also raised funds to pay entry fees for women competing at a high level, and women are encouraged to look after the places where they fish, to collect any discarded rubbish near waterways and help with pest control programmes.
Shirley admits to using the odd cunning ploy to tackle the gender inbalance, too. When asked to address several hundred women with a one minute promotion of her sport, she knew what to say. “I told them someone had told me it was better than sex – I got 30 ladies to turn up at our beginner classes! They saw we were just a really fun bunch of women.”
A former pony club and Playcentre president who has lived in the area for about 40 years, Shirley says colleagues from other regions have been quizzing her too. “It’s about lifting the profile and giving women a pathway so they feel more comfortable. It’s about getting women into top roles, being proactive and making it fun. We have a system where we take them out to help them learn and pair them up with a buddy. For women, the social side of things and the support is a huge thing.
There’s always been women fly fishing – the Queen Mother fished in Turangi – but you don’t hear about them. It’s been totally male-dominated (except at TRM!) but it’s got a lot better. In the fishing shops, they used to say (if they even talked to you) “what are you buying your husband?” Now they’re excellent. They stock stuff for women – waders, boots, shirts.
“I do want to see younger women out there. I’ve been trying to get my nieces and daughters into it. It’s good exercise and good for the soul.”
Thank you Shirley – what a wonderful story. The rest of the article is about another remarkable local lady, Libby O’Brien who works for DOC – Department of Conservation are the Taupo Fishery managers. Recommended reading for all trout fishos!