Why so many record fish caught by women? John Archibald, our resident Bad Fisherman, considers the facts.
Are women better fishers than men? Are they just luckier? Or is there some other reason why so many record fish are caught by women? John Archibald, our resident Bad Fisherman, considers the facts.
A 20-year-old woman, Kirstin Hole, has just obliterated the record for the largest freshwater fish ever caught in the UK when she landed a 7ft-long, 120lb catfish at the Oakwood Park fishery in Norfolk.
It took her an hour to land the monster and it needed three people to help weigh it. Now here’s the interesting part – her fiancé, Lee Pollard, a professional angler, was also fishing with her, but it was the lady that caught the fish, not the ‘expert’ male angler.
The UK record for a rod-caught salmon, 64lb, was set on 7th October 1922 by Miss Georgina Ballantine, who was fishing with her father, a ferryman on the Glendelvine stretch of the River Tay. This fish took over 2 hours to land. She was fishing a small Dace as live-bait.
The UK record for the largest salmon caught on a line and fly is held by Mrs Clementina Morrison, who caught a 62lb monster in the River Deveron in Aberdeen shire on 21st October 1924 fishing a ‘Brown Wing Killer’.
The UK record for a Spring salmon is also held a by a woman, Mrs Doreen Davey, who caught a 59lb salmon from the River Wye in March 1923.
In September of 1927, Gladys Huntington took four hours to land a 55lb salmon from the River Awe – it had been foul-hooked on the back of the head so was much harder to play. Then, in autumn of 1928, Lettice Ward caught a 50lb salmon on the Kinnaird beat, again from the River Tay
None of the above records is likely to be broken in a hurry, if at all, given the effects of over fishing of both river-bound salmon and the krill they feed on in their Greenland feeding grounds, pollution and global warming.
And tales are legion in the various fishing magazines of mad-keen fishermen being regularly out-fished by their less practiced wives and girlfriends. Interestingly, no man claims to have been out-fished by his mother-in-law.
Testosterone v guile
So, are women better fishers than men? Many a ghillie will tell you that men are often driven to cast as far as they can – it’s a macho, testosterone-driven thing – with a subsequent loss of control of the fly, so it does not ‘swim’ as well as it should.
Women on the other hand are more likely to cast shorter lines, well within their envelope of competence, thereby gaining greater control of the fly and more likelihood of inducing a ‘take’. There is certainly more chance of hooking a taking fish on a shorter line than on a longer line.
Most big salmon caught are ‘cock’ fish, so some say it’s the smell of a woman’s pheromones that attracts the male fish, perhaps passed to the fly or bait when tying it on to the line.
Science has proven that fish do smell; it is after all how salmon return to the exact same stream to spawn that they themselves were born in, which is, if you think about it, a staggering feat of navigation.
Also they must respond to the female salmons’ own pheromones or else they wouldn’t breed. So it does not take a huge leap of the imagination to convince yourself that the female pheromone is the key to angling success.
One contributor to a well-known fishing magazine has even tried tying salmon flies that include his wife’s pubic hair!
Whichever way you look at it, given that only one in ten anglers are female, it does seem extraordinary that so many records are held by women. So pick your own theory.
Me? Being a Bad Fisherman, I’m going for the pheromones and a sex change.
Catch up with John Archibald on fishing