I recently spent a day riding along with the new WOA fishing team, and believe me, you’ve never seen a tournament fishing team like this before – WOA stands for Woman’s Offshore Alliance, and this team is 100-percent female. How did I come to be on their boat? They invited me along to spend a day with them and shoot some video during their tournament debut in the world’s largest billfish tournament, the White Marlin Open (you can see the Team WOA video here). And what a debut it was.
Now, we should say right up front that they didn’t win the tournament. With the first prize hauling in an amazing 1.6 million dollars, if they had, I’m pretty sure the party would still be raging. In fact they didn’t catch squat, but neither did most of the boats. A series of storms had turned over the water, and where a week prior there had been 80 degree clear blue water, there was 70 degree pea-green water. Not exactly ideal, for billfishing. Nor did this team run like a well-oiled machine. It was only their first time competing together, and everyone hadn’t really settled into their specific jobs just yet.
All of that said, however, these five ladies impressed the heck out of me. They rigged their ballyhoo, moved around dredge rods with Penn International 130’s and 120-squid teasers, and at the end of the day they washed down the boat from stem to stern with zero assistance from the many guys who offered. What’s more important than how many fish they caught, however, is what they’re trying to do: get more women involved in fishing and boating.
No, I’m not trying to get all warm and fuzzy on you, people. The lack of female participation is actually a big problem in the fishing and boating industries. According to industry stats about 29 million women currently fish and boat, but a whopping 68 million are interested in these activities. Why don’t they participate? Because fishing and boating are seen as men’s sports. WOA plans to change that perception.
Trust me on one thing: simply meeting these gals will change your perception. One of them is a full-time charter boat mate, and another is a commercial fisherwoman. Lest you think fishing is, in fact, just for the guys, check this out:
That’s Woman’s Offshore Alliance team member Shannon Ehinger, after “a pretty good day of fishing”. Well.
For more info on WOA, you can check out their Facebook page.