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  Articles of Interest
Lady Anglers Club Hopes to Lure New Members
By Rhiannon Potke

VENTURA, Calif. - The nine women meet monthly to discuss one of their favorite topics. They exchange recipes, hold workshops and commiserate over the ones that got away.

A local book club? A Tupperware party?

No. These women are members of the Gold Coast Lady Anglers, a women's fishing club based in Ventura County, Calif.

Co-presidents Jacquelyn Appell and Jeanne Zappia met on a charter boat in 1999 and realized they shared a passion for fishing. Wanting to meet other women with the same interest, they formed the club in the spring of 2001.

"We were just trying to get women together who enjoy a hobby and the friendship of other women," said Zappia, a 48-year-old chief financial officer and culinary student from Ventura.

The search for members, however, has proved to be a bigger obstacle than anticipated. Despite posting numerous fliers at local landings and tackle shops and informing people by word of mouth, the club has remained at the nine-member high-water mark.

Appell, who grew up oceanfishing with her grandfather in Long Island, N.Y., thinks the reason may stem from fishing being more associated with males.

"It is not a woman's sport. I hate to say it. It is dominated by males. It is just one of those sports that women aren't into," said Appell, a 52-year-old speech pathologist from Westlake Village, Calif. "Some women think it is awful to put bait on and take a fish off the hook."

Zappia feels that some women may be intimidated by the environment or are discouraged from attempting to fish.

"Maybe their husbands or boyfriends don't support it," said Zappia, who started oceanfishing in 1992. "For me, I think it would be just the opposite, that you would want to share in a common interest."

The Department of Fish and Game does not keep gender statistics of fishing license purchases, but a 1996 study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services estimated that in California, 20 percent of males fish and 5 percent of females.

Dave Wortham, captain of the Erna-B, estimates that he has about 10 to 12 women per week on his boat. Wortham is hoping to see that number increase.

"They (women) do a fine job. I'd like to see more of them get into it," said Wortham, who has had Zappia and Appell on his charters. "All of them have a good clue and they are not afraid to ask questions if they don't know."

Although Zappia is generally well received by male anglers, she has had a few negative encounters.

"Two years ago, I had a charter and I caught a 27-pound yellowtail and won the jackpot on the boat. The guy who was second was really mad and said, 'I have to go home and tell my wife I lost the jackpot to a broad.' That was irritating to me," said Zappia, who sports custom-wrapped pink-and-black fishing rods. "But most time the men are pretty supportive and fun to be with. I think some guys are amazed at how much we know."

Appell has also been exposed to differential treatment because of her gender.

"Sometimes on open party boats you get men who are rough around the edges. You get some who apologize if they curse and others who do it intentionally just to get a rise," said Appell. "But the ones I have encountered for the most part are really nice people. Some are very helpful and are really open with information that will help you."

The club hopes to expand to the point where it can charter a boat consisting of all female anglers (about 30). It also wants enough members to be able to hold charity events, such as fishing to feed needy families or raising money for underprivileged children.

Appell believes that fishing could become more popular with women if they are able to shed the perpetuating stereotype that women can't be feminine if they fish.

"It is a balance. I consider myself feminine," said Appell, who never forgets to wear lipstick when she fishes. "I am not grubby when I go fishing. I am wearing fishing boots and a pair of jeans. I feel that there is a perception that if you like to fish you must be a tomboy. But I am just a woman who likes to fish."


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