Originally published by National Post, June 30, 2016
By Ashley Rae
It’s difficult to imagine what my life would be like today if I hadn’t had the opportunity to go fishing for the first time. Back when I was 5 years old, a family friend introduced my brother and me to the sport and that’s when I fell in love. I was extremely lucky to have this chance at trying something new, as my parents didn’t fish back then.
Throughout the years, fishing became my obsession, my passion and eventually my career. Today my life revolves around this incredible sport and I feel so fortunate. I am a freelance writer, blogger, seminar speaker and I’ve even been invited to host some fishing shows on television. In 2009 I started ‘SheLovesToFish.com’ to document my adventures, share information, and to inspire others to partake in angling. I especially hope to inspire more women to get involved with fishing!
Aside from the pure enjoyment of it, fishing offers amazing benefits to our environment and us! This is why I’m excited to tell you more about National Fishing Week. Taking place on July 2-10th this year, National Fishing Week exists to encourage Canadians to get outdoors and enjoy our angling heritage. Just like my own story, giving someone the opportunity to experience fishing can be life-changing. Spending time outdoors gives us a reason to care for our environment and resources, fostering a new generation of conservationists. What’s great is that fishing can be enjoyed at any age and it’s affordable for any budget. Some of my fondest memories include introducing children to fishing and seeing them land their very first fish, or getting together with my grandparents and fishing from shore as we relax by a campfire. In today’s busy society, fishing is a great way to disconnect from electronics and reconnect with family, friends and nature. There are known mental and physical health benefits to spending time outdoors.
If I asked you what the most popular sport is among adult Canadians, would you guess fishing? You better believe it! More adult Canadians fish then play hockey and golf combined. According to industry sources, over 8 million Canadians (over 25% of the population) enjoy recreational fishing, generating over $8 billion to the Canadian economy. Anglers have helped create jobs in the tourism industry as well as; transportation, retail goods, boating, vehicles, and more, to support their outdoor passion.
I’m often asked what my biggest or best catch is so far, and it’s a memory I am always happy to relive. A couple years back I was targeting musky for the afternoon and was just about to call it a day. My fishing partner and I were making a few more casts near the boat launch while waiting for another angler to finish up loading their boat. Throwing a large topwater musky bait in about 4-5 feet of water, I suddenly saw a massive wake gaining behind my lure. This monstrous fish took a swipe but missed my lure completely. I somehow stayed composed and kept retrieving at the same speed and the fish came up again, this time not missing it! This 50-inch musky caught on topwater has been one of the most memorable catches yet!
Today, with support from the fishing and hunting industries and like-minded conservation organizations, anglers and hunters dedicate millions of volunteer hours and dollars in support of fish, wildlife, and habitat improvement efforts (more than all other groups combined). These efforts also benefit non-game species. As governments tighten their fiscal belts, the efforts of anglers and hunters grow in importance to sustaining the future of our outdoor heritage.
To unite the nation’s 8 million anglers and to keep us up to date with current and potential threats affecting recreational fishing, the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association launched Keep Canada Fishing (www.keepcanadafishing.com). Their goal is to motivate anglers to take action on matters of importance to the future of fishing and conservation. Keep Canada Fishing reminds us that recreational fishing is a valued Canadian outdoor heritage activity and we each have a role to play to protect it for future generations.
To learn more about National Fishing Week and their contests and giveaways during this dedicated week, visit www.catchfishing.com. As a National Fishing Week Ambassador this year, I will be running some giveaways through my social media pages, which can be found by visiting www.SheLovesToFish.com.