US fishing diversifies as women, Latinos become increasingly hooked
By Ana Mengotti
Miami, Sep 8 (efe-epa).- Not so long ago fishing was thought of as an activity exclusive to men. But statistics show that those casting a line off the piers in Miami are increasingly diverse.
Of the 50.1 million people with fishing permits in the United States last year, 17.9 million were women, the highest figure since records at the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) began.
The RBFF has a campaign called Take Me Fishing, which looks to promote fishing as a recreational hobby.
Latino people accounted for 4.4 million permit holders, with some regarding fishing as a sport and others as a more affordable way to feed the family in times of economic hardship.
“Some women don’t fish because they think it is a men’s thing,” Arlette Oliva, a young Cuban woman tells Efe, her nails long and painted and her shirt covered in blood stains from the little fish she uses as bait.
Without taking her eyes off the end of the rod, she says that so far no man has approached her to tell her this isn’t her place and that she would not stand for it if someone did.
Marjory Rodríguez is fishing from a pier under the bridge connecting Miami with Key Biscayne. She, too, is Cuban and has been fishing for 20 years, she tells Efe.
“Women do everything better than men,” she says, winking to her husband, with whom she is very competitive. “That includes fishing,” she adds.
In her home city of Matanzas in Cuba, she used to fish out of necessity.
“Now it is my hobby,” she adds.
The bucket belonging to Marjory and her husband contains more, larger fish than other women casting their line from the same pier.
“It’s a question of luck,” she says, before adding “and knowledge.”
The majority of those fishing on the pier around Marjory are Latino. Most of the conversations are held in Spanish and the beat of reggaeton is ubiquitous.
The RBFF said that its Take Me Fishing campaign encouraged an additional 100,000 Latino people to apply for a permit in the space of a year.
Other women around Marjory include Fátima Rojas, who is from Managua and wears a headband emblazoned with the word “Nicaragua.” She says she is not squeamish when it comes to handling live fish.
However, Francy, a Colombian woman a little further down the pier, is and says she calls her boyfriend over to help remove the animals from the hook and drop them in the bucket.
Marjory says it comes down to an individual’s level of “finesse.”
For others, fishing has become an outlet to escape the claustrophobic limitations imposed to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic.
That could be one of the reasons why 2020 has been such a positive year for the RBFF.