Based in Ottawa, multispecies angler Ashley Rae first started catching walleye when she was just five years old at a family friend’s lodge on Lake Kashwakamak near Cloyne, Ontario. “Getting to spend time fishing there are some of my fondest childhood memories,” she says. “That’s where my passion for fishing was sparked.”
And it’s that kind of enthusiasm for the sport that not only drives the 34-year-old’s popular blog, freelance writing and social media marketing business, but also her successful tournament fishing career. Now, Rae is planning to inspire and teach other women to fish through her new guiding service, Ladies Learn to Fish. We asked her about her angling philosophy, and how best to introduce beginners to fishing.
Rae says that she’s mostly drawn to fishing because of the adrenaline rush it gives her. “For me, there’s nothing as thrilling as landing a big fish, checking off a new species or achieving a new personal best,” she says. “I feel the same level of excitement even when I’m sharing in on someone else’s accomplishments on the water.” And that excitement, she says, rubs off on newcomers to the sport.
Rae started her guiding business in the fall of 2018 as way to introduce more women to fishing. “My focus is on teaching women, but I’m excited for the opportunity to get families out on the water in the process,” she says. “So, it may not always be an all-female crew aboard, but I’m perfectly okay with that. It’s not about dividing men from women, but rather encouraging more women to get involved.” Rae says patience, communication and understanding are key when teaching others. “I aim to create an environment that ensures guests aboard my boat are comfortable to ask any questions, and feel confident in trying new techniques without any intimidation, or fear of judgment.”
With new anglers, Rae says, it’s important to take things slowly so they can better absorb all the information. “Start simple and don’t overcomplicate things,” she says. “Having them jump in too quickly without learning the basics first can make for a frustrating experience.” Rae also counsels beginners to take advantage of the many angling resources now available. “Cruise the internet, read articles and blogs and watch videos on YouTube,” she says. “Chat with fishing friends, join a local club and talk to staff at your local tackle shop. The fishing community is pretty amazing and there are many wonderful people out there who are happy to pass on their knowledge to help others catch more fish.”