Dear Ken: I live in the western suburbs of Chicago. Twenty years ago, when I was ten, my dad got me out fishing on the Fox River and some of its creeks. Over the years we've also fished a number of other rivers and creeks throughout Illinois. I don't want to call it an addiction, but I enjoy fishing these waters more than any other kind.
I have more time on my hands now and would like to get out fishing a lot more often than the couple of times a month I'm doing at the moment. Problem is, finding someone to go with me. Getting other women interested in fishing like this has been like pulling teeth and I've given up on them. My husband likes to go those couple of times a month, but doesn't show much interest in going more than that.
I've been reading your adventures out on the rivers and creeks over the years and you mentioned that you fish alone 95 percent of the time. I like your attitude about not having to rely on others to get out fishing and you just go when you feel like it.
Is fishing alone something you think a woman should do? From a personal safety standpoint, I've taken numerous self defense classes and feel confident that I can handle a confrontation if I need to. Is that enough and should I just go fish?
I am Woman,
Watch me Fish
Dear Fishing Woman: The short answer — Absolutely, go fishing alone, you'll be fine.
The long answer — It sounds like you know what you would be getting yourself into. As you know, getting out of a bathtub or driving that one mile for a gallon of milk can get you injured or killed. Your chances of that happening doing either of those are much higher than when you're out fishing. There is simply nothing about wading rivers and creeks that is all that dangerous. No more dangerous than a walk in the woods.
Well, okay, there was that time with the geese last year, but that was partially my own damn fault.
Since you said that you've been reading my adventures over the years, other than falling down now and then, you probably noticed that I've never mentioned feeling threatened by anyone. I attribute part of that to having grown up in Chicago. I have eyes in the back of my head and a sixth sense that lets me know when something isn't right, but even if I didn't have those, I've never felt in any danger from others while out on a river or creek, ever.
Thousands of hours in the water covering hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks without a single incident from another human being. I like those odds and think you'll experience the same.
You'll also notice I go to areas where my chances of even running into another human being are pretty slim. What difference does it make that I'm bush whacking through the woods by myself? There were no other cars around where I parked my car. I think it's highly unlikely that there is going to be some perv lurking a half mile away on the edge of a creek out in the middle of nowhere waiting for a lone woman angler to come wandering by. Chances are, if you do run into someone else, it's just another fisherman. Strike up a conversation, bid each other a good day at some point and head your separate ways. It's part of the fun.
As for self defense, that's a good thing to have under your belt. If you do get confronted, as long as they don't have a gun, anything goes at that point even if you have to use a branch as a club and beat them to death. It's you or them, I prefer them.
A little bit of research on where you want to go fish will help. Just avoid the more urban areas. Pervs love urban areas because it increases their chances at being, well, a perv. Fewer people, fewer pervs, that's just the way it works.
Speaking of pervs, since I grew up in Chicago, as a teenager I spent a lot of time on it's fringes hanging out in the Cook County Forest Preserves. Besides being party central for teenagers, the CCFP's are perv magnets and should be avoided at all costs. They're not so bad on weekends because there are other people that insist on visiting them, so you can take a chance then, but never during the week. I used to do it and put up with the pervs, but one day I reached the end of my rope.
Years ago I parked in one CCFP that has Salt Creek flowing through it. The parking lot was less than 100 feet from the creek. I hiked on shore up stream and fished my way back down to the car. The creek at this point had high banks and as I came up out of the creek at the parking lot, a guy was standing next to his car. His car door was open. He was standing there in his socks. Just his socks. Choking his chicken.
I will never go to another CCFP ever again because of that, even if it meant I had to give up fishing.
So go do it, get out and go fishing alone as often as you want. Make sure your husband knows where you'll be or at least have a general idea of where you are. Bring your phone and keep it on at all times. You'll be just fine.
Bring your camera and take lots of pictures. When you get home, jump on your husbands lap, turn on the camera, start showing him all the pictures of the scenery and wildlife and 18 inch smallies and say… "look what you missed…"
Ending "look what you missed..." with the words "ya jerk" is completely optional.
Sitting around a bar, drinking beer and doling out advice as long as it somehow relates to fishing, hunting or the great outdoors. Otherwise, I'm not all that interested.