Brittany Hall-Scharf, a UF/IFAS Extension Marine Agent, conducted a two-day workshop for women aimed at teaching them about recreational fishing and various aspects of fish in general. The workshop was designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the fish world, covering a variety of saltwater and freshwater species and featuring an in-depth look into fish biology. This allowed the participants to gain a clear understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of fish in a simplified and engaging manner.
“My overall objective with the workshop was to introduce women to fishing and the equipment available. It can be overwhelming when you walk down an aisle just to pick out a hook or intimidating when it comes to attaching a hook to your line and adding bait. My goal for this workshop is to alleviate some of that anxiety while also providing information about the fish they are targeting and the habitats in which those fish are found,” Hall-Scharf explained.
On Thursday, the attendees were taught a range of basic fishing skills, including assembling their fishing rods, knot tying and casting. Gyotaku, a creative exercise that fishermen used to record their catches in ancient Japan, was also part of the session. The participants learned how to use traditional inks to create prints of fish, which they could take home as a souvenir.
Friday’s adventure involved visiting the Bass Conservation Center in Webster to learn about fish conservation and to test the fishing skills they practiced at the Extension Office the day before. The participants were able to experience firsthand the conservation efforts that are undertaken to protect Florida’s marine life, as well as the scientific techniques that are used to study fish populations.
“Each of the participants demonstrated a high level of confidence in implementing the skills we had covered during the classroom during Friday’s fishing adventure. AND! I was delighted when I overheard our youngest participant locate the lateral line on the catfish that was dangling from the other end of her line,” Hall-Scharf said. “I was also amazed at how far some of the attendees traveled to participate—two ladies drove all the way from Jacksonville, Florida, to take the class!”
“I also do not want to take all of the credit for the success of this fishing workshop. The UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Office has a great partnership with FWC’s Bass Conservation Center, and Friday’s fishing adventure would not have been possible without their knowledgeable staff and facility.”
Hall-Scharf developed her love for fishing at the age of five and has since been actively engaged in educational activities for people of all ages to learn about Florida’s exceptional marine life. Her passion for fishing and marine biology is evident in her teaching, and participants in her workshops leave with a newfound appreciation for the wonders of the aquatic world.
“I know that I can geek out about fish, but I was thrilled to share my passion for fishing along with my quirky fish facts with others who truly appreciate it. The Women’s Fishing Workshop was well-received, and there have been requests for me to teach more of these types of classes in the future,” Hall-Scharf said.