River Dee Damsels angling to get more women involved in fishing

Aberdeenshire group's photos are attracting attention from across the globe.

It used to be rare to see a woman fishing on the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, but more and more are wading into the water than ever before.

It’s thanks to a new group who are angling to get more women onto the riverbank.

Aberdeen angler Tara Spiers founded the River Dee Damsels to encourage and support women to take up fishing.

It’s a sport mostly enjoyed by men but the new group is attracting interest from ladies all over the globe.

“When I first started, I’d go into a hut and listen to guys talking about technical detail that I had absolutely no clue about and I felt quite intimidated at that time,” explained Tara.

“It was obvious there was no pathway into fishing the way there is in other sports and I just wanted to provide a ‘comfort blanket’ and introduce newbies into the sport.”

The passionate angler has been on a mission to encourage more women to wade in ever since.

“It’s about ladies getting out to support each other and having a laugh. When I first started we were seen as a bit of a novelty,” she said.

“I remember on one trip to a beat (stretch of river), an elderly ghillie (personal assistant while fishing) said: ‘Well, I’m really not sure what to do with you. But now it’s more common to see women fishing on the river Dee and the men are so encouraging towards us.”

The group’s images on social media have attracted attention from across the globe and Tara thinks that’s why women are becoming more visible on riverbanks.

“We post pictures online and people are seeing us and want to get on board. It’s completely addictive, there is no feeling like standing in the river.”

The group has attracted people of all ages and abilities, from proficient anglers to complete beginners who want to learn what the sport is all about

Mairi Gilbert took up fishing because of Tara’s encouragement and has been out on the river a few times with the Damsels.

“It is a like-minded group of ladies from all walks of life with all sorts of interests and it’s very social and there is no pressure, which is the nicest thing about learning,” said Mairi.

The group are hoping more women will take up the sport.

“It doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby and there are so many ways to get into it,” said Tara.

The group hold many informal gatherings like a “women, wine and waders” night and “read the river” afternoon teas.

Next year they are organising a “ladies learn to fish day” when the new season opens in March.

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