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Hot Rods

Hey, girls, you can get rid of that envy now. Guys aren't the only ones with the long poles -- not since Betty Baumann started running a fishing skills clinic for women in 1997. Her husband "was a good angler," she says, "but he wanted to fish -- not spend all his time showing me how to tie a knot."

Baumann attended classroom seminars on the sport, "but I didn't get to touch the rods and reels. I couldn't remember which went on top and which went on the bottom. I thought, 'If I had the chance to pick it up and use it... '" She also thought, "There have got to be a lot of ladies like me out there." And that's why she launched Ladies, Let's Go Fishing! -- a chicks-only endeavor that's landed her on Good Morning America and in the Wall Street Journal. She and her co-instructors have taught fishing to a European princess and to Wayne Huizenga's wife, and Baumann earned the Woman of the Year award from the American Sport Fishing Association.

During a Ladies, Let's Go Fishing! seminar, women get instruction and then hands-on practice in all aspects of the sport. "We teach conservation," Baumann says, "like how to release fish, how to use dehookers, and not to touch the slime because it's damaging to fish." Other topics covered include inshore, bluewater, and bottom fishing ("That's catching fish that eat on the bottom, not sitting on your bottom and fishing"), fly fishing, and pier fishing. Women also practice knot tying and boat maneuvering and play with gadgets like Global Positioning Systems and sonar.

A Friday-night party is followed by instruction all day Saturday. On Sunday, there are optional fishing excursions -- to catch stuff like sailfish, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, or mackerel. Optimistically, a demonstration on how to filet a fish follows the boating.

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Deirdra Funcheon

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