Effective April 1, the IGFA will create consistency with its venerable saltwater records by instituting separate men’s and women’s record categories for its freshwater records. In doing so, hundreds of vacant record categories will open for record seekers.
You’d think this would be viewed as good thing and would inspire folks to get out and take advantage of all those record vacancies. However, a few female anglers have taken umbrage at the IGFA’s decision to separate its freshwater records. Quotes like: “Women anglers are every bit as talented as men!” and “Ladies don’t need special dispensation to achieve records!” are flyin’ all over the internet and social media.
In all honesty, quotes like these speak the truth. Ample evidence already exists that women make incredible anglers, especially in the realm of record fishing. Take, for example, IGFA’s records for marlin— surely a manly fish if ever there ever was one. There are a number of current records where the women’s record for a given line class exceeds that for the men’s corresponding line class. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever received a complaint from a man or woman over there being separate categories for saltwater records.
I’ve talked to several lady anglers who I know personally and consider superior anglers about this subject. IGFA Board Member and Hall of Famer Joan Wulff not only voted in favor of the new change at the IGFA board meeting, but also had this to say, “A separate category will encourage them to participate and to have their accomplishments recognized, as it did with our saltwater records.”
Stacey Parkerson is a friend and a bona fide bad-ass big-game angler with conventional and fly tackle and has the records to prove it. According to Stacey, “It makes no difference to me if record categories are separated. I'm competing against the same fish with the same rules as men.”
I find it kind of funny that you don’t hear a lot of hullaballoo about separate men’s and women’s categories for records associated with professional sports or the Olympic Games. Shoot, there’s even an international body for women’s fishing records — The International Women’s Fishing Association — that’s been in existence since 1955.
The take-home thing to remember here is that there are no separate IGFA rules for men or women, and IGFA reviews each and every record as such. This is what allows record catches to be compared within and among sexes. Whether you’re a man or woman, no one gets a break.