The group of approximately two dozen ladies who gathered at the Oak Island Recreation Center and Yaupon Pier for the Third Annual Women Anglers In Training (WAIT) seminars on April 29 and 30 wanted to improved their fishing skills and all of them succeeded.

The WAIT program was developed by Rebecca Squires of the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department (OIPRD) and then implemented through a joint effort of the OIPRD and North Carolina Sportsman Magazine. South Carolina Sportsman Magazine joined the mix in 2006. The purpose of the program is to offer the ladies a place to come and learn about fishing, without any interference from husbands, boyfriends, or males of any relationship. WAIT participants come from all across North and South Carolina.

From the beginning in 2004, the WAIT was a success. The ladies arrive on Saturday morning bright, chipper and eager to learn and by the time they leave on Sunday afternoon, they have mastered the basics of fishing and even caught a few fish.

The 2006 WAIT continued the success of the program. Beginning with the Introduction to Tackle, Terms and Technology, the ladies kept an open mind that absorbed like a sponge. Several remarked it helped immensely that none of the instructors were married to any of the participants and several of the instructors were ladies themselves.

The funniest comment overheard during the weekend was, "Learning this from you is easy. I guess men just can't teach anything to women they are sleeping with." Certainly this was meant regarding things like fishing, driving, backing a trailer and such, but everyone who heard it laughed out loud and probably still chuckles every time they think of it.

The day began with the Introduction to Tackle, Terms, and Technology and then progressed to a session on Three Basic Knots. Once the ladies were comfortable with the names and uses of the different pieces of tackle and had mastered tying the line to an eye, making a loop and tying two lines together, they were ready to learn the specifics of several different kinds of fishing.

Flounder fishing equipment, rigs and techniques were the highlight of the morning. It always seems everyone likes to eat flounder and is interested in catching them.

After a tasty lunch of grilled chicken and all the fixin's, prepared by the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association, it was back to work. The afternoon sessions included tackle, rigs and tactics for catching speckled trout, red drum, assorted surf fishing species, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and king mackerel.

The king mackerel session was conducted by Capt. Bob Black and Denise Kinney, with special emphasis on ways to prepare for the Long Bay Lady Anglers King Mackerel Tournament coming the first weekend in August. The Lady Angler Tournament, as it is affectionately referred to, requires the ladies to do all the fishing. On this day a man can only run the boat, catch bait, gaff and offer encouragement.

The final session Saturday afternoon was on throwing cast nets and it was repeated several times during the morning on Sunday.

Sunday was the day to try out some of the things learned on Saturday. Unfortunately the wind blew very hard and decided to become northerly, cold and uncomfortable.

Yaupon Pier was where the ladies gathered and after a very basic review they began fishing. They began catching also. No one took home a cooler full of fish, but a few small whiting, sand perch, croakers, puffers, bluefish and more were hungry and feeding. Several other trophies included an oyster toadfish and a skate.

Even with the cold wind buffeting them, all the ladies stayed at it until early afternoon. Some stayed a little later, but all were smiling when they left. They may not go back home and show anyone how to catch trophy fish, but they learned enough to cover the basics and had fun doing it.

The instructors for the event included: Capt. Karen Haas, Ladyfish Guide Fishing; Denise Kinney, Long Bay Lady Anglers King Mackerel Tournament; Capt. Andy Fisher, Go Fish Charters; Capt. Marty Wright, Wright of Passage Charters; Capt. Bob Black, Long Bay Artificial Reef Association; John Knight, Raleigh Saltwater Sportfishing Club and Capt. Jerry Dilsaver, North Carolina and South Carolina Sportsman Magazines.

Sponsors for the event included: Mercury Outboards, Sea Striker, Star Rods, Betts Tackle, Ltd., Blackbarry Marine, Yaupon Pier, Oak Island Fishing Club and the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association.

Plans for the 2007 WAIT are already underway. The event will be in late April or early May. Check in North Carolina and South Carolina Sportsman Magazines and on this website for more details.