By Laura Foster
Women like Laura Foster represent a growing number of anglers actively seeking knowledge and products
from stores like yours. Follow Laura’s fishing and hunting adventures on Instagram @_fishingwestcoast.
As a female angler and hunter, I know all too well the feeling of intimidation. I can relate to the inexperienced lost soul browsing the fishing section, admiring the shiny lures and wondering what the heck PowerBait was. You know, things like not not knowing what size weight and hook to use, the type of bait or lure needed and questioning if bobbers were even necessary. Although I’m more confident in my abilities these days, it’s still an ongoing learning curve.
My love for fishing was accidental. Like the majority of hunters, the off-season is when you generally get your angling fix. Wanting to see what all the hype was about, I ventured to the lake one summer day — shortly after spawning season. Waiting patiently for a nibble, I began to notice a therapeutic feeling about disconnecting from the outside world. No Wi-Fi. No distractions. Just me, my rod and reel, the great outdoors and (of course) my trusted Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, which I always bring for added personal protection.
After countless casting and retrieving yielded no results, and feeling somewhat defeated, I finally got the thrill I’d been hoping for — the tug everyone talks about. Landing my first large-mouth bass was a big deal for me, and an overall incredible experience. Nothing was more gratifying than casting the line, setting the hook and reeling in a fish all on my own. My angling addiction had officially started: I was “hooked” from then on.
It’s evident now, more than ever, women are becoming increasingly interested in the sports of fishing and hunting, as well as recreational shooting. Retailers are noticeably catering to their female audience, and we gladly thank them for it. What was once considered a predominately male industry is now common ground for all to enjoy and participate.
Cast A Wide Net
Surrounded by farmland and nestled in the heart of Oxnard, Calif., stands Turner’s Outdoorsman — one of 20 stores the retail chain has scattered throughout the state. As General Manager Mike Armento shared with me, he’s seeing a growing number of female customers visit his storefront location more frequently.
“Our main focus is to make sure we’re meeting everyone’s needs on an equal basis,” Armento stated. “Setting up a proper atmosphere, while also ensuring there is no intimidation is imperative. I constantly remind my team to be confident and friendly when approaching female clientele.”
With an impressive indoor archery center run by a well-qualified female range manager, it’s easy to see how this hunting and specialty store is attracting new visitors. Armento stressed the importance of educating female staffers.
“It’s hugely beneficial they familiarize themselves with the products, become informed and get to know the industry,” he said. “In the event female customers need assistance, or anyone for that matter, they’re better equipped to answer questions.”
Lori Sachau, a pro staffer for Turner’s Outdoorsman in San Marcos, Calif., also agrees.
“Each August, we hold our annual three-day, all-lady angler charter trip in San Diego. The invitation is not only open to our female employees, it’s extended to any woman wanting to gain more of an understanding,” she shared. “I’ve seen an incredible amount of confidence, empowerment and education gained during these yearly events.
“No one feels out of place, they can ask questions without hesitation, and plus,” she laughed, “with a boat full of women, we can get pretty loud; we have a ton of fun.”
Known as the Charter Master, this seasoned vet has well over 25 years of experience, and she admits to constantly learning new lingo, methods and technique daily.
“I find being at the forefront, women anglers come in and are drawn to me. We’re on the same level of understanding and very relatable to each other,” she said. However, with majority of male customers, Sachau says it’s quite the opposite. “For most of my tenure in this field, I get asked the same question by men regularly, ‘Do you even know anything about fishing?’” she recalls. “Once they get a feel for my level of understanding, and we get past the initial icebreaker, I’m no longer perceived the same.”
Outdoor Edge ReelFlex
Turner’s is known for carrying a wide range of sporting goods, including high-quality rods and reels from most big industry names. “Seeker rods has been by far one of our best sellers, along with Shimano, Phenix, Okuma and Diawa,” Armento lends. “One of our leading brands we carry, Avet, offers the option of customizing your reel in more than just your average standard black. We can special order literally everything from solid reds and greens to other colors like light pink, baby blue and purple,” he added.
Time of season also plays a part in store products that sell the best, as Armento shared, “During warmer summer months, fishing gear sales do fairly well, and as winter approaches, it begins to slow down and hunting season will start to pick up.”
Aside from the vast array of fishing gear and apparel at Turner’s, customers will find a top-notch selection of optics as well as other firearm accessories. “In my opinion, Leupold has some of the best glass, and Vortex is also a great product for the price, offering one of the best warranties out on the market,” Armento said. This explains why Leupold’s BX-1 Yosemite as well as Vortex’s Diamondback are top sellers at the store.
Many female outdoorswomen can identify and attest to the emotions felt when venturing into any outdoor pursuit: Wanting to inquire about endless things, but uncertain of where and how to ask. I can personally vouch for the confidence that comes with getting a good grasp on fishing; it not only lit a fire in me, but also enticed me to become an avid hunter as well. If you’re fortunate enough to assist a novice female enthusiast who’s wandering your store aisles, it’s worth the time and effort to guide her in the right direction. Who knows, she may continue as a repeat customer of yours, and hopefully find a passion for the outdoors as so many continue to do.