To mark International Women’s Day, Inland Fisheries Ireland is celebrating some of Ireland’s well known women anglers.

Dorrie Gibbons is a well-known fly fishing enthusiast from Cong, Co. Mayo. With nine caps under her belt as a member of the Irish Ladies Fly Fishing International Team, Dorrie is also the holder of two international gold medals and two specimen records. She works in fisheries conservation as a manager of the ESB Salmon Hatchery run by Salmo Salar Ltd in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal and is also a Board Member of the Irish Specimen Fish Committee.

“I started fishing when I was five years of age. My late father, Dick Gibbons, used to take myself, my brother and my younger sister down to the river to give my mother a break! He was into fly fishing himself so he would set us up with worms and a small little spinning rod to catch perch. My sister never took to it but I was hooked straight away, so was my brother.

Once hooked to fishing my passion and love for angling just grew and grew, from fishing with the worm, spinning and dapping with the mayfly in May and June and then dapping the grasshopper / daddy longlegs in August and September.

During my studies I worked in The Salmon Research Agency, which is now known as the Marine Institute,  on the shores of Lough Furnace in Newport, Mayo.  While I was there, I got a few tips on how to start Fly Fishing and then I continued to practise the art of casting, which I just loved. As I am a native from the village of Cong which is situated between Loughs Corrib and Mask, both lakes are renowned and famous angling destinations so I was in a good location to practise!

Since then, I have fished for Ireland on the Irish Ladies International Fly Fishing Team with nine caps and two gold medals – the first medal was in 2009 in Killarney on Lough Lein and it was the first time Ireland won a gold medal in the 18 years that it was competing in the Ladies Internationals. Our second gold medal was again down in Kerry on Lough Carragh in Glencar in 2013.

My two specimen records were for a 12.5 trout caught on the troll when I was 17 years of age and another 12.5 pound trout on the Cong River with a worm.

Today, I fish a lot of competitions on Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. I love fishing the wild loughs. Lough Corrib is my number one fishing destination, I love Carra Lake in Kerry too and Lough Mask in Mayo. There’s something more exciting about the wild loughs because you don’t know what size fish you’re going to get. I also fish the small wild trout lakes in Connemara and in Donegal.

There is a great social network when it comes to fishing.  When I turned a special age, rather than having a Birthday Party I decided to organise a fishing competition and called it ‘Cast A Line for Autism’.  There is a special little guy in my family who struggles with the day to day issues of life, that we can just take for granted.

The first year we held the event we raised €4,000 which was presented to the ‘Galway Autism Partnership’ (GAP).  The second and third year we presented a cheque of €6,500 to the Cong NS for the building of a ‘Sensory Garden’ which is a garden specially designed for children with special needs. The last two years we presented two cheques to the ‘Irish Guide Dogs’ totalling €9,800.

Since the competition started is has become an annual event which is always fished on the weekend before the August Bank Holiday Weekend. It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to give something back that can make a difference in someone’s life.

I have also set up a group of Lady Anglers who simply fish for the pure enjoyment of the sport, we call ourselves ‘The Damsel Fly-fishers’.

I would definitely encourage women to take the opportunity and try the sport of fishing, because it truly is a very relaxing hobby.  You can fish from a bank of a river to the bank of a stocked fishery, or the next best things is hop into a boat and enjoy the pleasure of fishing from a drifting boat.

We all know how listening to the sounds of water lapping on a shore or against a boat, with a warm breeze blowing in your face on a warm sunny day makes you feel.

My advice would be to go and join your local angling club as they are always delighted to see new faces coming through the door and are always happy to support and encourage Ladies both young and old to keep the sport of fishing alive.

So go on Ladies Grab your Husbands / Partner’s or Friends ‘Sage’, ‘Orvis’ or ‘G-Loomis’  fishing rods and have some fun!

Favourite Fishing Destination: Lough Corrib