WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Kathryn Maroun objects to new IGFA rules that separate male and female anglers

Someone wrote me and said that they would read my blog about a startling proposed rule change by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) if it contained the following observations. They would like the article if it contained the word “shame,” love the article if it contained the word “disgraceful,” and chuckle if the article used the term “male chauvinist pigs.”

Well I’m sorry, they are not pigs, but rather antiquated thinkers.

Until yesterday, and ever since sometime in the late 1930s for that matter, the modus operandi for world-record fish under the IGFA rules was that a world record (no matter what junk you have in the trunk) was a world record.

On the heels of International Women’s Day, all that has changed.



Illustration courtesy of Dave Tackett


The IGFA has announced amendments to its record categories. The sexist rule will go into effect April 1, 2014. (The irony of the commencement date is not lost on me.) I suppose this year will be different in Italy, France, and Belgium, where children traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s backs as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (Pesce d’aprile! Poisson d’avril! and Aprilvis! in Italian, French, and Flemish, respectively). This year, boys will only pin boys and girls only pin girls, in keeping with the spirit of the IGFA rule change.

Freshwater line class and fly-rod records will now be separated into men’s and women’s categories. I’m not sure why a fish that weights 5 pounds caught by a man would be different than a 5-pound fish caught by a woman, but the paternalistic new rules of the IGFA organization seem to feel it is.

Separate but equal . . . no such thing!

Herbert Hoover said it best:

To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men—for all men are equal before fish.”

The new IGFA rule violates modern-day sensibilities. Singling out any group because it is “different” is hurtful and backward. When I posted the bad news on my whatacatch.net Facebook page, the very first comment read: “On the positive side, it will give more record awards to women.”

Aarrrgghhhh! I don’t need handouts, thank you very much!

A world record will not carry the same prestige after April 1. Shame.

This proposed change is a ploy to create hundreds of vacancies for world records for the IGFA, at the expense of equality in the sport.

April Fool’s, perhaps? Yes, that is what I was thinking because up until yesterday it didn’t matter to the fish whether or not I had ovaries.

I was always told, after all, that it is the fish that decides to take the “bait.” Surely the fish doesn’t wonder whether it is a man, woman or child holding the pole. Fishing was always one of the few sports where men and woman played together on an equal footing. That was part of its appeal.

We are equal in the eyes of fish and children.

Under the direction of the 20-person board of trustees (or, excuse me, as per the new rules) 18 men and two nonmale trustees, and the all-male officers of the IGFA, a 5-pound fish is no longer a 5-pound fish.


Photo courtesy of Kathryn Maroun

But these are the new qualifying requirements when applying for an IGFA world record.

The IGFA website states that the angling rules have been formulated by the IGFA to promote ethical and sporting angling practices, to establish uniform regulations for the compilation of world game fish records, and to provide basic angling guidelines for use in fishing tournaments and any other group angling activities. They are about to add: to be paternalistic and insulting toward woman.

Where is the uniformity they talk about if they organize by gender? I don’t see what sex, race, or religion has to do with any of this.

Stick with your mission statement:

The International Game Fish Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.”

Stick with your objectives:

The purpose of IGFA, as set forth in the early bylaws, is “to encourage the study of game fishes for the sake of whatever pleasure, information, or benefit it may provide; to keep the sport of game fishing ethical, and to make its rules acceptable to the majority of anglers; to encourage this sport both as recreation and as a potential source of scientific data; to place such data at the disposal of as many human beings as possible …”

This misguided proposed rule change implies that women can’t cut it unless we get a handout. Poppycock!


KathrynMarounfeatured 3_1

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Maroun


I have reached out by email and Twitter to request a meeting with Eric Combast, Development Director for the IGFA. I would like to understand the basis for this proposed rule change and offer up some alternative solutions that will not smack of shameful, disgraceful chauvinism.

Follow Kathryn’s quest to right the wrong of this latest decision by the IGFA at What A Catch’s Facebook page.

  • About Kathryn Maroun

    Kathryn Maroun is one of a handful of Canadian women to be certified as an FFF casting instructor. She is the award winning executive producer of What A Catch Productions. The 52 show series highlights Kathryn's fishing adventures from around the world. Kathryn exposes never talked about hazards of the sport, conservation, culture, as well as showcasing exotic game fish in her series. Her show first aired in the US before being internationally distributed. Kathryn is featured in the collection of two prominent museums for her significant contribution to the sport of fly fishing. Kathryn Maroun is the president and founder of Casting for Recovery Canada, past director of Trout Unlimited Canada and past member of the Canadian World Fly Fishing team. Along with creating a line of clothing for women at work in the outdoors, Kathryn has fished around the world and has a number of world record fish to her name. Today she dedicates her time to writing about her miss-adventures and enjoys telling her stories through keynote speaking opportunities. Kathryn is campaigning to create a more balanced playing field for women in the sport.


The Conversation

  • Steve G. says: March 27, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Of all the stupid, unnecessary, wasteful regulations to come from IGFA. I cannot imagine the logic used to justify this asinine move. Is there a way to let those backwards-living members know of the displeasure participants have of this “separate but equal” ideal?

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 28, 2014 at 9:53 am

      What a mess. I’m very upset about this rule change. I wrote the IGFA and I called them as well Steve . They are doing it to increase membership and dollars. The loose so much more than they will gain. If you can find time to write then please do. We need your help. Write to Jack Vitek. His email at the IGFA is jvitek@igfa.org
      Thanks for your support.

      Some people may find it easier to listen to the issue rather than read about it so here is an Audio interview about IGFA April Fools Rule time code 38:55 (press arrow at bottom of page to load sound track then go to time code 38:55)


  • Brad Hodkinson says: March 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I’ve said it for years the IGFA is run by a bunch of elitist idiots that only make changes if it benefits them selfs . It took years for the stigma of being an elitist sport to be removed now the IGFA wants to regress it back to when woman stayed in the kitchen and couldn’t vote is this not 2014 and not 1952 ? .
    Kathryn you are the voice of many in more ways then you think a blitz of a petition ?

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 21, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Thanks for making time to support this issue. Your voice does help make change happen. I hope more people follow your example. The IGFA put out a report yesterday to defend themselves. We don’t want reasons for the April Fools rules….We just simply don’t want the change. On a fun note did you see on my whatacatch.net facebook page, the add for the IGFA? the post reads:”IGFA- Independent Goat Farmers Association. The goats will be upset because they will be kept separate after April Fools Day. Absolutely no kids allowed to play together!” Check it out Brad, the organization is real. Poetry

  • Jenny casey says: March 19, 2014 at 10:25 am

    That’s the greatest load of ass, I am an international angler and I have heard it all now. Why are they bringing segregation back again to be honest put any of them boys out against any of the Irish ladies team and we will teach them some manner lol. Great article Kathryn tight lines

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 23, 2014 at 11:46 am

      oh Jenny, thank you for your wonderful reaction to the April Fools rule. You gave them both barrels and I love you for it. May the fish gods keep you and bless you with the fish of your dreams. Love to visit with you some day. I’m sure that you are a lot of fun to hang out with. Tight lines Kathryn

  • fergie graham says: March 18, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    What idiots , a world record means exactly that . How do these people think these things up , a female friend of mine whips my ass everytime we fish together . I love fishing in her company , I thought in this day and age that these dinosaurs could not do this sort of thing . We are not all like them Kathryn , on the riverbank and in life we are all equal

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 19, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Thank you for your wonderful support Fergie.Dawn wrote:
      “In response to the segregation of genders in the angling world, I am confused?
      Is this meant to suppress woman into their own territory, own boat, own riverbank? Segregating genders in this sport is backwards thinking.

      The gear, water and fish do not know what gender is out to get them, nor should it matter!

      A Tyee is a Tyee… Caught by man or woman, thirty pounds is still thirty pounds!

      Are the men of the angling world worried that this will become a woman’s sport?
      What could possibly be the reason for such segregation…such alienation…such bigotry?

      On another note in regards to gender separation, what side of the river is my transgendered teenager suppose to cast from? What rules apply to them?

      It took some time to earn the trust and appreciation from the men on my river and this will or could all be undone when we women are no longer looked at as equal anglers with the same rules and regulations.

      From a Concerned avid west coast angler WOMAN.”

  • Tony Spacey says: March 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Thank goodness that Kathryn has publicised this folly. A trophy fish is a trophy fish regardless of the gender of the successful angler.

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks Tony. Very good of you to lend your voice. I don’t think that many people have taken time to understand how this will play out if the rule is put in place in a few weeks.
      Thankfully you have.We want world records for anglers and equality in the sport.

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 19, 2014 at 10:40 am

      OMF Tony. Reading your uncensored post this a.m was the best. Thanks for digging in with me on this issue. Tight lines to you. Cheers

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 19, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Oh after taking a second look I see that it wasn’t your link Tony. Sorry about that. You don’t need censorship. Wonderful of you to make time to help with this issue. Lord knows every voice is needed if we are going to sway them away from the April fools rule change.

  • Deb Freele says: March 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I can not think of another playing field where men and women are so equally matched, than fishing.
    As an avid woman angler, I find this new IGFA system very insulting. Where is the logic?

    Ask any man that’s fished with me, if I need special rules to be able to compete with them.

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      funny thing Deb…. that was my reaction to the proposed rule change as well.Then as I looked into it more deeply I was struck but what the future holds …..we are talking about freshwater fish here ok….. some people who try all there lives to get a world record will be passed over by a woman who catches a smaller fish but big enough to measure up in the fluffy pink girl record list and so she is crown with a world record. ouch!!! we don’t want this sort of thing It waters down what a world record is. A record fish is a record fish period.

  • Jerry Plaaten says: March 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I do hope you are serious and this is not a put on…er, actually, I hope you are not serious! Either way, what a terrible idea from the the IGFA. A record is a record regardless of the angler. If this goes through, the IGFA, I believe, will lose a lot of credibility and a huge amount of my respect. Unbelievable.

  • Christie Hargreaves says: March 11, 2014 at 11:33 am

    This is a HUGE step in the wrong direction!, fishing has been the one sport that both men and women played on equal playing grounds. Don’t take that away from us. This is 2014 why on earth would you want to segregate women from the men. We all fish with the same rod and line. Pretty sure there’s no difference to the fish which hook it takes.. Please reconsider your decision I truly believe its not the right one..

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Amen to that Christie. I agree with you 100percent. It will be hard to stop after April 1. We need action today to turn this train around. Thank you for using your voice!

  • Jan Normandale says: March 11, 2014 at 2:32 am


    I suspect your analysis goes to the root of the change :
    “..create hundreds of vacancies for world records for the IGFA….”

    In a situation like this when no ‘rational’ explanation truly makes sense you have to look in other directions for the drivers. I think this change is the classic “it’s all about the money” driver. Need I say more? I’m sure with all these new ‘record creating opportunities’ now available the IGFA will see more revenue. It’s a classic problem. How to grow a mature “business” the IGFA must think this is a solution. They haven’t thought of the consequences.

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Jan,thanks for trying to understand this along with an army of us. Hate to see the record books get watered down based on gender. When did a record fish stop being a record fish?Good grief

  • Bill Bryden says: March 11, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Guys…I’m a bigger knuckle dragger than most…but even I have to squawk about this one…Guys and Girls fishing records??! REALLY? In 2014? IGFA, I know you want to keep making new categories and making new records…but this was a step down the wrong path. Ladies, My sincere apologies on behalf of IGFA.

  • Ed McCarty says: March 10, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I believe these so-called ‘men’ of the IGFA cannot stomach the thought of a woman bettering them, so this new rule is actually unequal – a typical ‘boys club’ mentality at work here!

  • hhlim says: March 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Sport Fishing is the only Sport that needs no age , gender and race seperation.An April Fool Day joke maybe. Otherwise IGFA will definitely lose its standing as a world Fishing Classification records Body…..there is not a single valid reason it should be categorize into a male /female sport.

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 11, 2014 at 11:23 am

      I have to repeat this reality….IGFA will definitely lose its standing as a world Fishing Classification records Body…..there is not a single valid reason it should be categorize into a male /female sport.” In a time when society is blurring the lines on gender, why would the IGFA go the opposite way/ “MONEY”

  • Jim Irvine says: March 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    “The promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices”

    Come on IGFA abide by your own mission statement and do the responsible thing, drop the idea of seperate gender record keeping

  • Bill Bowers says: March 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Kathryn is right. Whether it was intended that way or not, the new IGFA system seems insulting to women, implying that the ladies need a separate record-keeping system in order to stay on an equal footing with men. How absurd.

    • kathryn Maroun says: March 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      hey Bill, I think we are trying to say the same thing, “Archie Bunker did not intend to be….welll Archie Bunkerish….he just was.
      We are all equal in the eyes of fish and children.