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November 18, 2021
During the last 18 months, many of us picked up new hobbies. For me, I decided to try my hand at fly fishing. I’ve fished my entire life, but never ventured into this style of fishing which always appeared to be more like an art than a science. The challenge of learning something new sold me on giving it a try.
So, this past April I purchased a basic rod, reel, and line setup from Orvis, started watching YouTube videos, and practiced in my backyard. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from male mentors like Shawn Kimbro, Dan Rodricks, and Adam Miller – they have been gracious with their patience and time with what they would consider as, “just sharing their passion.” But as I started to get a closer view into the world of fly fishing, I couldn’t help but think, “Where do the women fish?” I was on a mission to find out.
As I started following other aspiring femme-fly fishers on Instagram, I began to see a national network of emerging groups focused on bringing women together to learn how to fly fish in a safe space. With a deeply traditional male sport such as fly fishing, the barriers to non-male identifying participants can be high. As a woman who oftentimes finds herself in male-dominated activities, I was nervous about messing up as a beginner. I knew there were other female fly fishers in the Chesapeake, and I was actively looking for a new network to learn with.
Amidea Daniels, Youth & Women’s Coordinator and TIC Coordinator of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, leads the group through the basics of setting up a fly rod.
I found an opportunity this September in Fawn Grove, PA, through a “Women’s Intro to Fly Fishing Workshop” that was organized by the Muddy Creek Trout Unlimited Chapter, in coordination with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. About 20 women gathered early on a mild Saturday in September on the banks of the beautiful Muddy Creek, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. Amidea Daniels, Youth & Women’s Coordinator and TIC Coordinator of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, was our talented head instructor, and did an incredible job of helping us all build confidence and skills, with a consistent message of conservation responsibilities within the sport. We learned to tie a few flies, practiced tying the Improved Clinch Knot and Surgeon’s knots, practiced the very handy roll cast (known as the Pennsylvania Hero), learned the mechanics of our rods, got a close up with aquatic bugs, and got to try our hand at fishing in the mis-named Muddy Creek. I met new women who were equally interested in learning something new that would keep getting us outdoors. And more specifically, getting us outdoors with other women learning to fly fish.
Volunteer instructors from the Board of the Muddy Creek Trout Unlimited Chapter demonstrated how to tie a few flies. Here Adam Miller, of the MCTU Board and the Alliance’s Communications Director, helps participants learn the finer points of fly tying.
I enjoyed the day – having met new friends and learning something new alongside a beautiful creek. The new skills I learned are helping to build my confidence, and the reminder from Kelley Kirsch, organizer of the newly forming Lancaster Fly Girls, that “the fish don’t care how perfect your cast is” was the simple inspiration I needed to hear.
An entire day spent outside is always a good day. The experience left me feeling refreshed and physically exhausted, like the day after an incredible hike. I am grateful for a new community of women, and a new practice of self-care. I can keep my fly rod in my car, which gives me an easy option to explore more of the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Buying fishing licenses in all the major Chesapeake jurisdictions means that I am also helping support fish habitat restoration and conservation efforts – a win-win from my viewpoint.
Participants took to Muddy Creek to try out our newly learned skills! Here is Rebecca Lauver, the Alliance’s Pennsylvania Forests Projects Associate, learning how to roll cast.
The excitement of building a network of fellow female fisher-folks has hooked me, unlike the trout that eluded me on Muddy Creek.
If you’re looking to get hooked up with a group of female fly fishers and outdoor enthusiasts, these groups can help you get started!
Chesapeake Women Anglers https://chesapeakewomenanglers.org
Fly Girls Fly Fishing of the Mid-Atlantic https://m.facebook.com/Flygirlsmidatlantic/
United Women on the Fly https://uwotf.com
Becoming an Outdoor Woman (Maryland) https://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/pages/education/bow.aspx
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