It’s a relatively cool, cloudy, Sunday in late August. AKA … brewing day. I am a homebrewer - beer, wine, mead and anything in between, even a traditional Finnish drink called Sima, which is a delicious sparkling lemonade. I’ve been waiting for cool weather (and spare time) all summer so I can try out new recipes. I also grew hops this year for the first time, and although they are not quite ready for harvest, I can’t wait to use them. In fact, I planted an entire garden dedicated to brewing, with various herbs and fruits to bring interesting flavors to new fermented ideas.
What does this have to do with fly fishing? Probably more than you’ve previously considered. Over the past 5-10 years, there have been an abundance of fly fishing-themed (or general fishing) craft brews, wine companies and whiskey distillers popping up all over the nation. There are breweries with flies as logos, beers with fishy names, all-in-one fly fishing and wine festivals, and guide services being offered at vineyards near trout streams. It’s really a match made in heaven. Fly fishing is something many of us do to relax, and many studies have shown that hops in beer and certain properties in wine and other adult beverages help us relax and unwind. Hops have been used medicinally for centuries for sleep disorders, insomnia, anxiety, ADHD, and even menopausal symptoms. Hops are so potent and effective that they have been compared to cannabis and tryptophan (that chemical in turkey that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner), so much that WebMD feels it necessary to have a side effects and warning page. Wine, on the other hand, especially red wine, is claimed to be effective in reducing incidences of depression, preventing certain cancers, ( including breast cancer) and assisting in diabetes prevention. New research, from a study in Spain, found that flavanoids in wine grapes can help protect against sunburn, and a New Zealand study claims that just thinking about wine can help us relax. Wow, that’s some impressive elixir!
We also consume adult beverages in celebration, often after a great catch, or a day on the water with old friends…or perhaps in celebration of simply surviving a rough day on the water. As I thought about my brewing day, I thought of times past with friends on the water, and the diversity of beverages I probably never would have tried otherwise. As it turns out, I really don’t drink alcohol very often. In fact, this past June, deep in the heart of the Driftless, was the first time I actually stopped fishing and enjoyed a beer on the water with two new fishing buddies. It was good to stop, and relax, bond over stories of the day, and watch the sun set.
Good old H2O was the #1 drink while on the water.
Thinking back on this moment, I wondered about other women on the water. I already knew that men’s fly fishing culture was chock-full of shared beverages and “Cheers” moments, but do women partake in these rituals as well? As it turns out, we do, but with an incredible amount of responsibility, which is good! About 60 female fly fishers, ranging in age from 25 to 112 (must be a red wine drinker), completed a survey about beverage consumption and fishing. Almost 40% of those that answered said they never consume adult beverages while fishing, mostly due to wanting to have all their wits in an environment of rough terrain, changing flows, or operating boats. Good old H2O was the #1 drink while on the water, comprising over 70% of the answers. However, fifty-eight percent of participants partake in a celebratory drink at the end of the day. Of those that do enjoy adult beverages during or after fishing, beer is by far the most popular drink (72%). Hard liquor was the second most popular (16%), followed by wine (8%), and mixed drinks (4%). Furthermore, women consuming these beverages say that they are only doing it occasionally, mostly when fishing with groups or friends, or when it has been a particularly wind-knot-filled day. While many answers had a lot to do with the relaxing qualities discussed earlier, many stories were shared that expressed the camaraderie of raising a glass with friends and family, new and old. One such story was from a woman whose first sip of beer was as a child on a fishing trip with her father. Now, nearing middle age, her significant other drinks the same beer, which reminds her of her connection to the past. Another participant was reminded of a fishing trip in Chile where it was custom to share a bottle of wine at lunch with your fishing buddy, and that she needs to resurrect that tradition again.
So, whether you’re a water-only kind of fisher, or you’ve got your own designated drink-carrying/serving elf on board (8% of respondents!), Raise a glass to women on the water, fishy friends, and taking time to relax!
***All beverages that contain alcohol should be consumed in moderation. It is not advisable to operate motorized vehicles while consuming alcoholic beverages.
****however, it is, in some circles, advisable to have a wee flask stashed in your vest for emergency celebrations.