A Fly Fishing Magazine Unlike Any Other
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photo by Phyllis Bairringtonphoto by Phyllis Bairrington

My Tribe, My Invisible Net

Running. That was the original connection. I am a fortunate woman to have lived in two, now three, different communities and developed an amazing tribe of women in both.

The cherry on top is that they are now integrated into one big tribe supporting each other across three states. We all met pursuing a common interest, running. From there, coffee, and our affinity for donuts, grew into running and breakfast, which soon turned into happy hours and shenanigans. It did not take long to form bonds with these women that have withstood time and distance. We are stronger because of each other, and imagining life without them brings me to my knees.

Of course, it was inevitable that we would extend our adventures to fishing. We had already taken on knitting (friends, if you like to fish you will like to knit; very similar zen moments and ridiculous results). My eastern tribe and I developed the Greater Chattanooga Area Co-Ed Knitting Tequila Club (GCCKTC). Because what isn’t more fun with a little tequila thrown in there?  And some of our men were actually interested in learning to knit. Turns out, it was a scam to drink tequila, so we dropped them and kept the tequila.

photo by - Phyllis Bairrington

My husband and I moved to Colorado last year. The first few months after moving were consumed with all the things a new location brings. Nesting, learning your community, and because it's Colorado, camping, hiking, biking, running, snowshoeing, and skiing took up a good bit of summer, fall, and early winter. I missed my tribal connections and began to look for ways to meet new people to weave into my tapestry of friends. Like most grand fishing adventures, mine was hatched on a snowy winter day. I was reading DUN Magazine and dreaming of warmer fishing days when I discovered women-only fishing trips/classes. I know, I’m late to the game here, but I’m catching on quickly. The thought of women buddies heading out to the water to do what we do best, have fun, support each other, and love each other, filled me with excitement. One more venue to share life, test our limits, and restore our balance.

I found women’s fishing clinics and trips in various states that all sounded like the dream vacation. My challenge was geography, time, and accessibility. My two tribes are in Austin, TX and Chattanooga, TN. I live in Woodland Park, CO. Getting people from Texas and Tennessee to places like Montana, Idaho, or Alaska was asking a bit much for the first adventure.  Woodland Park is in the Pikes Peak region with the South Platte and Arkansas waters closely accessible. I’m a big proponent of shopping local, so my next call was to our local fly shop.

photo by - Phyllis Bairrington

Jeremy Hyatt, owner of Flies & Lies in Deckers, CO was enthusiastically supportive. I asked him if he would be willing to put on a two to three day women’s fishing clinic for us, and he didn’t hesitate to say, you bet! My adventure was shaping up nicely on that winter morning!  Next, of course, we needed some adventurees. Marketing is everything, so I composed a tantalizing, with a little bit of guilt, text message, and shot it out to the tribe. I was turning 50 and I dubbed this my “Year of 50”. I can’t recall the specifics, but the text definitely had the words, “epic adventure” and “you can’t miss a Year of 50 Celebration” in it. I immediately began getting responses. This is why these women are my tribe.

Our adventure morphed into “Women’s Week” culminating in the two day fishing clinic with Flies & Lies. I received such an overwhelming response to the “Year of 50 Celebration” hook, I kept adding days and activities to gather as many people as possible. My new marketing pitch was, “Whether you can make the fishing days or not, c’mon out and spend some time hiking, drinking tequila/knitting, and just sharing life with each other.”  The first night around the dinner table, holding hands and saying what we were grateful for had not a dry eye in the house. The power of women sharing and caring is unmatched. It never ceases to amaze me, and heal me in ways I don't know I need.

photo by - Phyllis Bairrington

FINALLY, it’s was here!  Day one of our fishing adventure. My mom and my aunt were among the participants, two women who have taught me strength and perseverance, let alone how to fish!  My mom is the best angler in our family and still holds this title!

We started out in “class” where we learned some knots, and how to set up our own rigs. We moved quickly to casting practice, which could not have been more fun, and led to internet searches for hula hoops! We finished the first day thoroughly exhausted. Around the dinner table that night was excitement and energy that comes with learning something new, and eagerness to do more of it. And tequila. Always tequila.

photo by - Phyllis Bairrington

The next day was fueled with coffee and biscuits. Most of this group is from Tennessee, and Tennesseans know how to make biscuits. Off we went to get some fish!

And fish we did! The whoops and hollers made us feel like kids again.

photo by - Phyllis Bairrington

The magic of standing in the river absorbing all the beauty around you, trying to outwit a fish whose very survival depends on outwitting you, is unrivaled in my book. I imagine it’s like the gamblers in Vegas who keep feeding the coins into the slot machine. The next cast will be it! Jackpot!

photo by - Phyllis Bairrington

We ended the trip with a few more angling friends, and another experience shared that binds us together. The energy is exciting for our friendships and for fishing. Our social media posts generated excitement and surprise from our followers. As a result, one of the ladies was invited onto a radio show to talk about her experience fishing. Another bought her own outfit, and now goes fishing after work. All of us have already started planning the next Fish Camp, and the folks who could not make it are putting it on the calendar now. We are including our daughters in our next Women’s Week to encourage the next generation. I can’t think of a better result from this Year of 50 Fish Camp than to have ignited the fire in more women with the intent to share it with our daughters. The invisible net grows stronger with each fiber.

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