I took my first job after graduate school in Twin Falls, ID in 2013. I had never lived west of Oklahoma and was extremely excited to finally be near mountains. My then-boyfriend and I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to teach ourselves about fly fishing. From our first fishing trip in the Rocky Mountains, I fell in love with the challenge of getting a perfect drift, and the thrill and validation I felt when I was able to convince a trout to go after my dry fly. Every experience fishing felt new and exciting. I was constantly learning and constantly being challenged. I simply fell in love with the sport. Unfortunately, I always saw fly fishing as an activity we did together. I barely ever went out on my own. I had no confidence in myself, my knowledge, or my skills to go it solo. And quite frankly, my experiences in the world of fly fishing had been very male-dominated, so I allowed myself to feel out of place.
It took me a while to get out of that mindset and feel comfortable hitting the water without my male counterpart. Looking back on it now, it’s hard not to be disappointed in me. I missed out on so many good fishing opportunities because I didn’t have the confidence to go out alone. As silly as that sounds, it turns out I’m not the only one to ever feel that way. I can understand the trepidations of entering into a currently male-dominated activity, having felt the same way myself when I first started.
Now that I have a little more know-how and a little more self-confidence, I try to use those strengths to encourage other women to join me on the water, fly rod in hand. I had a unique opportunity to do that in North Dakota, my home these days. North Dakota’s heritage is rich in hunting and fishing, but there aren’t many fly anglers in general, let alone female anglers. In September, I offered to teach two fly-fishing courses for the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department’s Wild Outdoor Women event. I was surprised to find out how many women were interested in the sport, as both classes filled up within a few hours of the opening of registration. I really didn’t know what I was getting into, but I was excited about the opportunity to share my passion with other women.
Despite my nerves, the event was a huge success. I spent a beautiful fall weekend teaching 24 ladies the basics of fly fishing: equipment, knots, casting, landing a fish, and all the rest. We all had a blast! Between the 24 women, over 20 fish were caught, most of them their first on a fly rod. It was a successful weekend fishing, but more importantly, it was an opportunity to bond with other like-minded women. I am hopeful that this class instilled in the women more know-how and the courage needed to continue in this sport done. I am sure I will see them on the water in the months to come, and I cannot wait to teach the course again in the future.