I have out-fished men, and men have out-fished me. I don’t pride myself on being a female angler, but I do feel there is something to be said about being a female in a sport dominated by men.
I’m not the angler that grew up learning the sport. My dad is from Queens and besides artificially inseminating a cow once he’s not much of a tough guy (in the Jeremiah Johnson – I wear a bear for a coat sort of way). My mom is the outdoorsy one. I grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on land first settled by my family in the 1800s and Mom would take my brothers and I camping to explore the gifts of Mother Nature. We would drown worms in the creeks and use whole cans of niblet corn just to catch war-painted shiners on spin rods. This is when bobbers were bobbers. The first time I caught a fish I screamed bloody murder and begged my mom to get it off the hook crying, “Save its life! Save its life!” Besides the compassion I still have for fish, a lot has changed since then. I am an angler.
“Fly fishing is a healthy antisocial sport, and many of us have an emotional investment in being misunderstood because it makes us feel strange and brilliant, like Van Gogh.” – John Gierach
My love affair with fly fishing began while attending college in western North Carolina. This is where I discovered the mecca of the Southeastern fly fishing scene and how “study breaks” soon turned into all afternoon fishing sessions. I got to know the boys at the local fly shop and learned about some of the more hidden streams in the area. Since then, I have made it my duty to get as far from the sports fisherman as possible. This isn’t because I don’t like other anglers, this is because I don’t like other people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m categorically a nice gal. John Gierach had it right when he said, “Fly fishing is a healthy antisocial sport, and many of us have an emotional investment in being misunderstood because it makes us feel strange and brilliant, like Van Gogh.”
Most of what I have learned in fly fishing has been by trial and error. I’ve tried tying my own flies, but I prefer whiskey on the rocks. Lately though I’ve become a bug fanatic and I’ve shifted my focus from just trying to catch the biggest and the best fish on a fly I know nothing about to learning bug patterns and studying the river bottom. I’ll tell you a little secret though, if you know how to work it, a Tellico Nymph works almost every time.
I have out-fished men, and men have out-fished me. I don’t pride myself on being a female angler, but I do feel there is something to be said about being a female in a sport dominated by men. I’ve overheard men in the fly shop saying, “Oh, she’s cute and she can fish? That’s wife material!” I laugh under my breath and think, yeah I’ve got tits and I can fish, but that sure as hell doesn’t qualify me as a good wife unless I can walk through the door after being on the river all day and yell, ‘Honey, I’m home!’ and dinner is ready for me. Now that’s husband material!