Working for the Picabo Angler has been an incredible experience. There are locals that I see every day and visitors just passing through, folks who have made fly fishing their lives and others who know very little about the sport, energetic youngsters still figuring out who they are and grandparents wiser than their years. Regardless of where each person is on their journey through life, I am overwhelmed by the kindness and camaraderie that enters the store every day. There is something special about coming to work in the morning and not feeling like I’ve left home.
Of course, not everything can be perfect all of the time! Although there is the occasional female angler that comes into the shop, as a young woman I am often discouraged by the lack of ladies involved in the industry. From an outsider’s perspective, I’m sure that fly fishing can appear to be an elitist sport dominated by men; those of us who are on the inside, though, know how far from the truth that perspective is! Anyone can pick up a rod, learn how to cast, and begin the life-long love affair that is fly fishing.
Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to get more gals involved, I jumped on the prospect of running a fly fishing clinic catered to women when John Huber made the suggestion earlier this summer. Within a day of announcing it, the first clinic was completely booked; I was thrilled to see so much interest! After a few weeks of careful planning and consideration, I met the group of six women at the shop on Saturday for what I hoped would be an adventure that would spark in them the same love for the sport that I hold. The nervousness I felt leading up to the clinic dissipated almost immediately when I saw how excited the group was to finally learn how to fish without depending on other people for help with rigging, knot tying, reading water, etc.
We spent the morning going over basic terminology, entomology, wading safety, knots, and we practiced casting on the lawn before heading over to the Double R fishing club for a delicious lunch by the creek. It was such a treat to sit around a picnic table and get to know those women; the way that our group meshed was extraordinary, and each personality complimented the rest. Once we were on the water, I was blown away at how seemingly effortless it was for them to incorporate what they had learned just a few hours earlier. There were times when they had questions, but the majority of the time each woman had a stretch of water to herself to tune out any life stressors, find her rhythm, and just be. Watching those six women stretched out over hundreds of yards along the river, casting well and genuinely enjoying themselves was a sight I doubt I will forget. Here and there, one of the women would have a strike and the resounding chorus of support from the rest of the group brought smile after smile to my face. I was reminded that fishing isn’t all about catching fish; rather, it is a time to take a break from our busy lives, connect with nature and enjoy a moment in time that is utterly peaceful.
Time absolutely flies when you’re having fun. 6:00 PM rolled around and we said our goodbyes, but made plans to meet up again soon for an evening of fishing… Just two days after the clinic, I checked my inbox and was delighted to hear that the ladies were practicing casting on their own time. I expected a degree of enthusiasm after the clinic, but this has truly exceeded my expectations.
For all of you ladies out there who are hesitant to get into fly fishing, I strongly encourage you to reach out to us here at Picabo Angler and leave us your contact info, so that we may reach back to you when we pick a date for our next women’s clinic! Fishing can do wonders for one’s soul.
Hope to see you out on the river soon!
- Phoebe Bean