Voices from the river

Voices from the River: Women connect on Wyoming float

Editor’s note: This piece originally ran on the White Mountain Woman blog.

By Robin Robison

As an avid female angler, I am always looking for ways to connect with other women who love to be on the water. I have been fishing my entire life and some of my favorite memories are of time spent on the water with my dad.

I began fly fishing about five or six years ago. It was something I had wanted to learn for a long time, but was somewhat hesitant to let anyone know. I don’t have a really good reason why; it just didn’t seem at the time that there were a lot of women participating. I also am more of an academic than an athlete, so I kind of wanted to learn in secret just in case I was really bad at it. But when I finally confessed to my husband that I really wanted to learn to fly fish, he was very supportive, and got me started right away.

The author floating the Green River in Wyoming during the annual Seedskadee TU Chapter Women’s Float.

The problem I found in my area though, was that without a local fly shop, it didn’t seem like there were a lot of resources out there for women wanting to learn to fly fish. I could see that shops around Wyoming and surrounding states were holding events, and I was able to take some lessons from a master fly fisherman in Jackson, Wyoming, but realistically, attending events several hours away is not practical and somewhat intimidating to someone who still feels like they are an amateur fly fisher. The paradoxical part of this dilemma was that that was the very thing that drew me to fly fishing, the fact that it was more complex than just throwing out a worm and waiting.

I started seeing that there were events put on by the local Trout Unlimited chapter. I was interested in getting involved with this group, but it seemed that every time I wanted to attend something, I had a family obligation that trumped it.

The same with events around the state (and even in Utah and Colorado) that other women’s groups were holding. Understand that when you have several children as I do, family things take over quite often.

So, when the Seedskadee Chapter of Trout Unlimited announced the annual women’s float, I signed up immediately. I decided I would just plan around that and make sure it happened. I loved that the cost was only $50, very affordable in comparison with a guided day on the river. I love a great deal.

Participants in the annual Seedskadee TU Chapter Women’s Float take time to celebrate a fish.

Trout Unlimited is dedicated to focusing on the conservation of freshwater streams, rivers, and associated upland habitats for trout, salmon, other aquatic species, and people. That’s from their website.

What that translates to in real life is that their employees and members work to improve and conserve fisheries and watersheds through work done to help improve the places where trout live. A good example is the Our Seedskadee chapter’s work on Gooseberry Creek. They also encourage the healthy use and enjoyment of those fish habitats. This is where the idea of the Women’s Float comes in; it is an effort to encourage more women to not only become involved in the chapter’s work, but to be more active on the water too.

I am naturally a very introverted person by nature. That’s why I do well as an Accountant. Going to participate in an event where I don’t know another soul is way out of my comfort zone. I could see that most of the women appeared to have come in pairs and I was alone. But as it turned out, my partner on the boat was Amy, a very active member of the Seedskadee Chapter; a woman I had known of but not actually met while growing up. Amy’s older sister and I were in the same class, and somehow that added a level of comfort to the experience. Amy, and our guide, Reed, were so friendly that I was immediately put at ease.

Once on the water, fishing and the love of being outside took over and I was home. My boat partners acted as if we were old friends, which helped a lot too. The fishing was a bit slow, we did catch some babies, and I lost a good-sized rainbow.

Searching for fish during the annual Seedskadee TU Chapter Women’s Float.

But the day wasn’t just about catching fish. It was about spending the day on the water, enjoying the weather and having fun being outside. It was about learning to fish, or learning to read the water, or learning to appreciate our area and our natural resources. It was about appreciating what women can bring to fishing, and what they can take from it.

A participant in the annual Seedskadee TU Chapter Women’s Float enjoys the thrill of success.

What did I love most about the Trout Unlimited Women’s Float? Everything. I loved that it was such a relaxing atmosphere: no pressure, no judgment. I loved that my boat mate was so good at casting that she could work around some of my periodic wild casting. I loved that there were so many women who showed up to get out on the water, many of them for the first time. I loved that even when the fishing was slow, there was none of the urgency that you sometimes feel on a guided float. And I loved that I was able to just enjoy spending a day out on the water, with other women, with a common interest. And there aren’t many more affordable ways to experience fly fishing on the river for the first time, with knowledgeable escorts, and the ability to borrow gear if needed.

So if you have been wanting to try fly fishing, or want to connect with others on the water, men or women, look into your local Trout Unlimited chapter to see if it might be an avenue for you to find like-minded friends, find fishing partners, and get involved in helping to conserve the waters we all love so much.

By Brett Prettyman.