So, I am stuck in the house while the river goes through the annual spring time run off episode. After a small taste of the river side life I hate being stuck inside for extended periods of time. Things are waking up out there. Spring brings about new life, and I love being out and about among it all.
A lot of the time I am out there alone enjoying it all. But when I am guiding its almost always with a pair of people. Some anglers have been fishing partners for decades, some are trying out different people to see if they mesh well riverside. Some are long time friends, co-workers, family, you name it I have seen it when it comes to clients. One thing I have seen change since I started back in this industry 10 years ago is the amount of women and young anglers getting involved. I can tell you that I have a large portion of my client base in the women and anglers under 35 demographics.
I fish with a myriad of people. Its one of my favorite parts of the job, the social part. Meeting all those different people you get to learn, see, hear, converse, with others that are typically far different from you in many ways, but also share common interests…hence the fishing. This makes you cultured, it opens your eyes to others, it allows you to get a different perspective by being with other people that you may not necessarily spend time with otherwise. That’s a big part of the job of guide…being able to be around all different types of people and facilitate an enjoyable experience for the clients.
There is a lot happening in the industry right now. Women are finally prevalent in the sport, and not just to sell gear…everyday I am delighted to read articles from women in the industry talking about their struggle, how they came up in to the sport, the challenges they face. I hear it from my clients regularly. As a father of two daughters one of which wants to learn to row the boat and hold lines on the river this year, and the other turning 4 this month continually asks when we are going to go fishing. I want my daughters to grow up knowing that the fly fishing community and industry is inclusive and filled with strong outspoken women that are as passionate as the rest of the anglers and guides out there. I know several women, mentors of mine, women I look up to as anglers and guides that have inspired me to become a better angler and guide myself. I want my children, including my son, to grow up seeing fly fishing as a place for all to enjoy the outdoors, and the places that fish live. I say it all the time…trout don’t care what job you have, what color your skin is, where you go to church, how old you are, how much skill you have, or what you have between your legs. Trout and the river are an equalizer…I have witnessed a 10 year old girl with no prior experience, through listening and hard work, cast, trick, play and land more fish than her dad of 30 years experience and it being a stiff competition to say the least….she also did it in her pajamas as the trip started at 5 am last summer. I watched a mentor of mine Molly Semenick, play a beast of a brown trout for 8 minutes…no one else could have landed that fish that day…I have spent the past 3 seasons teaching and fishing with women anglers that are just as skillful, passionate, and knowledgeable about fly fishing than any of the men in the industry I have met.
I hear the bad stories…and the good…more good than bad though. It’s been a very positive thing in the fly fishing industry and the majority of the stories I hear relating to women and their encounters with the men in this industry are positive. Which is why I encourage anglers of different backgrounds to fish together. Its good for you. Being around the same people all the time can drive you a bit crazy. Getting out of the comfort zone, talking about issues that make your hair prick up, doing all that riverside keeps things pretty sane in my experience. Its hard to have a huge argument when surrounded by a river and rising trout. Besides…you can always just say…shut the hell up and hook that fish. But fish together. I think that if more men and women fished together we would have a lot more good things come about as a result.
I am all for women teaching women, and women specific or women only groups. This is in no way against that kind of stuff happening in the industry. There are plenty of professional women in this sport that have every right to teach, guide, and what have you when it comes to this industry. I feel a little left out as a man sometimes as I too love to learn from others. In my experience as a guide I learn just as much if not more from the women anglers that frequent my boat mostly because it is a newer and different perspective within the sport and I am a sponge. I want to see more women in the rowers throne guiding clients down this river, I am training my eldest daughter in the hopes that she will be rowing riverside beside me before too long. My daughter has already expressed interest in learning from other women in the industry. Mostly because she doesn’t wanna be around Dad all the time, but as a young women herself, I know my daughter would be more inspired if she saw other women out there doing what her dad does. Luckily for her there are lots and even in our own state we have guides and anglers that I can’t wait to introduce her to as she grows up and chases trout and fish on her own. Then I get to do it all again with the second daughter!
So go fish with people. Different people, from all walks of life. Listen, talk, learn, fish, enjoy that human connection over some river and trout. It will be good for you…and who knows…you might find a new fishing buddy that you never would have thought you’d enjoy spending riverside time with.