Reflecting on our recent weekend of fishing the river, I need to give kudos to the wonderful man I married over thirty years ago. John’s a true sportsman in every way and his willingness to share his knowledge, to learn new things together, and to give me space to grow as a sportswoman has made our relationship stronger than ever. I even feel a little guilty that it took me so long to find the love of fishing and hunting.
And so I confess. I say ‘we’ more often than ‘I’, since I never go camping or fishing alone…and I don’t want to. I enjoy OUR time whether it’s just the two of us or the entire family. For me, being an outdoors woman doesn’t mean you have to do outdoors things with only women, or on your own in order to prove yourself. In fact, I think it’s more important to be an ambassador to encourage women to get outdoors…spread the enjoyment and eliminate fears. Share your experiences, skills and knowledge not only with other women, but with family, friends, and yes, even men…anyone so that women aren’t the anomaly when it comes to the outdoors.
Our weekend was fabulous in many ways. We had great weather most of the time. The bugs were minimal, the river was low enough to fish–not ideal, but we could fish it, and we caught lots and lots of fish. We caught fish on wet flies, dry flies, and nymphs. We also saw lots of amazing plants and wildlife: almost ripe blueberries, wild cherries, purple bell flower, a cow moose and her calf right near camp, a whitetail on the island, and crows galore. I saw the first trout ever to jump completely out of the water and then hit my fly on the re-entry, (which I caught and released), our resident rabbit on our way to the pond, and the most beautiful sunset from the canoe immediately followed by the first Hex hatch we had ever seen–right at nightfall. Literally, there were drakes emerging everywhere, fish rising and jumping everywhere, and we couldn’t catch a darned thing because it was getting too dark! Night one closed with campfire happiness with skies so dark the stars seemed endless along the Milky Way and fast moving satellites.
So back to reflecting. I see, smell, hear and experience so many wonderful things that it’s hard to focus on one special thing about my weekend that would have meaning. Except for the one image that keeps going through my mind…the one of a few years ago of this twenty-something woman in waders, fly rod in hand heading out by herself down this long road to fish. She was confident. She walked with purpose and direction and never flinched…and I bet she caught fish. She wasn’t afraid to be alone, or least she didn’t show it, and I wanted to be like her.
I wanted to be able to grab my fly rod, go fishing, not worry about being alone, not being afraid of anything, or having the need to have someone watch after me, as my husband who only means well, would do so often. We’ve fished, but we’ve never fished far from each other, always having each other in our line of sight. At one point, he wanted us to have walkie talkies…we don’t. He wouldn’t fish out of my sight because he was worried about me being harassed by other men, getting hurt or falling in the river. Being a woman on the river is pretty uncommon, and being a woman who fly fishes seems even more unique. I refuse to say being a woman on the river is lonely since I’m never lonely. I wish there were more women on the river; they are truly missing out. Over the years, instead of being a victim of my fears, I’ve decided to walk with a purpose and direction and never flinch…and I catch fish. Fishing and hunting have given me courage to face my fears and I like it!
This year marked the first year that John fished entirely out of my sight, not only for a short time, but for at least couple hours. We just fish; it’s no longer about it being okay if he fishes somewhere else that isn’t where he can see me…and I’m not afraid. He didn’t worry about me as much as he used to, or at least he didn’t show it…and I’m okay with that. I’ve learned to hoot if he’s downwind of me when I catch a fish so he’ll know I really do catch fish.
Of course, John will always be there trying to protect me. He did confess to me at the end of the weekend that as he went down the bridge bank that I walk around through the trail because my knees don’t do downhills, he encountered a very, very large snake. A three-foot-long-brown garter snake. Big and Fat…and he chased it off before I saw it. I have already encountered one snake in that area this season, but it was a small one. Since I don’t like snakes and jump even when I see dead snakes…that snake might have given me a heart attack if it was indeed as big as he said. I know…I’m a work in progress…Thank you Sweetheart…that’s the kind of watching over I need.