I never know what to say when people ask how I got into fly fishing. To be honest, it was a void I didn’t know existed until the day I had to fill it. My Dad, who had fly fished a little when he was young, tied a fly onto an old bamboo rod I found in the garage. He gave me some pointers and sent me on my way. I hopped in the ditch that ran behind our cabin. “If you can fish a ditch you can anywhere” he said. Several trees were snagged, lines snapped, and flies lost, but eventually I found my groove. A few days later I invested in a fly rod, one from this decade, and the rest was history. While my dad was right, I could fish anywhere, catching was proving to be something different.
As a self-taught female angler who had never fly fished before I was probably 0 for 20 when I started out. I knew it would happen one day and for the most part I just enjoyed being on the water. I was fishing in the Snowy Range, watching a yellow sally drift across the water when suddenly a trout felt sorry enough for me to strike. Unknowingly, I set the hook, my adrenaline was pumping, my mind was racing, “wait, wait, wait I don’t know what I am doing, I don’t even have a net!” When the panic subsided and instinct took over all I could feel was the rush. I was reeling in my first ever fish at the base of the mountain on Lake Marie, and it was in that moment I knew my life was different.
Since that day, fishing has been everything for me. It’s an escape, a passion, a drug. It’s like the 90’s rap song you listen to on repeat, the reason your bank account is missing a 0, and the only good thing behind a 4 am alarm. I gain a deeper respect for the outdoors, the fish, and the dedication it takes to be an angler every time I leave the water. I’m constantly looking to meet new people and explore places I’ve never been.
As intimidating as it is, I try to hit new water as often as possible. Knowing the ratio of men to women will likely be 20:1 provides little fuel for my self-esteem. Regardless, I toss my line and more often than not I feel the tug, I raise my rod, the line goes tight. Fish on! Then, I’m reminded why I’m there. However, sometimes the strike never comes. You can be doing everything right but if you’re holding your mouth wrong, the fish won’t bite. Those are the days I am humbly reminded of all I have to learn and am grateful for the trips that end differently.
A month or so ago I decided to venture out to the Laramie Plains Lakes. I stepped into the water a ways down from where a group of guys from Colorado were fishing. Their rods were bent up at least every 6th cast. One after the other they were reeling in trout. I, on the other hand, was busy changing flies, throwing my line into knots and not catching fish. I was having one of “those” days. After a while I overheard one of the guys say, “Juan, that girl wants to catch a fish so bad she can barely stand it. You better go tell her to come fish with us.” I was of course embarrassed they had noticed the train wreck I was enacting, but I didn’t care, redemption was on the way and I knew I needed help. They made some fly suggestions, made a spot for me on the water and before I could thank them I found myself tight-lined cast after cast. One of the guys on shore couldn’t believe it, he kept laughing and yelling, “there she goes again with the old hook in the mouth trick.” It was an amazing day, one I will remember forever.
Not all trips to the water are created equal but one thing is for certain, they are always worth it. For the women who have paved the way, I thank you. Being a female in any male dominated sport is challenging and we wouldn’t be this far without you. For those of us who are just getting our feet wet, don’t give up. Be patient, be confident, be the last one out of the water. I promise you, there is room for us.
My name is Abby Roich, I have been fly fishing out of Wyoming for 1 year, 3 months and 14 days.
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