It’s Fly Gal Friday!
We are so excited for today’s #FlyGalFriday featured angler! For the past 3 weeks we’ve gotten to know some amazing women of Fly Fishing, but today you are in for a special treat. Kate is not only a skilled angler, but also happens to be an extremely talented writer. Get ready to fall in love with one of our favorite women in the industry.
Your name or any nicknames you have?
Kate, Katie, Pixie
Where are you at in the world? Where will you be fishing this year?
I shuffle between Colorado Springs, and Cascade, Colorado. I love being in Cascade because it’s closer to fishing. I was born and raised in Colorado, so I’m pretty habituated to this state and all it’s beauty. This year I will be fishing in Montana, Colorado, maybe New Mexico, and hopefully Washington. Some summer trips I have lined up in Colorado are Gore Canyon and the Indian Peaks.
What river(s) and lake(s) do you guide/fish?
I primarily fish the South Platte River in several locations. 11 Mile Canyon is one of my favorites because that’s where I learned. The Dream Stream is always a fun challenge, and I love fishing the Arkansas especially during those long winter months. Grape Creek is a small stream that I frequent as well. When I travel more regionally for fishing trips, I like to fish the Roaring Fork, the Frying Pan, the Uncompahgre, the Taylor, and the East River.
How long have you been guiding/fly fishing?
I picked up a fly rod for the first time in 2010, after I moved from Oregon to Colorado. My dad got me an Orvis PractiCaster for the backyard, and we would fish while camping, but nothing really stuck with me. In the last two years my learning has really accelerated, and I’ve dedicated a lot of time to angling. Guiding is something I’m just now getting into, and I’m excited to learn and grow through it. I really would like to focus on guiding women, children, and couples that are new to fly fishing.
What got you into fly fishing? When did you start?
My dad is a Montana native, so inevitably my interest in fly fishing was stimulated by him. He’s an accomplished angler and tier; I’ve always admired that about him. So, the seed was there, it was just a matter of finding the maturity and guidance to get me confident enough to fully enjoy it. My partner, Andy, is really the one who took the time to teach me. I expressed interest in it, since he was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains, and started fly fishing at age 7, he was the perfect mentor for me. Eventually, all of our dates turned into fishing adventures, and through his patience and encouragement, I’ve really improved as an angler.
As a woman guide/fly angler, you’re definitely in the minority. What made you decide to be a guide/angler?
I feel strongly that my gender shouldn’t put limitations on the activities and hobbies that I enjoy. As a kid, I was undoubtedly a tomboy from the get go, holding my dad and big brother in the highest regard, and always trying to get in on what they were doing. Whether they were hiking Pike’s Peak, riding dirt bikes, fishing, camping, playing basketball or slinging arrows at the archery range, I was typically at their heels waiting for my turn, and sometimes told I was too little and having to stay home with Mom. At some point I believe I developed a complex that I was either slowing them down or not good enough to be participating, which left me feeling perplexed about what I really enjoy. Fly fishing changed that for me. Sometimes I have days where I catch more fish, or bigger fish than my dad or Andy. I’m not competitive by nature, but it’s a rewarding feeling to know I’m competent enough to be at their level of angling.
Has the fact you’re a woman ever been an issue with a client (such as them hitting on you or maybe talking down to you? If so how did you deal with it/them?
Absolutely. I’ve experienced it a lot in fly shops, where the staff will patronize me in a way that essentially discredits my skill as an angler, because I’m a woman. I’ve noticed in shops, male staff members tend to really dumb it down while talking to me, and offer unsolicited advice. On the river, we’ll pass older men, and they’ll say things to my dad or Andy like, “Careful, don’t want the lady out fishing you today!” and literally laugh in my face. The worst circumstance I’ve experienced was with a gear company. After accepting an ambassadorship, it was evident that the company was using and exploiting women to market themselves. The company owner made several inappropriate comments to me through phone conversations, emails, and texts. Needless to say, it didn’t last long. I’m pretty cautious now when I’m approached by companies because I want to represent a company for my merit and skill in fly fishing, not because of my looks. As a woman, I think the best way to deal with discrimination in this industry is to keep your head high, set your boundaries, go with your gut if someone is making you uncomfortable, stick up for yourself, stand your ground, and keep fishing.
Do you think being a woman gives you a different perspective as a guide? If so, how?
In any realm, women have many extraordinary qualities that contribute to the balance of our world. Through our ability to nurture and empathize, we can provide perspectives that are often overlooked in a dominantly patriarchal society. How can this be applied to fly fishing? We see fish a little differently. We don’t only handle them with awareness and delicacy, but we become saddened by any abrasion we see on them, and we worry and think about their future. When we release them, we are thankful, and wonder where they are going to return to. Our casts are light but ambitious, and our balance while wading is keen. We try drifting in parts of the river many overlook. If we are guiding you, you won’t see us acting superior to you and more knowledgeable than you, like so many guides often do. We will encourage you, help you if you need it, and give advice without judgment. We will not scold you for casting wrong, or not setting the hook in time. Female anglers and guides can potentially shape a whole new philosophy of fly fishing, but first we need acceptance and willingness to be heard.
How can the fly fishing industry and community encourage more women to get involved?
I think there are a lot of approaches to get more women into fly fishing. The more exposure we get as lady anglers through social media, publications, films, and sponsorships, the more likely we are to attract new women into angling. Next time you go fishing, invite your wife or girlfriend. Rent her some waders, pack a picnic, and plan a day together. Don’t just hand her the fly rod and expect her to figure it out, show your best patience and devote your attention to teaching her, it’s actually quite romantic. If you have daughters, take them fishing. Show them at a young age that their gender doesn’t define what hobbies they should enjoy or participate in. Lastly, I think bringing the female angling community together really creates a strong foundation. When I started fishing with other women, fly fishing completely changed for me. I gained more confidence and independence, I could go more often, and I learned to do things myself.
What’s your favorite new piece of gear?
My most prized possessions are my Women’s Specific Scott A4 5wt and my Ross CLA2 reel. Since I fish year-round, I can’t live without my SmartWool base layer. I really love my Redington Siren-Kate waders because I’m petite and it’s hard to find waders that fit properly.
Best catch of all time?
I was at the Dream Stream with my dad on a late summer afternoon, and we were getting skunked. Out of nowhere, I caught this beautiful brown. I had never caught a brown that size before, and it really gave me a run for my money. I was still a pretty amateur angler at that point, so landing a fish like that was really exciting. It wasn’t huge, but I remember the adrenaline just made my hands shake and I couldn’t stop smiling. I think that day my dad saw how much I had grown to love fly fishing, and how hard I had been working at it, and I think I could see in his eyes that he was proud of me. I’ll never forget it.
Honestly I feel like every time I take a trip in Colorado to a new river, I’m living in a dream. I feel so blessed to live in a state that has so many great places to fish. If I could go anywhere though, Alaska, Patagonia, and New Zealand are at the top of my list!
What are some of the best places you’ve been fishing?
Since I’ve mostly fished in Colorado, I’d have to say my most recent favorites are the Roaring Fork and the Uncompahgre. We caught some really nice, big fish out of those rivers over spring break. I’m pretty eager to get back there. I haven’t fished in Montana since I was little, but my family has a trip planned soon that I’m looking forward to.
How do people get ahold of you for guiding / sponsorship?
Feel free to follow me on Instagram: @pixiek8
For sponsorship and guiding inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org