Reel women on the fly
LEFT: Kari Sewell holds a brown trout caught on Green River in Utah. TOP: Sewell holds a rainbow trout on the Gunnison River.
Reasons to fish By Melanie Wiseman
omen nationwide are hanging up their tennis rackets and golf clubs, and picking up fly rods instead. The fastest growing demographic in fly fishing, women and girls now comprise more than 30 percent of American anglers, and 40 percent of these women are over the age of 45. Though women are flocking to the sport, they’re not new to fly fishing. Joan Wulff, 90, started when she was just 10 years old and remains the leading female fly fisher in the world. She outcast men as the National Casting Champion from 1943-1960, and has a fly-fishing school in the Catskills of New York. Jeff McKenna,
manager of Western Anglers in Grand Junction, said when he guides fly-fishing trips, women always catch more fish than the men. “They listen, which is key, and have more patience,” he said. “They are quicker studies and seem to enjoy it more without the competitiveness that’s typical of men.” The growing number of women anglers has spurred Western Anglers owner Ned Mayers to offer Ladies’ Night several times a year. These popular gatherings of women of all ages and skill levels offer fly fishing speakers, support, friendships, merchandise discounts, and a little wine to boot. “This is where we live,” said Mayers, referring to the rich fly-fishing country in Western Colorado. “Take advantage of it. It’s never too late to start.”
Mayers’ wife, Colette, 47, is also an avid fly-fisher. Working at Whiting Farms in Delta, a leading worldwide source of fly-tying hackle, she gets to share her passion with coworkers and customers. She enjoys the peace that comes with fly fishing, but she especially loves to fly fish with other women. “It’s a great de-stresser,” she said. “I can have a great day and not catch a single fish.” Colette said she’s often caught off guard when she catches a fish because she’s mesmerized by the scenery and life of the river—the wildflowers on the bank, the insects, the sounds of the water and fish waving against the current. “Fly fishing almost forces you to let your mind rest and we don’t do that enough,” she said.
On the flip side, Lennie Watson, a 67-year-old nurse, finds pleasure in the challenge and the technical aspects of fly fishing. “I look forward to the planning and anticipation, as well as actually catching the fish,” she said. Pondering strategy is rewarding for Watson, as she considers factors such as the best fly to use, water temperature, weather and time of year. “I want to learn everything I can about every aspect of fly fishing and how you use your mind, skill and body,” she said. Being a volunteer on Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife Commission for five years opened her eyes to the sport. She took a class with the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife and was excited to hit the water. “Wherever you fly fish is probably one of the most beautiful places you can ever be,” said Watson. “Time flies and the whole world falls away.” While Kari Sewell was growing up, her mom and brother were obsessed
MD Beacon March 2017