December 15th, 2008

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Fly Fishing — A Woman's Perspective
By Kathryn Randal, Australia

My husband Jeff (Bassboy on FAOL) has enjoyed fishing for the most part of his life. He started as I guess most fishermen do with the spinning reel and salt water in front of him. Over the years he has progressed through rock fishing to river fishing for our native Bass. While Jeff still enjoys Bass fishing he is just as keen nowadays on fly fishing both salt water species and of course fresh water species, especially trout.

This meant that Jeff's knowledge of fishing fundamentals, fishing gear, lines, methods of fishing, stream craft etc are much better than my own and that can be an inhibiting factor in women fishing alongside their partners.

Although I always enjoyed catching fish, my experience was very limited and very raw. I decided a little while back that I wanted to participate more in Jeff's fly-fishing world and went along to a casting practice day being held by his fly fishing club, Lakeside.

Lakeside is a club which encourages women to participate on equal footing with the men. I was immediately impressed with the welcome I received and the total lack of sexism displayed. I met several other women club members there who embraced my attendance and encouraged me to join the club. This initial experience was probably the most important factor in my deciding to sign up. I felt like I would be valued. Nobody claimed to be an expert– in fact everybody I met was humble about their own abilities. Fly fishing is a sport, they said, but also an art form that was always going to teach you something new.

So I signed up for fly casting lessons with our club's resident instructor, Jeff Brown. Jeff Brown runs his own guiding business and is a qualified fly casting instructor. This was just the sort of instruction I needed. I didn't want my Jeff teaching me. I suppose it is much like a husband trying to teach his wife/partner how to drive! Jeff Brown said not to listen to Jeff about anything other than where a fish might be and he told my Jeff diplomatically that he could inadvertently teach me bad habits if he tried to instruct me further. I was happy about that! It is enough to know yourself when you have maybe cast the wrong way or messed it up…we don't need to be told any further!

On the day, another member named Deborah said she thought hat casting was a bit like meditation. I have to agree with her there. The mind is so focussed on casting to a particular spot that nothing else enters your thoughts! By the time I had finished my casting lesson I was absolutely relaxed and hadn't a worry about anything else all day.

I decided to join the Lakeside Fishing Club. I now attend their monthly meetings where everybody talks about where they have fished, what happened, any fish caught, upcoming events etc. There is a real sense of comradeship borne from a love of fishing and the enjoyment it provides. The achievements of all are applauded.

Our club provides numerous outings during the year and it was to these outings I wanted to go with Jeff to enjoy the weekend away, participate in lovely natural settings and enjoy the company of these new people.

My first trip was to stay at Adaminaby and fish the Eucembene River in our Snowy Mountains. The opening weekend of the trout fishing season was chosen by our club to attend. This just happened to also be a long weekend and so many club members chose to come along.

Fishing the rivers for trout is a limited season starting 4th October 2008 and ending the first weekend in June – of course allowing the trout to spawn and breed in between.

The club managed to book a small cabin park allowing everyone to either share a cabin or couples to have their own. A large BBQ area in the middle of the park meant that we also had a great place to gather at the end of the day.

Jeff and I toured along the river looking for a good spot to park ourselves for the day. We met up with several of our fellow club members as well. In fact, many more people had come to the area to fish the river of course because it was opening day! This created quite a crowded scene at times with fisher people trying to claim a piece of the river for themselves.

Part of the Eucembene River

We went climbing over hills following the path of the river looking for a good clear spot which we could fish. In fact, we had trouble finding a spot until one fisher person moved to look farther up the river and left his lovely little spot open.

Eucembene River, Adaminaby NSW Australia.

So we settled down to fishing that part of the river that was left to us. Nice little piece of stream which had both little pools and rocky parts. What fun we had! A few areas in our little spot were harbouring fish and it was really quite relaxing just trying to cast out to where we thought they were. In fact, I used the day as casting practice – never thinking I would actually catch one.

We were there for about 4-5 hours and had a ball. We saw large wombat holes dug into the side of the hills (wombats are a native Australian marsupial- refer, ate lunch by the side of the water and funnily enough caught a few fish!

I was very fortunate to catch two fish on the day. My first was a respectable 47cm (18.5 inches) which is shown in the picture below. My second was a little smaller but just as much fun to catch. Of course, they were both released. I enjoyed every moment of the time I spent there and enjoyed the company of the fishing club members that night around the barbeque telling their tales of the day.

Me and my first catch – a 47cm (18.5") Rainbow Trout

I found a great bunch of people who encourage me in my efforts at fly fishing and are non-judgemental about both my gender and technique but at the same time very happy to assist me when I need it and applaud my efforts. This will always set the scene for any interested woman to become involved in the sport and I encourage those out there who would like their partners to become actively involved with them to do the same.

I will certainly be taking more lessons in the future to correct any bad habits I'm picking up and learn some more – for I have lots to learn! I take enjoyment from not only the varied and beautiful surroundings we find ourselves in when fishing but also from the learning, the people and my efforts to constantly improve.

Jeff (Bassboy) fishing the Eucembene River ~ Kathryn Randal

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