Southwest Wyoming Women's Float 2015
By Hillary Walrath
As the sun set on a big Wyoming sky five camper trailers and four tents sat empty. A yummy chicken and potato dinner with an apple-cranberry crisp dessert simmered in Dutch ovens.
The camp was vacant.
Down on the river’s edge, 18 women lined up for an evening casting class. They had traveled from all over southwest Wyoming to attend a weekend-long camping and fishing event hosted by the Seedskadee and Upper Bear River chapters of Trout Unlimited for the second annual Women’s Float.
The idea is to give women a chance to learn about fly-fishing in a fun, supportive and hands-on environment.
Nineteen women - including participants from Wyoming, Utah and Colorado – attended the first Women’s Float in the fall of 2014.
Everyone had so much fun the chapters decided to extend the event and make it a full weekend camping adventure. The ladies got a quick introduction to fly casting on Friday night, followed by a scrumptious dinner and some campfire bonding. Everyone was excited and things got off to a great start when two fish were caught during the lesson.
The following crisp September morning, the women rose bright and early for breakfast and to meet their volunteer fishing guides for the day.
Nine boats were sent to three river sections along the Green River to ensure everyone had access to fresh, fishy water. The morning turned into a beautiful warm day without a breath of the “W- word”.
The fishing proved to be a little tough, but the women got to try out a variety of fishing techniques - dry flies, nymphs and streamers. Some even got to try Tenkara and spey rod casting!
Most of the women ended up catching a fish – their first on a fly rod for many.
The wildlife cooperated: bald eagles, moose, deer and even a garter snake wanted to check in on the action.
After a full and fun day of fishing, everyone gathered back at camp for Dutch oven ribs and stories.
The Upper Bear River chapter generously donated a fly rod and reel package that was raffled off at the end of the night. The lady who won had never fly fished before that day and was excited to take it out.
Other prizes were handed out for biggest fish and best fishing story - a boat plug popping out mid-float took home that prize. The campsite was buzzing with chatter about how amazing the day was and how everyone knew what they were asking from Santa for Christmas.
“My friend Judi caught her first trout on a fly rod. I caught a really nice fish and had an amazing experience. I was really impressed with how professional and friendly everyone in the chapter was,” said Jennifer Schmidt of Evanston, Wyoming. “In fact some of the ladies I met I will probably fish with in the future.”
That evening some people headed home, but many chose to camp out an extra night. As the sun set on another beautiful Wyoming day 18 women had new friendships and passion for their local river.
Hillary Walrath is the salinity control coordinator for the Henry’s Fork of the Green River. She works out of Green River, Wyoming.