Women of the Fly
By Hillary Walrath
It was a beautiful September Saturday, 75 degrees, sunny and no wind. The Green River was running steady and mostly clear. Ten boats floated around the gorgeous Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. Although this might sound like a typical autumn day on the Green, the kicker was that each of these boats was filled with fly fishing women! That’s right, the women outnumbered the men that day on the water.
This anomaly was made possible thanks to the Seedskadee, Upper Bear River, Popo Agie Anglers Chapters of Trout Unlimited and the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge combining forces and hosting the first Women of the Fly Float on the Green River. It all started with a casting clinic at a park in Green River the Wednesday before the float. Sixteen women showed up to have small group casting lessons from chapter volunteers. It was a windy evening, but all of the ladies left with some basic knowledge of how to fly fish.
Ladies traveled from Evanston, Afton, Lander, Casper, Green River, Dubois and even Vernal, UT to make it to the float on Saturday! They met up with their guides at the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge headquarters bright and early and took their new skills to the water. Ten gracious guides volunteered their time, boats and gear to float a total of nineteen women down several sections of the Green. The day was filled with sun, fish, laughter and fun. The goal of the event was to boost female participation with the sport of fly fishing and local TU chapters. When all of the ladies gathered back at the headquarters for a BBQ dinner, the huge smiles on everyone’s faces made it very clear that we met that goal. For most of the women, they had caught their very first fish on a fly rod that day. According to Jen Kendall, “Today I became a believer. Best day I’ve had in a long time.” It was a sentiment shared by all that day and hopefully will stick with those ladies for the rest of their lives.
A big “THANK YOU” to all of the volunteers who made this event possible, including the TU chapter members, guides, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, Wind River Outdoor Company and the awesome folks who helped shuttle and get food ready. They include Tom and Shelley Koerner, Calvin and Amy Hazlewood, Nick Walrath, Pat Newell, Pete Hallberg, Mike Brown, Ron Hansen, Gary Collins, Joe Skorupski, Robb Keith, Jeff Judkins, Jim Hissong, Rick Slagowski, Charlie Card, Clint Kendall, Clark Johnson, and Jay Westre. Fly fishing can be an intimidating sport to get into, but thanks to the efforts of all of our volunteers these ladies are now “hooked.”