Written by: Mary Griffith, Orvis Associate
Because I was raised in a family of fly fishermen, the sport has become a necessary component of my lifestyle, as integral to my identity as my DNA. With that being said, I am constantly looking for ways to fish more often. I think for women especially, as passionate as we may be about the sport, there are specific barriers that can make it difficult to get on the water. While I’m lucky to work in an industry that surrounds me with “fishing buddies,” many women have a hard time finding people to fish with; and fishing alone is not always the best idea, especially in more remote locations.
Personally, my biggest barrier is making time to fish. Even when a day off work allows me the opportunity to fish, I often feel guilty about the errands I didn’t run, or the laundry I should have done instead. And as a female in my mid-twenties, I’ve reached that stage where every weekend (and dollar) seems to be devoted to engagement parties and weddings. Also, many people have the misconception that in order to fly fish, you have to travel out West, or to some exotic location you’ve seen in a movie or fishing show. I’ve noticed that many fishermen, both men and women, often miss opportunities because it just seems too inconvenient. Thoroughly depressed yet? Fortunately, there is a simple solution to all of these setbacks. Fish locally!
While some locations certainly offer more fishing than others, with a little research any fisherman can find somewhere to fish nearby. For those of us who don’t live near a trout stream, a local golf course or neighborhood pond is usually teeming with bass, carp, or pan fish. You can go by yourself, with little to no planning, and committing as much time as you can allow. This is a great way for beginners to fish without worrying about moving water or overhanging branches. It also provides time on the water to improve your casting, so it isn’t rusty when you do take that once-in-a-lifetime trip. The added benefit is that while it may not be a trophy brown, a 4-inch bluegill can be a really bring a smile to your face after a stressful day at work!
If you have a day to spend and a buddy to go with, look a little farther. Many fishermen can reach a coldwater or saltwater fishery within a couple of hours – it’s definitely worth the early morning if you can snag a few hours of fishing and land a fish or two. On the East Coast, we’re lucky to have both freshwater and saltwater fisheries within a few hours’ drive. In my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina we have trout streams two hours to the north, and amazing coastal redfishing three hours in the other direction.
Just recently, after a little research, my boss invited me to investigate a little-known trout fishery he had just discovered within an hour and a half of Charlotte. With improvements from recent dam relicensing along with support from the local TU chapter, this tailwater on the Catawba River (which is known primarily as the source of several large lakes, the area’s drinking water, hydropower, and a lot of bass) will soon become a trophy trout fishery. Even without these developments, and although we had to do a little work to figure out what we were doing, I was thrilled at the end of our day to catch the largest wild brown I’ve ever seen in NC. The most revealing aspect of this trip was realizing the massive effects of local conservation efforts such as establishing minimum flow regulations on dams, improving the quality of feeder streams, and stocking healthy trout. Discovering this tailwater has made me appreciate not only the importance of looking for local fishing opportunities, but also the potential for creating them, as well.