Press-Republican

May 12, 2013

Fly fishing weekend excellent chance for women

By Elizabeth Lee, Living With Wilderness
Press-Republican

---- — Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the outdoors.

My mother taught me almost everything I know about gardening and we spent many hours sharing our love of trees and plants, but shared very little in the way of outdoor sports.

Over time I turned to other mentors for outdoor skills and knowledge. Whether family, friends or strangers, the community of people who love the outdoors are wholeheartedly generous and willing to share their experience — and their gear.

For women who seek adventure, there is a great opportunity coming up.

In June, the Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited is hosting a weekend program for women who want to learn more about fly fishing. Some of the most well-known women fly-fishing instructors in New York state are coming to Plattsburgh to join local volunteers — both men and women — who have been planning the weekend. Scheduled for June 22 and 23, instructors Lindsay Agness from Rochester and Vicki Lane from Syracuse will join local leaders Janice Opal and Paula Piatt to offer both classroom instruction and field experience.

Streams and rivers have a magic that make you want to be near them, but it isn’t always easy, literally or figuratively, to get right in. Fly fishing has been the way in for many women. Fly fishing creates relationships — with water, with rods and reels and sometimes boats, and of course with fish. But also, fly fishing creates relationships with people. There are plenty of enthusiastic writers and outspoken storytellers, but there are also amazing mentors.

Fly fishing has been sensationalized in some ways that turn women off but the upcoming weekend is a chance for women to learn without pressure. Whether or not you become an expert at catching fish, it’s impossible not to feel more connected to nature.

The feeling of wilderness and the graceful motion of the cast will lure new anglers off shorelines and into the flow. The rods are uncomplicated and lightweight. And it is even possible to come to peace with insects and other bothersome thoughts when you are knee deep in cool water and outwitting a fish.

Trout Unlimited National is seeking to engage more women anglers and is offering a free one-year introductory membership to new members. All the women who attend the Plattsburgh seminar will receive a membership with their registration, but any woman wishing to join can find out more by visiting their website: http://www.tumembership.org/women.

True to the generosity of the outdoor industry, this year LL Bean donated rod/reel outfits and nets to the Lake Champlain TU Chapter through a gear give-away program.

In addition, many of the local chapter board members are donating to the program by tying flies to fill donated fly boxes and by making wading staffs with materials donated by General Composites, Inc. Volunteers will be on hand throughout the weekend providing instruction in fly tying and casting as well as helping out on the river on both days. Lake Champlain Chapter Board member and seminar organizer Jan Opal says that members are collecting gear to help participants have a jump start on their new lives as fly-fishing enthusiasts.

The June 22-23 weekend is limited to 12 participants and is extremely affordable — $50 pays for the weekend’s full agenda as well as breakfast and lunch Saturday and breakfast Sunday. To register for the seminar or to make a donation, contact Opal at jopal@charter.net.

Elizabeth Lee is a licensed guide who lives in Westport. She leads recreational and educational programs focused in the Champlain Valley throughout the year. Contact her at lakeside5047@gmail.com.