Fly Girl Q&A is a new and recurring Fly Life Magazine feature focused on contemporary women in the sport of fly fishing. Enthusiasm and participation by women has never been higher within the sport than it is right now. Enjoy getting to know some of the impressive ladies of our sport…
In what capacity are you currently engaged in the sport of fly fishing?
I write about fishing with the general goal of making it seem more accessible to others who have considered picking up a rod. Having been a little freaked out by knot learning/fish handling/river reading/equipment purchasing when I first started fishing, my literary hope is to save other budding anglers from the intimidation that comes with the fly fishing learning curve.
How were you introduced to the sport?
Well I loved catching bass on my Disney princess spin reel back in the day, but my fly fishing obsession was initiated about four years ago by my ex-boyfriend. It took me a few years to get totally on board with this sport — I wasn’t all that interested in fishing when I first started — but I think going out on my own and finding my own reasons for wanting to fish made me open up to it more. A trip to the Madison River in Montana three years ago also made an impact and kind of lit the fishy fire.
What is it about fly fishing that “keeps you coming back”?
I’m gonna be cliche and go with the meditative qualities of it. Most of the time I go to the river because I’ve got something on my mind that needs worked out; whether I need inspiration for a story, an outlet for a frustration, or I’m just having a full-blown existential crisis (this happens more than I care to admit), the river has been my go-to since I was a kid. It took me a few years to realize the benefit of bringing a rod along, but I’m happy I did. Still, I’ve found that catching fish is usually a bonus, not a goal.
Who were your biggest influences or mentors, male or female?
My dad was a hook and worm kinda dude, but just getting on the water and catching sunfish with him was apparently influence enough. A big writing inspiration for me were Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories — I take pride in the fact that much of his fishing-related work was inspired by my home state. Also, A River Why was the reason I became interested in writing about fishing. That book rules.
What would you consider your home fishery and what do you find so alluring and special about it?
I’ll always feel most at home on the Sturgeon River in Northern Michigan. The Pigeon River also holds a special place in my heart. Both are only a few minutes from my house and are home to some of the wildest stretches of land that I know of. And I mean, these are the rivers that my great grandparents fished during the Great Depression, and now they’re the rivers where I’ve come to learn about everything, from reading water to fooling trout into eating fake bugs. A trout stream is one of the coolest generational bridges I can think of.
What environmental challenges are faced by your fishery?
The State of Michigan just sold 10,000 acres of public land in the Upper Peninsula to a Canadian mining company to be mined for limestone. It’s rather well known that my home fishery sits atop natural gas, and I’m concerned that the precedent set by this recent sale of public land to a private company could in turn affect the other public lands that I love in Michigan.
When you are not fishing,what are you doing?
I’ll just keep it simple and say drinking coffee, writing and keeping busy with whatever seasonal work I can get to support my writing and fishing. I also seem to be picking up new hobbies on a monthly basis. Mountain biking and skiing are my most consistent obsessions outside of being on the river.
You have the day off. What are you fishing for and where?
Most likely bushwhacking through the woods for a chance at some eight-inch brook trout. I can think of only one thing more fun than casting to brookies in sandy little streams, and that’s fishing the hex hatch for big browns on warm summer nights.
What charitable organizations or causes do you support? Why is this important to you?
I just started helping with monthly Trout in the Classroom demonstrations through Trout Unlimited, and have loved seeing how interested these 5th graders are in all the elements of fishing that have fascinated me since I was a little kid. I’m also a member of the Pigeon River County Association. Pigeon River Country is this huge piece of state land in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula (and home to both the Pigeon and Sturgeon Rivers), and I spend as much time as I can out there fishing or morel picking or just walking around aimlessly, so it’s nice to be able to support the people that have a vested interest in its future.
Where would you go to fish if there were zero restrictions on expense, travel, etc…? Why?
I’ve had an unreasonable infatuation with Iceland lately. I have no idea where it came from. I’ve been daydreaming about working at a fishing lodge in Iceland, playing with goats and walking along these big beautiful rivers and meeting guests. Though I’ve heard that Icelandic is a notoriously tough language to learn, my extensive Google-Imaging makes it seem like the culture and landscape are totally worth the language barrier. Hoping to make that trip happen in the near future.