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Female Fly Anglers Trying To Reel More Women To The River

Sep 18, 2017 09:00AM ● By Editor
September 17, 2017 11:03 PM By Rachel Slavik - WCCO CBS Minnesota

 NORTH SHORE, Minn. (WCCO) — In Tettegouche State Park, divine views line the Baptism River.

Lisa Murphy and Courtney Darst visit the park often but they are more focused on what’s in the water.

“We’re trying to fish for pink salmon and they’re spawning,” said Murphy, who fly fishes on the North Shore. “We have salmon coming up to here and, above this, we also have trout, so there are many options for catching different species. It’s perfect here.”

From spring through fall, these ladies try to reel in a wide variety of sport fish, a conquest made more challenging on a 9-foot fly rod.

“When you’re fly fishing, you’re depending on the line. You’re not depending on the gear itself,” Murphy said. “We’re always moving. Whether we’re walking in the water, whether we’re fishing, whether we are re-tying, there’s always stuff to do.”

“It is a lot more difficult because you’re not just standing in one spot and reeling it in,” Darst added. “You’re steering the fish.”

This is more than just fully-engaged fishing, there’s also an endless learning curve.

“Every day, it’s something different and it’s a constant evolving sport,” Darst said. “I love it.”
The nuance and technique tend to make fly fishing the less popular option in angling. Murphy and Darst don’t mind, because they are used to standing out in a crowd.
“It’s a male dominated sport, especially on the North Shore,” Darst said. “You don’t see too many pony tails bouncing around alongside the rivers.”
Murphy, who started fly fishing eight years ago, wanted to encourage more women to try the sport.

Last year, she started the Minnesota Steelheaders: Women on the Fly program.
“The goal is to be a resource for women, get more women involved,” Murphy said. “It can be intimidating learning and it’s just knowledge you build over time.”
Through education and clinics, she’s hoping to take away the intimidation factor of fly fishing while teaching the necessary information.

“There’s just a certain learning element that’s a lot easier when you’re under instruction of someone, when someone is teaching you, and guiding you, and helping you understand,” Murphy said. “The women I’ve seen in the clinics we’ve done, they really take to it.”
Darst, who started fly fishing two years ago, joined the education effort this summer.
“I was like, game on,” she said. “Let’s get as many women into this as we possibly can.”

One of the lessons that any angler learns quickly is that anyone can have a difficult day on the water.

“I’ve learned a lot of patience, doing this is a lot of patience,” Murphy said.
Luckily, a rushing river offers many opportunities, allowing for different technique and the chance to fish for different species.

“It is common to move,” Murphy said. “A lot of people will start either at the top of a river or end of a river and work their way up or down.”

In fishing, many anglers define success in the day’s catch. For Murphy and Darst, the real reward is the chance to share their knowledge and recruit other women into their beloved sport.

“It’s empowering to be a woman and do this by yourself,” Murphy said.
“You keep coming back, because it’s worth it,” Darst said.

To learn more about the Women on the Fly program, click here.
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