Category: Eco-Spirituality

Go For It

Go For It

So often we put off doing things we love because we think we need a day or half day to accomplish it. Bike ride, hike, walk, fly fishing….the list is endless really. Yesterday, after working all day, I tied a couple flies, gathered my gear and took off for the creek just because I couldn’t not go cast a line. It was one of the best fly fishing ‘days’ I’ve had in a long time.

The total walking time was two hours fifty-one minutes. The total wading and casting time was two hours or less since I had a bit of a walk up the trail before entering the creek. Total mileage was 2.39 miles. During that wading and casting window, I caught three rainbow trout, three brook trout, and one brown trout. That was a total surprise and a slam (the three trout species in our area). And three more trout went for the fly and missed it. They were on fire! And I was a very happy lover of trout magi.

From the first time I cast a fly rod, trout have been my teachers, my guides in learning more about myself and Nature. Even the smallest brookie has given me lessons in tenacity, patience, and trusting my intuition…which really means learning to read water and follow the inner nudge that says, That spot…there. Cast there. Many times that little prompting has yielded a fish dance.

Yesterday, I wasn’t expecting a slam, but was expecting to see fish. The water flow was back to normal instead of rain-swelled flow. It was 70 degrees and sunny so insects should have been hatching. Water temperature was 53 degrees. Sort of perfect conditions. And mayflies were hatching and fluttering with fairy-like flight. 

I could have taken a late-afternoon walk along the river, like I did the day before. But honestly, I couldn’t not wade. I love being in the water, surrounded by it, feeling it push against my legs. I love the challenge of finding a way across a creek, of figuring out where the fly might get a nice ride through the current. I love the light reflecting on the water’s surface. The birds that live along the water. The green moss. The wildflowers blooming. The sound of rushing water. The rocks….oh, the rocks! Quite simply, wading brings me into Oneness and balance. It reminds me I am part of Nature. 

As I was taking my rod apart and removing my waders and boots, I pondered the short time so filled with beauty, including the seven trout that danced with me and were still swimming free in the creek. I was reminded to always go for it. Make the effort to support what I am passionate about and make time for it. Life is meant to be filled with beauty and fun…whatever that means for each of us. So what if dinner is late. It’s just me, the dogs and cats, and they don’t wear watches.

If you’d like to experience holistic fly fishing with me, I guide in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park under a commercial use permit. I specialize in working with women that are new to fly fishing and want to learn with zero pressure to perform and who love Nature. Holistic fly fishing is about connecting with Nature through fly fishing, not about how many fish you catch. It’s all catch and release using barbless hooks or for those not wanting to hook a fish, I can cut the entire hook off and just leave the fly. It’s amazing to just witness a trout rise to a fly. Check out the details HERE.

Celebrating Mayflies

Celebrating Mayflies

I stood along the side of the stream, cold water flowing around my waders and blue sky overhead—blue sky filled with hatching mayflies. Tiny fairy-like-flight of insects rising from the water’s surface into the warm spring air. 

Admittedly, I was distracted from watching my fly float along the surface. Several times it intersected with a hatching mayfly and I was anticipating a trout to make the imitation of the mayfly and the mayfly into a sandwich. Alas, it didn’t happen.

But, last summer I was fishing another creek and through the clear water, I watched a trout chase a hatching mayfly from the depths to the surface. Right after the trout missed the emerging insect, my fly landed at the exact spot and the trout took the fly. Never in my wildest dreams…I’m not sure even my friends believe that wild story. But I swear it’s true and I can show you the deep pool where it happened…but I won’t, because it’s one of my guarded spots that me and only a couple hundred people visit…thankfully not at the same time. I’ve only seen other anglers there once in four years.

On my birthday last spring, I was with a guide friend and we waded upon a green drake hatch. (There’s a blog dedicated to that magical experience you can read HERE). Those huge mayflies had us both laughing and excited, in awe. Yesterday, they were smaller but brought no less joy to this nature-lover.

It seems everyone knows mayflies by their flying persona, but the mayfly lives in that evolution of their lifecycle only a couple days. The majority of their life is spent underwater…as a buggy looking, rather hard-shelled, multiple legged nymph. 

I stood in the water watching and thought: last year, females laid eggs in the water and two weeks later they hatched. They spent an entire year as an underwater bug and maybe I stepped across them last summer when I waded here. Now, they are hatching as I witness. Now they begin a 24 to 48 hour time as air-breathing, flying mayflies and will shed their exoskeleton once more during this time. Then, they’ll mate and the female will lay eggs and they will hatch (unless eaten by a trout) next year, perhaps when I’m wading the stream with my fly rod. And yes, I actually stood there thinking all of this!

The egg-laying was also happening yesterday as I stood transfixed in the creek, lost in the wonder of magical mayflies. 

Mostly, mayflies are underwater buggy creatures; however, their flight is what we celebrate because that’s what we witness, and some (like me) hardly notice the fish when a hatch is underway.

Perhaps our lives are a bit like the lives of mayflies…we spend the majority of our time growing and looking positively buggy in our attempts to develop into good human beings. And on occasion, our hard work pays off and we metaphorically take flight and are able to express our beauty, the beauty to which all of us are destined if we realize our potential.

I learned this from a little mayfly that lit on my waders, over my heart. We had a wonder-full conversation, fueled somewhat by my imagination. But mostly, I just softly whispered words of love and appreciation and thanked the small wonder for bringing me so much joy. 

I created this image for the logo of my business, Wading Women: Holistic Fly Fishing. So…yes, I do adore mayflies. 


It is said that a trout’s diet is up to 70% underwater nymphs like mayflies and other cool insects like stoneflies. Every spring I spend as much time as possible in the water, casting my fly rod…which is really just an excuse to witness one of my favorite nature phenomena. And a favorite of the spring hatches? The yellow sallies, a type of stonefly. They really do look like tiny yellow fairies flying up from the water.

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path

Yesterday, four of us got together to hike in the national park. It wasn’t a usual hike for any of us because we explored an area that wasn’t a marked trail; it was an old roadbed. Before anyone loses their minds about how dangerous this was, let me share our gear configuration and hiking credentials: three of the four of us had Garmin In-Reach Mini’s, all of us had GPS apps on our smartphones and knew how to use them, all of us are very familiar with the area with over half our group being born here and growing up here, we were following a river and could see the main highway through the park consistently, and we are all experienced hikers. 

We followed an old roadbed that one of our group had seen, after a snowfall, from the main park road. Part of it was semi-maintained due to the power line that ran beside it; however, once the power line cut across the woods and over the paved road to a picnic area, the old roadbed was filled with downed trees, dog hobble patches, and small brush. It is still ‘maintained,’ but only by the elk and deer that use it. It was actually quite easy to see the roadbed as it was cut into the mountains, it was just challenging to navigate at times. 

Along the way we explored historical areas where homesites existed prior to the formation of the park. There were broken jars and bottles, tin wash tubs, enameled pots, parts of old vehicles scattered around the sites but there were also old foundations covered in moss and fascinating evidence of prior homesteads.

Perhaps the most interesting and beautiful finds were spring heads that were noted with stacked rocks. One in particular was absolutely lovely. There was evidence of a human-created run of stacked rocks lining the waterway from the spring. 

All through the national park there are clues to locations of old homesteads with particular vegetation that isn’t native including shrubs and flowers. This makes locating the sites easy. It’s important to not disturb or remove anything from the sites as they are historical and therefore protected by the park. But exploring these areas can be done without changing them or harming them and it’s quite fascinating.

The woman leading the hike is a former employee of the park, so she gave us a depth of experience, knowledge, and wisdom that made our exploration safer. I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone do this kind of hike anywhere in the park unless they have significant knowledge of the area, maps, safety equipment, and a lot of hiking experience. Two retired park rangers have told me stories of rescuing people that had no clue where they were or anything about the area but kept moving further away from marked trails, some of which ended well and others, not so much. 

Our adventure reminded me of blue-lining in the park. I do this while fly fishing and it’s quite amazing to follow the creeks, leaving the trail at times, to follow the blue lines on the map rather than marked trails. Again, the key to success is having the knowledge of where the trail is, where the creek leads, and the safety equipment to make it work. And of course, knowing my physical ability, knowing the water level, weather, rain prediction, and how to get help if needed.

This isn’t written with the intention of getting anyone to go off the beaten path to explore historical sites or to follow a creek away from a trail; it is written to encourage people to get out of ruts in life, to explore new things and places, not only in Nature but within themselves. Be willing to try new things, learn new things, find ways to expand the known by touching the unknown. And doing it safely and with concern for their own and others well-being. 

Another unexpected part of our adventure was the snow, sleet, sunshine and general minute-by-minute changing weather. Due to high elevation snow, the main road through the park was closed. We couldn’t shuttle one of our vehicles to the exit point so we had to walk back to our point of origin. Since the park road was closed, we had an incredible adventure of a quiet, vehicle-free five mile walk back down the road. That, in itself, was amazing fun. So, after our off-the-beaten-path adventure, we walked down Highway 441 as snow and sleet bounced off our faces and an empty roadway, free of the usual speeding cars and trucks with burning brakes.

It was an epic day.