Tag: fly fishing women

Water Water Water

Water Water Water

Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday, I walked in the rain for 4 ½ miles and loved it so much I made a comment on social media that it was one of my favorite things. I think the rain listened.

Today, I wasn’t expecting rain while hiking and wading during fly fishing. But I did go prepared with my GoreTex jacket.

As soon as I parked, the rain started. While I geared-up, it kept coming. As I walked the two and a half miles up the trail…more rain. And even though GoreTex is breathable, sweat was rolling down my back. Water was rolling off my jacket. The sky was opening up and it was glorious.

It poured. It sprinkled. But one thing it didn’t do was stop.

And neither did I.

Nearly six miles of wading and hiking and casting was Medicine for me today. I wish I could come up with a word that described how much I love being in the creek, engaging fully with the life of that place, the energies that reside there and interact with me as I breathe with them.

I’m not the only one loving the rain.

Alas, I’ll just have to keep returning and exploring just how I can describe something so beneficial to me…in every way. Hopefully, it’s beneficial to Nature as we deepen our understanding of each other.

Remember

Remember

Words take me to a linear part of my brain and I want to stay in the fullness of the experience— watery curves of water flowing over stone; crashing sound of white water finding itself after falling.

Agitation, due to separation from wading mountain streams in lush forests, is resolved. Other things kept me from these sacred experiences, these holy times with Nature. But it couldn’t be helped.

Today, after nearly a month apart from my Beloveds, I waded again. My soul drank deeply from living waters flowing through an ancient river, an ancient creek. My entire body is re-set as is my energy and mind and emotions. 

I’m back with myself after 62 degree water caressed my legs and feet for three hours. It feels good to be home in my body once again. And to remember….

First Glimpse of Autumn

First Glimpse of Autumn

It’s 64 degrees as I head up the trail. Clouds still hide the sun, but the trail will be in shadow until later anyway. It feels like the first glimpse of autumn. 

I walk over a mile and a half before entering the 60 degree water. By now, I’m warm and my feet smile as the clear water seeps into my boots. I’m in my happy place—water. 

Fly rod in hand, minimal gear…I feel free as the water washes away everything else. I stand at the tail of the large pool and watch. Consciously, I slow my breathing and inhale the beauty of rocks, water, trees. Slowly I exhale a breath of who I am to all present. We stand like this, in perfect communion.

And then, I unhook the fly from the guide and release it to kiss the water. A few practice casts to warm up, then I wade toward the rear center of the stream and begin placing the fly on river right….then river center…then river left. When I cast to the left side, a nice rainbow trout responds and the barbless hook is set. It self-releases just a few feet from me, my favorite way to interact….no handling, no fouled hook…a clean release with only one moment of the trout being out of the water—when it leaps into the air to shake the hook.

I keep working the pool, moving up the right bank, side-center-side, and have small trout slap, nudge, and grab the fly…but I don’t want to hook them so I move up the pool. 

Sometimes I get a strong sense of a where a fish is feeding. That’s the case now so I carefully cast into a very small area of stillness and the area, no wider than two feet across, erupts. A very nice-sized, sparkly, fat trout is on and it takes a minute or two to land it. I keep the trout in the water and reach down to remove the hook from its lip. I feel teeth…not usual. It’s not a rainbow, as I first suspected. It’s not a brook trout…but what is it? It’s completely silver with no markings except for bright red spots. So beautiful, healthy, feisty, and free once again as I watch it swim away strongly and with much attitude. 

I spend the next two hours wading from pool to cascading pool, dancing with rainbow trout. But that’s only part of what I’m doing. I’m breathing in the essence of this place and sharing myself every time I exhale. The lush green moss and trees, clear water, gray rocks call me deeper into relationship. 

A favorite rock shelf calls me and I wade in nearly waist-deep water to sit on it…and simply breathe. Eventually, I unhook the fly again and sit, casting into the upstream pool. A small rainbow dances with me and I wish it well as I set it free. And still I sit and gaze into clear water, no longer casting…just being.

Being totally present is a must for there is swift water, deep holes, and sticks hiding in pools. So I go deeper into the present. I become fully aware of my body…how I place my booted foot, the angle at which I move, how the water tries to carry my foot away before I place it, the strength of my thigh as I step up, the coolness of the water on my skin.

This deep pool had a freshly-fallen tree in it today…bark and small limbs were still caught in an eddy. Glad I wasn’t there when it fell…I think the trout will appreciate the extra hiding places.

Before long the creek will be filled with multicolored leaves blowing from limbs preparing for winter sleep, but today I sense only the first stirrings of autumn and am happy to be in the flow of seasons. 

In my happy place….water!

I later found out that the silver fish with red spots was a brown trout with an unusual coloring for the Smokies. It is a magnificent fish friend…one of the many I met today. And in case you are wondering….I don’t photograph fish as I want them to spend as little time as possible away from their normal day, but today I wish I had taken a couple of seconds to document this unique fish. 

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Gear nerd stuff…glasses are a MUST for eye protection and polarized sunglasses help cut down on glare so you can see fish and see where you are walking when wading. A hat is helpful for overhead sun and also for hook protection. Clothes and colors that blend in are helpful to be less likely to spook fish and to blend in with Nature. Long pants are pretty much vital to avoid poison ivy and briars, although I see people in shorts–but I wonder about them :-). Wading boots give traction and foot protection as well as insulation with neoprene socks for additional insulation. I rarely use a net as once I get a fish near me, I simply reach down and undo the hook without holding them…that’s the ideal. But sometimes, a larger fish needs a net to calm down…but still keeping them submerged so they can continue breathing while I remove the hook. In the summer I carry a small waist pack with tippet, forceps, flys, flotant, extra leader, water thermometer, snippers, and cell phone. A small waterproof pack rides above that with a concealed carry device, id and licenses, car keys, satellite messenger device for emergencies. I use the Gaia app for reference when noting express points on the creeks and rivers and for bushwhacking from creek to trail when I haven’t already noted the point. Finally, I carry a Grayl water purification device. And that’s all the gear nerd stuff for today.

Rainbows Call Me Home

Rainbows Call Me Home

I slept later than intended so was a bit concerned about a 9am start to wading a favorite section of a local river. When I pulled into the parking area, nobody else appeared to be fishing so I decided to just go with the little intuitive nudge that called me there.

It was difficult to settle down. I felt out of my body–not grounded–as I begin wading up the river. Dodging overly-deep holes, limbs caught underwater, slick areas when I just wasn’t all ‘there’ made me a bit anxious. White water itself is cause to be fully present, but given the challenge of these mountain waters, I wanted feel more grounded in the experience.

Fish started taking the dry fly and that’s what finally brought me into the moment. It was as if they were saying, Hey you! You better pay attention!! Normally, when I’m feeling a bit ‘off,’ I don’t catch fish, but today the fish were ready to dance with me and forced me to really tune into the rhythm, the vibe.

Once I arrived with my whole self, I was able to appreciate the beauty…of the colorful fish, the colors of green moss and trees, the sound of rushing water, the shapes of rocks. The strength of my body, the ability to balance and the successful choosing of a way upstream was part of that beautiful experience.

When I first started wading and was having such a difficult time of ‘arriving,’ I thought perhaps I should have stayed home. But the fish called me to pay attention…to them, the water and rocks, the trees, myself. It ended up being one of the best times in the water this summer.

So what if we are a bit slow coming into communion with Nature, with ourselves. If we simply make the effort, sometimes magic happens and rainbows call us home…to ourselves.

Builder of Dreams

Builder of Dreams

Bull elk…wapiti from last autumn at the Cherokee Mothertown

In the gray light, before sunrise yesterday, I drove past the Cherokee Mothertown. On the sacred mound were two bull elks, sleeping…dreaming their wild elk dreams. Even though I didn’t stop and walk there, the image of those magnificent beings stayed with me all day. 

They remained with me as I walked along the nearby creek and as I worked on tasks and had a meeting online. The misty gray dream-like beings held me in their reality all day.

This photo is pretty ugh….but it was nearly dark, across the creek, with an iPhone.

This morning, as I walked along the creek in the dim light, I saw a large critter in the middle of the creek. It appeared to be a furry bulldozer. At first I thought it was an otter, but it was too big. Upon closer examination, a beautiful beaver emerged from the whitewater. 

I’m like a kid when animals show up in my life, but even my excitement didn’t scare the steadfast beaver as it swam and waded and pushed its way upstream. It never wavered from the journey.

Another low-light, iPhone image that makes me cringe (quality)

How amazing to be so focused and sure of yourself to push on, no matter what. 

Given the two mornings of amazing encounters, I decided to look up the spiritual meaning in my Ted Andrews book. My mouth fell open as I read both the beaver and elk passages.

Bull elk image I took last autumn during rut.

The elk remind me that I’m about to hit my stride and that at the beginning of a new project, to expect a period of growth of four to five years but I’ll have the strength for this new project. Then beaver, builder of dreams, reminds me to act on my dreams and make them a reality…it’s time for action.

Image by David Knapp, of Troutzone Anglers of Simone.

There’s no doubt…I needed to hear this. I’ve been playing with a new dream, one I want to build on for the next….yes, you got it… four or five years. I just spent a month off from my job…a forced layoff so the state university I work for doesn’t have to pay me benefits. I like the work and plan on staying there for the next five years. But it’s not a career or a vocation. 


I’m pretty big into doing what you love and living your dreams. I’ve done that for many years. But now, as I’m in the pre-retirement years, I’m enjoying giving back to the Cherokee tribe through the grants I help administer. I have zero complaints about the work…but it’s not the end-all gift I wish to leave the world sort of work.

So, in this forced layoff, I spent time thinking about what I’d like to do when I’m ready to ‘retire.’ Of course I’ll work, but what do I want to do? 

One of my favorite places to cast and wade

I reflected on the past year and three months…I’ve never grown so much and developed such trust in myself. Why? Fly fishing. Exploring. Wading. Going into the back country of the national park and connecting deeply with water, rocks, otters, trout, trees…it has changed my life. I’d love to share that with people…specifically with women who want to grow. 

Another place that has filled me with wonder.

As Lynette Monterio Musten wrote, “Never in my life had I thought I was capable of this; of being alone, of feeling safe, with myself, of being quiet.” This reflects my experience perfectly and I want to offer this to other women who want to learn how to do this.

I connected with a couple of guide schools and found what they are offering isn’t what I’m wanting to do. I don’t want to be a guide for grip-and-grin tourists. I want to work with women who want to develop their enjoyment of life through interacting with Nature. Guide schools I’ve explored are linear in their approach and that’s what most people are wanting, but I am creating a holistic approach to fly fishing.

My profile photo on FaceBook for the past couple of months….elk are a definite power animal for me.

In my dream, I integrate yoga, wading, fishing, casting, education (about insects, trout and the environment) and self-care skills. Rather than mold my dreams to other people’s trainings, I am creating a program of training that will support my dream. There are guides that are willing to help me learn and develop as a fly fisher, with my specific intentions, so I’ll be working with them. I’m already a yoga instructor, have worked with people in Nature as a naturalist, ropes course facilitator, scuba instructor, and trip leader. It’s a matter of developing my fly fishing skills, working more with guides, and continuing to do what I love…fly fish in the back country.

Photo by David Knapp, Troutzone Anglers, of Simone…David is helping Simone design her way forward as a guide

These two wildlife encounters feel really supportive of my dream. The elk remind me to be in sacred space and feel the strength of the Ancestors as they walk with me and strengthen my dreams. The beaver reminds me to believe in my dreams and work on them, build them to make them a reality.

Reach for the sky! Build your dreams!

Nature has always been my best teacher and early mornings, like these past two, remind me why I get up early and go walk the trails before most people are stirring. The magic of dawn and of Elk and Beaver Medicine give me focus and strength to support my dreams by taking the steps necessary to make them a reality. 

Step-by-Step we build our dreams

The guidance I keep receiving, when I journey inwards, is Step-by-Step is how this is accomplished. Gratitude fills me as I thank the Ancestors, the Elk and Beaver for bringing me this teaching. And now, I feel a bit of excitement as I take the beginning steps…of building my dream.