Tag: fly fishing women

Plan D

Plan D

I’d been looking forward to fishing a very special place for months. My calendar dinged a reminder: My day! Abrams Creek. 

A friend from Black Mountain was coming over and we were going to seek the green drake hatch that had captured me, raptured me, last year on my birthday with my guide friend David from TroutZone Anglers. (Read that story here).

We left the house by 7am and drove through the national park and all the way around to Cades Cove with hardly any traffic snarls…that in itself was a little miracle during spring break season. We saw wild tom turkeys doing their impressive dances as female turkeys pecked for bugs and perhaps rolled their eyes as they turned their backs to the toms in search of breakfast. I was impressed with the tom’s dances; but, I’m not a female turkey. We also saw many white tailed deer as we slowly made our way to the turn to Abrams Falls. 

Finally, we were close and I pointed out the road coming up on our right. I also saw orange barricade barrels there but thought there must be a hole in the road. But no. As we drove up there was a sign hanging that simply said: Abrams Falls Trail Closed. Plan A: failed.

Kip later told me I said, “NO! No, no, no, no!!” I don’t even remember saying that as I was in complete shock. (Sigh). Months of planning and looking forward to this epic day and it wasn’t to be on that particular creek.

Both being positive humans we quickly re-grouped. I suggested we park at the visitor center and inquire about fishing the creek from there down to the trailhead. At first the three ladies behind the counter paused as their eyes bugged out and then in unison said, “NO! You cannot access the trail. It is closed.” Calmly we explained we were NOT trying to access the closed trail, but rather fish down to it. Then, they calmed down enough so we could smile and wish each other well before doing a bit of a scouting mission down the trail in the 32 degree air temperature.

Yes. It was 32. It had been 28. So you see, there was a bit of a warmup happening. A very small warm-up.

As we walked beside the small creek, we saw huge masses of trees blown down from a recent wind storm. Cades Cove had just re-opened a week ago. The park roads were closed for days as they worked to clear them. So we definitely understood why Abrams Falls Trail was closed. I’m guessing it won’t be open for a long while.

Plan B: failed due to skinny water and a general lack of enthusiasm from two fly anglers. Onward to Plan C.

We drove down a gravel road where I had previously seen people fishing two years ago. Once again, we felt the water was too small for what we had in mind. Plan C: failed. But, the temperature jumped from 37 to 50 degrees in a very short time. At least it was warm enough to feel more comfortable wading. Just where to go? 

The national park isn’t short on water with 2900 miles of streams, so we finished driving the beautiful Loop Road and made our way back to an area I’ve been wanting to fish, but will not name. Even though there are some rather steep gorges, we managed to finally, at 11am, put on our waders and boots, assemble our fly rods, tie on some feathers and cast. 

Water was swift and rocks were very slippery but we saw several trout rise and miss or rise and refuse. Sometimes it’s challenging to figure out what exactly is happening when trout are rising. I caught and released a nice rainbow and then another one before we moved on. We fished from the vehicle as too many areas were not wadeable. I caught another small brown trout in another pool and a rainbow a bit further upstream. At least we were seeing fish rise and there was successful dancing with trout.

The sun was bright, the water was clear. This makes fishing these wild trout very challenging. I stayed low as I could, hid behind boulders, stood in the shadows of large tree trunks in order to be a stealthy trout hunter. Sometimes it worked, but they were a weird bunch of trout kids today.

With the sun so high and bright, we headed back to pavement and another area I adore fishing that would offer a little more shade.  Again, we had a lot of fish action and I managed to catch a very nice rainbow and lost another one that was hooked but spit the barbless hook…but wait…that might have been back on the gravel road. It all blurred together after a while. We still had some silly trout antics that had me laughing. 

Just for kicks, I tied on a fly with odd colors I combined to see what would happen. I cast several times, making my way across the water. I could ‘feel’ a fish in a really nice calm area and sure enough…a larger trout rocketed out of the water but slapped the fly with its tail. It dove down, leaped back out of the water and slapped it again. Note to self: it is offensive to trout to use red thread and a bright blue foam body. Experiment failure…but that’s the fun of tying flies. You never know when you’ll invent the next fly that changes the world of the fish and insect nerds that we are. With this particular one, I was properly scolded by a large trout and I muttered an apology.

We were riding back through the park after getting off the overly-warm waders. We chatted about our crazy day. The trail being closed, the attempts at finding good water. The weird behavior of the fish at both locations (far from each other). And how much incredible fun we had. 

Our plan was such a great one. But it crumbled as we found the road closed. We could have allowed that ruin our day but WHY!?!?! It was such a magnificent day with turkeys dancing, deer frolicking, mayflies hatching…sun, wildflowers, trout and their silly trout antics. All the stuff magnificent days are made of. 

The day was a gift. Plan D was a gift. Crazy trout antics…a gift. A friend open to letting the day unfold however it would…a gift. 

Had either of us been attached to our plan, the day would have been quite different. Our flexibility, good humor, patience, and determination to let the trout lead us, allowed us to receive the gift of the day.  

I always think that how I spend my birthday influences how the next year will unfold. So I expect some doors will close, others will open and I will be unattached to closings and openings . Maybe one…or two…or three doors need to close so that the right door has space to open. I will cultivate flexibility, patience, and a keener ability to simply go with the flow so the magic can happen. I will allow Life to go off script as I open to the unwritten, unknown way forward.



Last week, I explored my angst about not getting enough time in Nature; during five days off, I made an effort to change that. Every day, I went into the woods and came out happier, more at peace, and more aligned with myself.

Over the past two decades, when I’ve asked what I’m supposed to do with my life, I’ve heard to deepen my connection with Nature. It all comes down to that bit of inner guidance. Not, ‘Save the world,’ or ‘Do something huge.’ It’s been clear and simple…’Create a deeper, personal relationship with Nature.’

It’s taken a while to understand that I didn’t have to become an expert guide or teacher to lead others to their own connection with Nature, to their own inner healing journey. For many years, I thought that was what I was supposed to do. After some recent soul-searching, I’ve come to understand that living with a deeper awareness of the inner connection, the Oneness, can create positive change around me, just from being rooted, anchored in a reverent and reciprocal relationship with Nature. 

I’m most joyful when I’m with Nature, listening to flowers, water, trees, rocks…I mean being still and listening with my heart. Perhaps my contribution to the world is simply going out and practicing this. If we change ourselves, we create ripples of energy that move out into the world. In essence, by being exactly who we are, we create positive change in the world. Not by forcing or even inviting. Just by being who we are in our most genuine expression of soul.

The act of intentionally connecting with Nature changes me and it changes Nature. I’ve felt the shift many times as I consciously connect with various aspects of Nature. And it’s an outcome that isn’t coerced or pushed; it is a natural, organic way of being. 

I love to reflect on experiences I have outdoors and express them through creative processes. That’s all very natural for me, like breathing. Writing, photography, composing music…all arise from releasing myself to the creative flow that comes by being in sync with the the energy of Nature…Oneness…Source.

Many times people have viewed my photographs, read my essays and books, and commented that they can never do what I do but enjoy experiencing it through my sharing. I’m finally understanding my ‘work’  is to simply go out into Nature with an open heart, with a conscious desire to listen, connect, learn. 

Last Thursday, my teacher was a trout lily in full bloom. I sat on the narrow trail beside the lily and listened. In the stillness, I felt intimacy with the flower, mountains, birds, the creek far below. I felt my soul filling my body. I felt harmony within myself and everything around me. But, there wasn’t me and everything else….it was simply everything expressing the energy of Life in different forms. 

Friday, I hiked over 12 miles on a trail filled with beautiful wildflowers with friends and fly fished in the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen. Saturday I visited a unique geological area with a friend and saw bluebells and shooting stars. Sunday I waded a section of local water and danced with beautiful rainbow and brown trout. Monday, yesterday, I waded with pouty trout that kept missing the fly. All of it opened me to Nature, to myself, to all Life.

From now on, instead of trying to figure out how to help people connect with Nature, I’m going to listen to decades of guidance…Deepen your connection with Nature…and take it to heart. I’ll connect deeper with Nature and allow It to teach me, heal me, fill me with joy. I’ll allow the creative process to move within that relationship and witness the unfolding. I trust this to be my Path of true service to the world.

A Surprise on the Creek

A Surprise on the Creek

A few feet from me, the trout rose to the surface and sighted the fly as it slowly drifted down the run. It was like an athlete carefully watching as a ball was hurled toward it and then…BAM! It caught the fly with a quick slurp. 

I’m always learning from the trout magi. Something new is revealed each time I wade and wander in the creeks and rivers of the Smoky Mountains. But besides having really good interactions with trout today, I recovered something I lost a week ago, when the water was running higher and I couldn’t reach it. And I couldn’t have been happier.

Last week, I was casting to a beautiful, deep hole, over a seam of really fast water. The elk hair caddis—with an orange hot spot for sighting—was popular with the trout that day. And then, a cast drifted a little too close to a submerged log and got stuck. I had no choice but to break off and leave the fly. It was too dangerous to wade across and rescue it. 

Today, the fly was waiting for me and the water was down a lot. I cast to the pool first but was so excited to see my fly, I stowed the fly line and waded across to retrieve the fly.

The hair and feather creation was really soggy but as soon as I waded back across the creek, I changed tippet and tied this lucky fly on. I squeezed it mostly-dry and added some gel flotant and off we went, casting and dancing with trout. 

There’s something so fun about finding something I thought I had lost. Even though it was a little fly and I hadn’t thought about it since losing it last week, it gave me great pleasure to rescue it and use it to interact with trout again.

As I waded and cast, I pondered the metaphor of re-discovering something in life that we thought was gone. Maybe an idea or dream, a skill, a friend, a job. Sometimes it’s about physically ‘finding’ a lost object, but other times it might involve re-claiming a talent or simply remembering to pause and let our heart feel love, gratitude.

The idea of letting go has been in my mind and heart lately. Letting go of how I expect or want plans to work out and being present enough to navigate daily from an informed present moment instead of trying to guess what the future holds and make decisions from that weird place. 

I was bummed about losing the fly last week, but didn’t waste energy fretting or worrying about it. I simply let it go. And then, I was thrilled it was there waiting on my return today. It’s a little ‘thing’ but holds space for much bigger ideas about letting go, waiting on the right timing, waiting on better conditions before proceeding. 

What have you rediscovered lately that has been a good surprise? How has it affected you?

Letting Our Light Shine

Letting Our Light Shine

Earlier today, I was listening to Amy Ray as she was interviewed by Maggie Rose on her Salute the Song Bird podcast. Amy is known for her activism in environmental and social justice causes but perhaps more known as a singer/songwriter with her own band…oh, yes…and she’s one of the Indigo Girls. Aside from all of that, she said something in the interview that really caused me to pause and reflect.

Amy said she was exploring her own internalized misogyny. It was like a bell went off in my mind as I pondered the idea that women internalize this pervasive, ingrained, and institutionalized prejudice against themselves. Hatred, dislike, mistrust manifested in various forms of abuse, social shunning, ostracism. Oh…that?!!!

As I explored this in my own life, I realized that I’ve always had that negative seed within. It’s what culture taught us. What religion taught us…at least the religion I was exposed to as a child and teen. What schools taught all girls on the tennis team or any girls’ sports team where we’d lose our transportation to a match or game if the football coaches decided they needed the transport we were going to use. That really happened. A lot. Maybe it’s changed now…for the sake of our daughters and granddaughters, I certainly hope so. 

How have I distrusted myself and my strength? How have I viewed myself physically, emotionally? How deep is this darkness planted within me?

In a very sad coincidence, Sinead O’Connor passed yesterday. Her life was far more than a songwriter and powerful vocalist. She stood up against child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church and was labeled…well, what any powerful woman that stands against such an institution is labeled as…historically and even today. I watched an interview done in the 1990s from her SNL appearance where she tore up a photograph of the pope on live TV to protest the cover-up of the child sexual abuse by clergy. She said nobody was paying attention and that the Catholic church in Ireland purchased insurance to protect them from lawsuits 10 years before it became known worldwide of the rape, abuse and horrors children faced from those who were supposedly trustworthy. She refused to be quiet. She claimed her voice for children. She became a warrior…and still is labeled as a troubled soul as people remember her. We should all be so troubled. 

So, this idea that women who stand up and speak out are somehow crazy or to be feared…why, yes! Fear us, because we are weary of misogyny, that we have learned so expertly to turn against ourselves. Until we recognize our own self-hatred, distrust of our personal power and brilliance, and deal with this warped view of what it means to be a woman, we’ll continue to perpetuate those ideas in our lives and in the energy we put out into the world. It’s not something to judge ourselves over, as we are literally unwinding ourselves from the trauma and teachings that keep us small and kept our female ancestors from standing in their brilliant power. But it is something to work on healing by daring to speak our truth and digging deep to learn how light yearns to break free and shine through our beautiful hearts.

One of the reasons I wanted to provide opportunities for women to learn to fly fish is a direct answer to the misogyny which many of us carry within ourselves. We’ve been taught that there’s something inherently flawed within us…after all, it’s our fault that humans were cast forth from paradise….how can we ever get over that one? And that’s just one example, although huge, of how we are taught to judge ourselves so harshly and distrust ourselves. I wanted to provide women a safe place to learn and explore their strengths, fears, and dreams. That’s why I created Wading Women.

As I was walking along the creek today, I had a strong intention arise—I am going to be my shiny self, no matter what. I refuse to shield my light from anyone. And, I want to help other women grow into their own brilliance. For those drawn to wade and cast a line in these Smoky Mountain streams, let’s go play! Let’s be strong together! Let’s heal together!


Join Simone on a holistic fly fishing excursion in the Smoky Mountains It’s about empowerment, fly fishing and nature. Its based on a balance of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the experience and is founded in awareness of the environment and interconnectedness of all life. Visit the Wading Women page to learn more.