Tag: fly fishing women



The gate is a threshold that offers a portal to a magical world, a green tunnel overhead and clear, flowing water underfoot. A place beckons where the outside world is left behind and the seeker can receive precious gifts of the present moment.

Fly fishing small mountain streams offers so much more than interacting with trout. And while dancing with trout is amazing, it’s the relationship cultivated with then entire ecosystem that brings us to gain understanding of Oneness, connection, balance.

When wading and casting, one doesn’t have to concentrate on doing any specific mindfulness practice or yoga asana to find balance. It naturally occurs from being completely present. This comes from immersing not only the feet into cool water, but the entire self into the experience of staying upright on slick rocks and keeping the fly out of rhododendrons overhanging the creek. And submerging into the absolute beauty of wading through the green tunnel.

When only focused on numbers of trout caught, the entire experience of passing through the threshold into the magical world can easily be missed. Anyone can splash through water and drive themself relentlessly to pursue fish. But only those souls who understand the true gift offered by the river and rocks and trees, will come to know the Medicine offered by fly fishing.

Photo by Anna O.


I call it holistic fly fishing and offer guided experiences through my business, Wading Women. Holistic fly fishing is based in balance of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the experience. It is an approach founded in awareness of the environment and interconnectedness of all life. Our excursions are based on creating a nurturing, safe place to learn and connect. It’s all about deepening our relationship with Nature and all life by wading and casting…Wading Women. For more info visit the Wading Women website.

Photo by Anna O.
When Rocks Sing

When Rocks Sing

The large bolder in the middle of the clear, rushing water was the perfect place to sit as I tied on new tippet and a new fly. As I focused on tying the knots, attention given completely to the task, I felt vibrations coming from the rock through my body. Must be the rock transmitting the water’s movement, I thought.

On I waded until I found a much bigger rock to sit on for my snack of dark chocolate and almonds. As I chewed the nuts and sweet treat, I felt the same thing. I’d never felt vibrations from a rock before…not like that. And yes, the water was moving but, still. 

So I sat and felt the rock trembling and wondered if it was my body shaking…but no, it was definitely coming from outside of me. 

What must it take for something as solid and heavy as a rock to reverberate with the energy of water? I’ve been at large waterfalls and felt the earth shake from large volumes of water. I’ve stood on cliffs over 700 tall on the west coast of Ireland and felt the ground shake far back from the edge as waves crashed into shore. So yes, it’s possible for earth to transmit vibrations of moving water. I had just never felt it on the rocks in the creek.

It’s rather amazing, really. Something as hard and heavy and big as a large bolder can convey the language of water through vibrations. And, I’m guessing I could have put my ear to the rock and heard the music of the interplay between rock and water through the rock’s interpretation of those vacillations of sound waves…of energy.

In my meditation before sleep tonight, I closed my eyes and listened to my body. It felt energized and alive, in perfect balance. That usually happens after four or five hours of wading and casting, but tonight I noticed something different. It was as if my body still held the vibration of the rock…the music of the rock…and continued to emit joy from that profound song. 

While I truly love dancing with trout and the relationship I have with them as they swim to flies I tied and refuse or try them or swat them or ignore them, it’s experiences like I had today–when rocks sing to me and I am still enough to feel the music–that nurture my life, my self. 

It’s in My DNA

It’s in My DNA

Been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He died when I was in college after a long battle with an undiagnosed ‘something’ that took his life in a very slow, painful way. A recent Orvis podcast on neonic pesticides brought it up in a deeper way.

My dad loved to fish and hunt. He was a strong, vital man…a farmer. My mom remembers him coming home drenched in pesticides from either filling the sprayer on the tractor or from flagging for the crop-duster airplane. The doctor’s never gave him a real diagnosis, but I did some searching on micro-fiche (rememberer that???) while at Auburn. I was in a Public Relations class and was doing a paper on environmental disasters and how the media covered them. I was actually working on a Three Mile Island paper, but while at the library searched for chemical disasters.

What I found was a chemical plant where workers were exposed to a chemical spill in the plant and they all got very sick, very quick. Their symptoms were the exact same as my dad, but they happened much quicker because of the massive exposure.

I’ve always linked my father’s illness and death to chemical exposure. But that’s not what’s in my DNA…at least I hope it isn’t. He’s been gone 41 years now, but his love of fishing is what I find deep within myself.

As a kid, we fished from the time we were toddlers. My first fish was a flounder on a cane pole when I was probably three or four years old. Then there was a deep sea fishing trip with my dad, when I was 12, when I hooked a king mackerel and it was big! I didn’t think I could land it, but my dad stood beside me and encouraged me and refused to let me give up. It was a lesson that stuck with me. I’ve never given up on life, even though at times it’s been tempting to forget the dreams and just become a robot like so many humans.

The podcast…it was about neonic pesticides and how they are so deadly to insects….good insects…that we need. Like bees and mayflies and caddis flies….basically without insects we are completely done for. We can just bend over and kiss ourselves goodbye. And of course, many fish species eat insects…so you know where this is going. This is a group of pesticides outlawed in Europe and other countries, including Canada. And I just heard, New York state outlawed them (yippie). The rest of our country needs to wake the heck up! These are more dangerous than DDT…remember that one?

I write this to honor my dad…how he passed along his love of fishing to me. As I wade the creeks and rivers here in the Smokies I think of him. He’d be in his 80’s now. Sometimes I think he’s wading alongside me, probably smiling as much as me when I land a fish.

As I begin to offer holistic fly fishing to folks, it’s my hope that it helps them heal as much as it does me. And that I can pass along good stewardship of our planet to all who wade with me or read these words. It’s not just about catching fish, but caring for fish and all life on this magnificent planet.

By the way…I’ve eaten organically as much as possible since my dad’s death. I figure if I support organic farmers, that’s one less conventional farmer spraying with these chemicals or using seeds treated with them, that’s getting my money. Forty years ago you had to be in an organic food buying co-op to secure organic food. Now, you can walk into almost any grocery store and buy organic. So, I do that and I write my representatives in Congress and let them know this is unacceptable. And I remember my dad and the legacy he left me: don’t give up, stand up for what’s right, protect the Earth. Thank you dad!

My brother and me enjoying dirty feet and freshly caught fish.
Relating with Nature: Survey Results

Relating with Nature: Survey Results

As many of you know, I’m starting a holistic fly fishing program to help empower individuals, called Wading Women…men are welcome, too, in case you are wondering.

In order to better understand what people want in outdoor experiences, I created a survey and shared it via email and social media.  It wasn’t a researched-based survey because it wasn’t a ‘tested’ instrument. I was simply taking a pulse on what people want and how they relate to Nature, as I plan programs for Wading Women.

Things that stood out to me: 75% of the 72 participants rate themselves at a 7 or above in a wildness scale of 1 to 10; ninety-two percent reported they are deeply connected with Nature; and 88% are satisfied with their relationship with Nature. Over half of those surveyed prefer water over land. Participants are connected elementally with water more that the elements of earth, air and fire with over 50% choosing the element of water and 33% finding the element of earth their favorite. There was a wide range of people doing their favorite activity—37% said they don’t get to do it enough and 33% said they did it 5 times a week or more. Almost a third reported the reason for not doing what they love outdoors is having nobody to go with them and 60% said lack of time was their reason. Perhaps most surprising to me was 67% reported negative emotional reasons for not connecting deeper with Nature (fear, feeling inadequate, self-judgement, feeling disempowered or incapable). Forty-three percent reported outdoor meditation and yoga appealing as ways to deepen their connection with Nature. And finally, nearly half reported their connection with Nature is spiritual (as opposed to mental, physical or emotional). Guided experiences outdoors were what 57% surveyed found appealing as ways to deepen their connection with Nature. 

I was delighted and grateful that people took the time to complete the survey and will be using their input as I move toward a launch date for Wading Women. Of course, if they know me or follow me on social media, they would not be a random sampling of individuals as they would probably have a bias for Nature; but the survey was very helpful in giving me good ideas of where to focus my efforts and what people want.

In my personal journey, Nature is where I heal and connect. It was already my intention to have mindfulness as a key component of experiences with Wading Women. The survey reminds me that I’ll be providing something people actually want, not just what makes it awesome for me.

(David Knapp, one of my fly fishing mentors)

It’s possible to use fly fishing as a way to grow, heal, and connect. The survey showed that people feel deeply connected with Nature and find a spiritual connection to it, rooted in water. What better way to expand that than fly fishing and wading. 

By adding mindfulness, yoga, and having the practices of catch and release and keeping fish wet, it makes sense to call it holistic fly fishing. While catching fish can be part of it, it will never be my goal to set catch records or pursue fish relentlessly. It’s all about balance of body, mind, spirit and emotions, not photographs of stressed fish. It’s about cultivating relationship with Nature…that includes fish, water, trees, rocks, self and each other.

I am taking the entire month of July to celebrate and launch this new adventure and hope you’ll join me as we explore our connection with Nature and ‘dance’ with fish and their amazing ecosystem. 

To learn more, please visit Wading Women online. Just about everything you need to know about your day in the water is there. If you have questions or wish to schedule, please contact me by email or call 828-333-3990.

A little about me…I’m a Nature writer and photographer, fly angler and newly hatched guide with decades of leading various outdoor adventures. I have been a scuba instructor and trip leader, ropes course facilitator, zip line guide, state park naturalist, environmental educator and counselor. My undergraduate degree is from Auburn University with a BS in Outdoor Recreation and a minor in Resource Management. My graduate degree is in Counseling from Auburn University at Montgomery. I can’t wait to share the joy of holistic fly fishing with those wanting to wade and explore Beauty.

Bats, Fly Fishing & Initiation

Bats, Fly Fishing & Initiation

Three weeks ago…

I walked to the trail on the paved road. After a short hike on the trail, I cut through a section of woods to reach the creek. I was headed for a particular bend in the creek that was deep and very fishy. Water levels were low so the bottom was slick; however, that particular creek bottom is always slick as snot, so I carefully crossed and walked along the bank to the spot. 

Storms and floods had changed it significantly from the last time I was there, so casting was challenging through several downed trees. But within a few minutes, I had a very nice rainbow dancing with me. Usually I’m wading; however, because there was a steep drop-off in the water, I was standing on the rocky shore. 

I was stripping line and walking to a better place to bend down and release the fish without bringing it out of the water. Easy, with nothing out of the ordinary except the strange, black blob flattened right where I had been kneeling. 

Upon closer examination, the blob became a bat. At first, I thought it was dead; but with even more careful observation and a gentle nudge with my wading staff, the bat hissed and I was  the one disturbed. I had been kneeling there. Like…right there.

Knowing that bats are the most common carrier of rabies, with 3% being infected, and seeing that it was close to mid-day and the bat was not sleeping, I knew better than to touch the bat. But it was at the edge of the creek so perhaps it fell out of the overhanging tree or missed a swoop to get water during the night. Bats cannot take off from the ground. Maybe it was thirsty. So I got a thick stick and wet it and dripped water on the bat’s face. It drank so I then allowed it to crawl on the stick and airlifted it to the tree. It crawled off the make-shift airplane and huddled on the tree.

I thought about the weird encounter, how strange it was, for the hours I spent wading upstream. Later than afternoon, when I removed my pants (no, I wasn’t wearing waders…I was wet wading) I saw a red mark on my knee. Ugh.

I fretted throughout the weekend, wondering what to do. Did it bite me? Did I even kneel on it? Monday my doctor referred me to the health department who referred me to animal control. The lady at animal control was blunt, “You do not have a choice. You must get the preventative treatment.” I won’t go into the actual experience of the series of shots but I certainly am glad they are over and I’m now protected from further encounters with potentially rabid creatures.

But seriously….what in the world?

Having studied shamanism for many years, I realize that encounters such as this are powerful and the animals are significant teachers. The bat is symbolic for letting go of the old and bringing in the new, of transition and initiation and a new beginning. The bat is a symbol of promise in the chaotic energy of change. Ted Andrews writes in Animal Speak, “The bat reflects the piercing of new barriers and the opening to higher wisdom. It symbolizes a new truth being awakened.” He writes further to say that it implies strength and stamina to handle issues that might arise as you open to new consciousness. “Its message contains the promise of new horizons and unexpected views about to manifest…the bat is powerful medicine. It can be trying, but it always indicates initiation—a new beginning that brings promise and power after the changes.”

In the three weeks since that encounter, the way has opened for Wading Women, a holistic fly fishing program, to be birthed…many months ahead of what I intended. In fact, this week was so chaotic, in a good way, to birthing this program that my head has literally been spinning. Everything came together seemingly suddenly, even though I’ve been steadily working on it for over a year. 

I’ll write more on Wading Women soon to share the mission, the intention, and the specifics. But for now, I’m just sitting on my front porch, watching the mountains across the valley, thankful for little…and big….miracles that are happening to launch a program of empowerment for women. And thankful for encounters with many beings, both animal and human, that change the trajectory of my life.


To learn more about Wading Women, visit WadingWomen.com