Tag: Wading Women

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.

I Love a Surprise

I Love a Surprise

Rain was expected all day. It’s not that I won’t fly fish in the rain, but heavy rains in mountains creeks can mean seriously quick rises in water levels. I expected to spend the day inside, maybe watching someone else tie flies at a fly tying demonstration.

I woke up and looked at weather radar….no rain. I looked at the hourly forecast…cloudy but no rain until mid-day. A fire was lit to eat breakfast, feed the critters, and pack my gear. Before 9am I was heading out the door. Destination? My favorite creek.

When I turned into the parking area, elk were everywhere…on the road, in the woods, and a juvenile elk was calling for its mama. That sound echoed through the area as I assembled my fly rod and slid into my waders. Elk wandered on the other side of the creek as I walked to the spot calling me.

The water level was absolutely perfect. Down about a foot since the previous weekend, clear, and there were heavy clouds so no shadow to spook already seriously spooky fish.

Wild trout in the Smoky Mountains are no joke in their ability to know you are there. They know flies and large trout commonly swim up to a dry fly, circle it, and I swear they roll their eyes and I hear a ‘tsk-tsk-tsk’ sound as they leisurely swim back to their lair. It’s said that if you can catch wild trout in the Smokies, you can catch them anywhere.

And winter isn’t an easy time to fish here. The water is crystal clear and often you can spook fish from far away, even using your best stalker tactics. My expectations to dance with fish during winter are pretty low.

But yesterday, I had the creek to myself and with no other fly anglers, I must admit I was doing a happy dance of blissful solitude. My communion with the water, trees, rocks, moss, and fish wasn’t interrupted by anything, not even my own monkey mind. It was complete surrender to the connection I share with that little heaven.

I was able to dance with a gorgeous rainbow for a few seconds before blessing her and releasing her back to the creek. And then another, very small brook trout danced with me until it self-released as it approached my boots. 

And then…that massive trout that checked out the dry fly and did the eye roll…or at least I imagine it did an eye roll. That was just as cool as actually catching the others. Just to see them and observe their behavior and interact was so fun!

Nearly four hours of delight in and around the water came as an amazing surprise on a day I was expecting no wading. And then I thought a couple hours…maybe. I would have stayed longer but thinking it would be limited to two hours or less, I only took a small bottle of water and no snacks. So with deep gratitude I started the walk out after two miles of wading and hiking. 

Words are such a limited way to express how wading and interacting so deeply with Nature brings my to balance and peace. Awe and wonder are my constant companions even though I know this creek intimately. The creek is my Beloved friend and teacher and how grateful I am to spend time immersed in the clear waters of life.

The following morning finds the creek rising again due to heavy rain. That perfect wading window closed…for now. But I’ll go back…and soon.

What Lights Up Your Life?

What Lights Up Your Life?

One of my friends commented the other day that our lives are about service. I’ve always thought that about my life; however, I’m certain not everyone feels that way. We each have our own thoughts and beliefs about what this time–we call a lifetime–means. Some might feel there is no meaning, we’re just here to exist in a body and then…poof! Others might feel the need to persuade others to their own belief about what life is about. We’re each entitled to our own belief about it but what gives us joy is an indicator that we’re doing something right.

I’ve recently become a volunteer with Casting Carolinas, a non-profit that provides comprehensive support and fly fishing retreats for women surviving cancer. A couple weeks ago I volunteered as a river helper at their autumn retreat and this past weekend I volunteered at their big fund-raiser, Tie One On Fly Fishing Tournament, in Cherokee. I was a river helper and judge in the tournament. I’m not sure I’ve felt that much joy in a long time. Here’s why.

First, I was paired with a team called The Tangled Tippets. It was 42 degrees with frosty air and a water temp of 55 degrees. That didn’t stop us from having beautiful laughter that echoed up the river. At one point, an elk mom and baby passed by us and in the distance we heard a male bugling, calling to his gals perhaps or warning the other males to stay away…not sure…but the magic was incredible as were the fish caught and released. The woman I was assisting said seeing the elk mom and baby was even better than catching a fish.

Then, in the second round, another woman and I were judges for two 13 year old guys…their team name was The Dogs. Susie and I watched and hoped they would catch fish. Who wouldn’t? But the 2 ½ hours ticked by and no luck. I was time-keeper and gave them the 5 minute warning….Come on!!! Catch a fish!! I was watching the timer and it got down to 28 seconds and one of the young men hooked a big trout! DUDE!!!! He landed it and we measured it…20 inches!!! A pig!! We went crazy! I know hikers walking by thought we had lost our minds. We didn’t care.

Here’s the deal…that joy came from helping others. To encourage people to have fun, to learn new skills…in a beautiful outdoor setting. That’s it. That’s pure joy for me. Call it service, purpose, whatever you want. If what I’m doing brings me joy, then something is going right in my life. That’s my life’s ‘work.’

What brings you joy? What lights up your life?

Dreaming with Elk

Dreaming with Elk

It happened again. I awoke in the wee hours of the morning dreaming of elk bedded down all around my home and then, late this afternoon, I came upon a large gathering of elk as they begin to come together for their annual autumnal rut festival. According to a national park volunteer I spoke with, today was the first day of their gathering. And they told me in my dream.

A few years ago, not long after I moved back to the Smokies, I awoke and in a half-waking/half-sleeping state, I felt hot breath on my face. None of my four-legged companions was the source of the hot breath. I felt an elk standing over me, breathing in my face. Later that morning, I came upon a massive bull elk standing on the side of the road, as if he was waiting for me.

It has happened more than these two examples, but these were the most intense. 

I’m not sure how consciousness works, but I do believe we have helpers that show up in all manner of forms. The elk and I definitely are in sync. And I am deeply grateful.

Today I saw a cow and her calf in the river and they reminded me of Wading Women, my holistic fly fishing guide service name. They became the newest members of the team…wading women, indeed! 

No matter what species were are labeled, we all go to water for nurturing, healing, for life-giving fluids. Several elk were cooling off in the chilly, mountain water as it was in the low 90’s here in the Smokies. I’m in total agreement with them…let’s wade!

I’m grateful for the visitations, for the shared dreamtime experiences with elk. For their strength, power, and stamina—majestic rulers of the forest. Thank you!

Please note: none of these images were taken in close proximity to the elk. They were either taken with a telephoto lens, from a safe distance behind a big tree, or actually from within my car and the elk were alongside the road. The national park asks visitors to stay over 50 yards away (150 feet). Anything that disturbs elk or causes them to move, is against park rules and can result in fines and arrest. I have accidentally come upon them on a trail before and it’s a very strange feeling to realize you are completely surrounded by elk without even seeing them when you were hiking. This time of year, as we approach the ‘rut festival,’ we must be extra cautious as the bulls can be very dangerous when they are fighting for their gals. Please don’t harass any wildlife in the park. Let them remain undisturbed. Please.