By Flinn Pomeroy
It was a beautiful evening in late September. The warmth from the summer-like day was now cut with a crisp hint of autumn. The group of female anglers assembled at the Aspen Outfitting Company fly shop in Woody Creek, Colorado was the last installment of our weekly ladies fly fishing class. Over the previous 12 weeks we had introduced more than 65 local women to fly fishing. For the eight students gathered, this excursion would close out an engaging first season.
Amidst friendly conversation, the women confidently took hold of their fly rods and began to skillfully rig them up. Within minutes the group was ready to head to the river. It was obvious that we were long past our early days of learning knot tying, awkwardly putting on waders, and casting practice in the park. Tonight we would spend the entire evening fly fishing.
The end of summer had come and gone and the sun was setting much earlier than we were used to. It would be a race to see if each woman could use the skills she’d learned to catch a trout (or two, or more) on the fly before the fleeting light closed the door to opportunity.
As we spread out along the river, I realized that it was going to be a particularly special evening for me. Used to being the teacher, I was now able to walk the river bank as a friend, a fellow angler standing knee deep in the river with this group of amazing women. Sneaking a look here and there, I noticed that everyone was fully focused, at peace, and truly enjoying herself. I watched as rods were raised and fly line was cast. I witnessed women, most of whom had never picked up a fly rod when I met them, skillfully and confidently fly fishing. Weeks of patience and fortitude had lead us all here as a unified group. No longer beginners, it was apparent that these women were out tonight to catch fish!
The fishing was good, and one by one, each woman began to hook trout. Some would let out cries of excitement that brought me running, grinning from ear to ear with my net in hand. Others wouldn’t make much noise at all – my only notification being the urgent shape of a bent rod tip – and I’d come running nonetheless. It was smiles across the board. Laughs and shouts of encouragement echoed down the river.
Everyone fished persistently, until before we knew it, we were standing in a black river beneath a pale grey sky. The only things visible were our smiles and the ends of our noses (barely). As I listened to my friends’ stories, it became apparent that many fish made it to the net that evening, and that after a summer of learning we were all walking away with a deep sense of companionship.
Arnold Gingrich once said, “A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.” I couldn’t agree more – there’s something that happens when you go fly fishing with friends – a type of bond that is difficult to explain. It is a comradery that comes from sharing the yearning to be close to the energy of nature. As an angler, you feel an almost euphoric sensation when you’re able to successfully interject yourself into the life of a trout. The actual connection happens fast, and is usually brief, but it is a connection that continues to bring us back time and time again – as anglers, as women, and as friends.