Fishing Like a Girl

Written by Peggy McNeal, TWWI's Bookkeeper

At the age of 42 or so, I found fishing. Or maybe I should say, fishing found me. My husband and I were spending our anniversary in Steamboat Springs and after sipping our morning coffee on a gloriously warm October day, we decided to drive up to Steamboat Lake. Maybe to do a little hiking, but mostly just to see the fall colors and leave town behind in the rearview mirror for a few hours. Little did I know that what I found that day would have such an impact on my life.

When we got to the lake we began watching two small girls catch fish after fish from the shore. They were having the time of their life as they proudly showed off their fish to us. My previous experiences with fishing were few and far between, and having never in my life caught a fish I really couldn't relate to this hobby. My husband suggested that maybe we should try to fish since the girls were having such good luck. Something inside of me said, let's give it a try! I figured if 10 year olds can do it, I could do it too! Of course we had no fishing gear with us, so we arrived back in Steamboat that evening and made plans the next morning to hit the store for fishing poles, bait, food and drink, all the essentials for a fishing trip the next day.

The next morning we got up early, made the drive to Steamboat Lake, set out our lawn chairs, and threw our lines in the water. I somehow imagined that I would be sitting in my lawn chair, reading a book, and occasionally looking at my line, possibly even taking a nap. How wrong I was about just sitting there! I can truly say that this was one of those unplanned perfect days that come along only once in awhile in your life and you never look back. The sun was shining and we were just about the only people at the lake. We were on our feet the entire day because the fish were as hungry as can be. We caught fish after fish, we laughed, we competed for first, biggest, and most, and I won part, if not all, of those competitions on my first day of fishing. Beginners luck, my husband said. The fish were kind to me that day. For that, I thank them.

The following year we bought annual fishing licenses. This meant that we really were planning to fish more than once. We were committing to this. I was officially a fisherwoman! My husband was thrilled that he now had a new fishing buddy.

A few years have past and we now always plan our vacations to include at least a day of fishing somewhere on our trip. We have our favorite fishing spots and know certain lakes like the back of our hands, going there year after year. The first time in the spring after a long cold icy winter break, the lake awaits our return and it feels like we are seeing an old friend after a long absence. There is something very comfortable and calming about going back to our favorite spots each year.

What I discovered about fishing is this. Fishing for me is not just about the fish, although I do love seeing the different colors and shapes and sizes of creatures that I can meet (and always release). For me, fishing is about the memories, being in nature, and the camaraderie with my fishing companions.

Every year we build new memories. We have had moments of fish flying through the air due to an overzealous pull, entire fishing poles being flung into the water, and once a year one of us usually falls into the water. Through it all, we laugh and joke and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery around us. If we catch nothing, we have still had a memorable day with a view that can't be beat.

Fishing is about sitting with your best friend all day by the lake, sipping a cold drink and telling stories while occasionally checking out your line for nibbles. Sometimes we fish in silence and sometimes we talk the whole time. It is about taking your son or daughter with you and seeing their face when they catch their first fish. In my son's case, it was a small little trout he christened "Little Supreme" and which he barely could bring himself to touch. He claims that I was so excited for him to reel it in, that I practically tore the pole from his hand to make sure he didn't lose it. He is pretty much telling the truth about that.

Fishing is also about the little things that you see when you stop and take the time to look. In a world where many of us feel our lives are out of control, the simple act of fishing is a bit of calm in a crazy world. When you are sitting by the water, you suddenly notice all of the little things. The brilliant blue of the dragonfly zooming along the water's edge, the size and shape of the rocks on the shore, the changing level of the water and the small ripples of waves hitting the grass in front of your feet.

One time when I was fly fishing by myself a deer came up right beside me and quietly drank from the stream I was standing in.

This is better for the mind and soul than anything you can buy in a store.

Yes, I am now a fisherwoman and proud of it. I even have a special fishing hat that in bold pink writing proclaims "As a matter of fact, I do fish like a girl."