John McCoy: Fly fishing event will cater to women, youth

(from Charleston Gazette, March 21, 2015)

Kim Rowley is on a mission.

She wants to get more women and young people involved in fly fishing for trout. To help make that happen, Rowley, the women’s initiative chair for the West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited, is putting together an event geared toward — you guessed it — women and kids.

The event, billed as a “Women’s Getaway,” is scheduled for April 25-26 at Pipestem Resort State Park. Women and youths who attend the event will get two days’ worth of fly fishing on the Bluestone River, one night’s stay at the resort’s Mountain Creek Lodge, a guide to provide instruction and advice, four full meals, and beverages and snacks during the fishing.

“The reason we’re having this weekend is so women will have a place where they can learn about fly fishing,” Rowley says. “A lot of women are interested in it, but they don’t know how to do it, where to do it, or how to get started at it. This getaway is aimed at getting them started.”

Most “intro to fly fishing” events are male-oriented — an arrangement Rowley says can be intimidating to women.

“We want to break that pattern,” she explains. “This one is 100 percent about women and young people learning to fly fish for trout from experienced guides.”

Rowley says the outing would provide a perfect opportunity for single mothers to learn fly fishing with their kids. “We do ask that the kids be at least 12 years of age, though,” she adds. “We realize that younger kids are perfectly capable of learning how to fly fish, but the Bluestone is a pretty good-sized stream and we want to make sure the kids are big enough to wade into the best casting locations.”

If the Bluestone’s water levels are normal for late April, the wading should be fairly easy. The fishing should be easy, too. The river receives stockings of rainbow trout, and hatchery-fresh fish tend to be easier to catch than wild or native fish.

Participants don’t even have to own fly rods. “If someone doesn’t have her own tackle, we will be happy to provide a rod and reel,” Rowley says.

Though the guides will provide most of the instruction and hands-on experience, Rowley says she will be there “to assist the women as needed.”

“Also, on Saturday night when we’re relaxing back at the lodge, I’ll teach a little bit about fly-tying. Then, on Sunday morning, the ladies can take the flies they tie out to the river and try to catch fish with them.”

Rowley believes the weekend “would be a perfect opportunity for a single mom to bring a kid and learn a pastime they can do together.”

The price tag? For the adults, the full package costs $340.51 per person based on double occupancy or $384.75 for single occupancy. For kids age 12 to 15, the package costs $256.24.

“That’s such a good deal,” Rowley says. “If you tried to put together something like this at another fly fishing-oriented facility here in West Virginia, you’d probably end up spending twice that much. This is a great opportunity to learn the basics at a very reasonable price.”

She believes teaching people to fish for trout is beneficial on several levels.

“One, it gives people a pastime they can participate in for their entire lives,” she says. “Two, people learn that trout have to have cold, clean water to survive. That, in turn, teaches them about conservation and [habitat] restoration. When more people are aware of what it takes to have trout, more people will work to make trout available in the future for their children.”

For more information, contact Ed Wooton at Pipestem, 304-466-1800, ext. 393.

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