In mid-May, Frontiers hosted a special Introduction to Fly Fishing Weekend with Barry and Cathy Beck in Benton, PA. Despite the unusually temperamental weather, the group had a lot of fun and caught quite a few fish.
Three Frontiers team members – Laura, Megan and Samantha – attended the weekend and walked away with several new techniques for their fly fishing arsenal. Read on as they share their fondest memories from the trip.
Ever think you are doing something right only to take a class and realize you have been doing it wrong all along? Well, that is what happened to me during the Woman’s Fly Fishing Weekend with Cathy Beck. When I was asked to go to this event, I was thrilled and thought, “YES! I can finally sharpen my casting skills with a pro!!” Little did I know I would rethink everything I thought I knew about how to properly cast. After morning instruction, it came time for us to practice casting out in the yard using hula hoops as bull’s eyes. I was confident I could land my fly right smack dab in the middle of the hoop. Not only did I not hit my target, I wasn’t even close! I kept inching closer to my neighbor’s hula hoop instead.
Furthermore, I had learned the fundamentals of my casting were all wrong. Let me paint a picture for you. My stance was that of a baseball player poised at home plate – slightly turned and crouched, ready to smack that ball out of the park. Once Cathy realized what I was doing, she quickly helped me to correct it. She explained, “Stand facing the hoop. Don’t slouch. The rod is not a baseball bat nor to be used as one. Keep the rod at 10 (in front) and 2 (in back), hold it straight up and down (not sideways) and do not use your whole shoulder to cast.”
Through Cathy’s suggestions, I learned that stopping the rod at these proper locations and letting the line load up in back and front makes for a better cast. Basically, I discovered what little physical effort it takes when casting the correct way. The only muscles that were sore on me later in the evening were my forearm and wrist. Not the entire right side of my body like my first fly fishing experience. I also learned that some habits are hard to break. Cathy and our guide, Brad, had to keep correcting my stance the entire weekend.
I came out of that weekend determined to practice my casting skills on a weekly basis and I just happen to work at the best place to be able to do just that. Frontiers! Look for me out on our back office lawn using the office rod to practice. Once I get the technique down pat, I want to start perfecting my roll cast.
South America Department
Going into the weekend, I was a tad nervous about learning how to fly fish, even though I have wanted to learn for some time now. My doubts stem from being one of those people who needs to perfect something before I try it in front of others. However, my fears going into the weekend could not have been more misplaced. Cathy Beck is a wonderful instructor with a true passion for fly fishing, and her wonderful instruction on Saturday led to my great morning of fly fishing on Sunday with Barry Beck as my guide.
Sunday morning was unseasonably cold for May, and Barry warned me that the fish would be less active due to the conditions. He was correct. We could see fish all around us, some I could reach out and touch, but not a single fish wanted my fly. Barry was not giving up hope though. He would change the fly constantly to try to entice the fish. After what seemed like an hour, I finally landed a fish! It put up a bit of a fight, which is my favorite part. I ended up reeling in a brown trout and was very proud of my first catch. After catching the first fish, I have to admit I was a bit addicted. Being out on the stream, I began to understand the game in targeting a fish and working to get it hooked from that point on. In all, I caught three brown trout that morning thanks to Barry’s awesome guiding skills.
My biggest advice to anyone interested in fly fishing is… BEWARE! Once you try it you will be hooked. I can no longer pass a stream without thinking how much I want to go fishing.
South America Department
My favorite experience from the weekend was putting what I learned from Cathy Beck in the classroom to use at the practice pond. During the instruction at the pond, Cathy would explain, “Pretend like you are flicking a marshmallow off of a stick.” She and our guide, Brad, stood behind each of us and watched us while we casted. They would then critique each part of our cast and offer suggestions on how to improve. At first, I could not get the motion right, but finally mastered it with Cathy and Brad’s help.
After we spent some time at the practice pond, we walked down to the stocked pond. There were a lot of fish in this pond and they seemed pretty active. I was the first one to cast out in the water. I had to cast out about three times before I got my first bite. The first fish I hooked was a big fighter. At one point, I thought I was going to lose my grip on the rod because the fish was so strong. This fish made me walk from one side of the pond all the way to the other. He moved really close to the edge of the pond and I was about to reel him in. Then suddenly, I lost him. Cathy told me to cast out again and before I knew it I had another on my fly. This fish did not fight as much as my first fish did. I reeled it in and Cathy used the net to bring it out of the pond. The striper was huge! I never held a fish before, and it was very slimy and slippery.
We all caught about four or five fish in the pond over a period of two or three hours. I feel like this practice session at the pond got us ready to fish in the stream the next day. All in all, I caught three stripers and one bluegill. I used a Sage 5-weight, 9 foot rod, with a brown beetle fly.
After spending the weekend fly fishing, I would definitely like to go fly fishing more often. I learned that fly fishing is way harder than it looks and definitely takes a lot of hand/eye coordination. I know why so many people enjoy it!