Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From Stilleto's to Spey Rods...A New Life Discovered.

Gentlemen, we live in a dudes dominated sport.    Just about everything about it is geared for us.  Waders, Rods, Jackets, the drinking, dick and fart jokes....sounding familiar anyone?
Breaking into this crazy bunch isnt easy thing, but imagine being a girl who's never fished before.   
Recently I asked Lisa Rice, a newly devout fisher-lady to write a guest post about the transition from stiletto's to spey rods.  What a gigantic jump?
With help from her helpful fiance Andrew, the candle burns bright for this lady angler.  

It’s hard for me to remember what life was like before casting a spey rod and fishing for steelhead. Although, I am pretty sure it was less exciting, more expensive, and a lot less rewarding.
Growing up, I had horses, so it wasn’t like I never was outdoors or had an outdoor hobby as a kid. I loved digging up clams and getting fresh crab with my family at our cabin in the San Juan Islands. I was a part of Campfire girls. I was a part of Pony Club. I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty. I guess fishing just never was introduced to me in a way that caught on, or was as intriguing as it was when I was shown how to cast a fly rod for the first time.
In college—mostly in the earlier years, I did what a lot of girls my age did. I played volleyball, went on dates, liked to shop, and of course, did my share of partying.  So, the outdoors just stayed- well- outdoors. I found myself working retail and buying the retail I was selling. Shopping was definitely not a foreign idea, and I rarely left the house without makeup on. At the time, it didn’t seem like I was missing out on anything, but now that am in a place where I would rather find myself wading in a river swinging flies for steelhead than in a bar having superficial conversations with people that I can barely hear over loud music, I can definitely say that I wish I had discovered this other world a lot sooner.
Thankfully, almost three years ago, I was united with an amazing man who not only loved to fish, but who also loved to teach people how to fish. It is one thing to date someone who fishes, and they just go do their thing and you go to yours, but it is quite another to date someone who actually wants to show you what they love to do and share it with you. I am grateful to be with the latter. After only dating for a couple weeks, Andrew asked me if I wanted to go with him to a fly-fishing event in Monroe (the Jimmy Green Memorial Fly Expo), so that I could check it all out and he could show me what it was that took up his spare time. It was at this expo that I picked up my first single hand rod, and even tried casting a spey rod for the first time too. I guess I just killed a couple birds with one stone (or a rod in this case…). Shortly after that, we went to his parent’s cabin in the Methow Valley and he took me trout fishing. It was there that I hooked my first small trout and that was it. Pun very much intended—I was HOOKED. Seeing that mouth come up and grab the fly and then watching the line go straight to a shiny silver fish jumping out of the river… it was unbelievable.  Not to mention the whole adrenaline rush of fighting a fish on a fly rod with a single action reel, making it that much more of a challenge and a thrill.

Steelhead, were a foreign species to me when Andrew took me to the Grande Ronde for my first attempt at catching one. He told me that trout fishing was fun and difficult in its own way, but steelhead fishing was what he was really passionate about. He said it was like nothing else, to fight a steelhead on a fly rod. The way they ran and jumped… how you had to work to get these fish to your fly and then, if you were lucky, to your feet. Right away, I was gung-ho and couldn’t wait to get out there and try it for myself. On that trip, I hooked and landed not just one, but four, wild steelhead on a single-handed 9 wt. rod. I was elated. I also was quickly made aware that I was extremely lucky to hook and land that number of amazing fish for my first time out, even for an experienced fisherman. But, I knew that from that point on, I would have a relentless passion for the challenge nonetheless.  I was more than just “hooked”, I was obsessed.

Nearly three years later, I find myself looking for any excuse to get out on the river and cast a spey rod to find more steelhead. Ten years ago, I never would have guessed that I would be in this place-- one of pure enjoyment, unpredictability, excitement, disappointment, unbelievable experiences, memorable adventures and-- most importantly-- a life-long endeavor.

 I love everything about steelhead fishing. I love learning new casts and ways to improve on my casting. I watch videos of well-respected spey casters to learn new techniques.  I read articles and blogs written by other women who fly-fish for steelhead and even some that have made it their career. I admire what they have accomplished, and how they have turned what has been traditionally known as a male dominated sport into one where women are now guiding, teaching and even running fishing lodges all over the world. It is truly spectacular. It makes me hungry for more. I may have only started fishing a couple years ago, but I know now that it is something that I will pursue and embrace from now until I die. It’s knowing that, that makes me realize how lucky I am.

You can find more of Lisa's work at Hoof Prints and Fish Tales, as she too is a blogger.


  1. Nice guest post by a very cool sounding angling person. Assuming you've fished with her, Josh, is it safe to assume she outfished you handily?

  2. "I love everything about steelhead fishing."
    So you've learned to enjoy and respect nymphing as well then?

  3. Anonymous- Yes, I love everything about steelhead fishing. I have never nymphed for them before, but I respect people who do it. No matter how people choose to fish for steelhead, as long as the fish are treated with respect, that's all that matters.

  4. Sweet! Forgive the somewhat snotty challenge, I appreciate your answer. And congratulations on such great fishing experiences.