Fish Wives is a simple concept – women should enjoy fly fishing and yet very few ever even try it. Is this because most don’t manage to get past the bastion of masculinity most fishing lakes represent? If the brave do get to stand elbow to elbow with a “proper” angler, they then need the confidence to have a go at what seems at first glance pretty simple, but is actually quite a tricky skill to pick up. Tracy Thew, who started Fish Wives, has a passion for fishing and one that is instantly infectious.
She also has a lovely, calming way of describing things so the women she teaches have the best possible opportunity to learn and because you are only surrounded by girls, there’s no one to point and laugh, except your sisters. Within an hour of careful instruction five of us were proficient enough to be let loose on the lake wearing hats and glasses – not a sartorial requirement, I discovered, rather to save your delicate facial features from meeting a barbed fish hook on its way back from a dodgy cast.
We ranged in age from 15 to 75, a group made up of a few seasoned experts mixed with total beginners. For starters, you are in a beautiful spot – almost by definition. Running water and peace is what you need to be a happy trout – so you can count on a day of bucolic splendor even if you don’t actively enjoy the activity. Hardly strenuous, the rod is very light weight and easy to assemble, the basics are pretty easy to grasp, however, I am currently suffering from what my mother described as “fisherman’s elbow”. Fly fishing requires you to simultaneously to think on many levels and concentrate on learning a skill thar seems straight forward, where the only sound is the running water and the occasional plop of a fish poking his nose out to taunt you.
But that isn’t where all of Tracy’s passion lies – she definitely wants you to be hooked (pardon the pun) but she also wants you to have a great day out – a day filled with home baked treats, a giant spread of deliciousness for lunch and scrumptious tea punctuated with a little bit of contemplative fishing. And because it is all women, we naturally had a good chin-wag whenever the fish weren’t listening. And we laughed: at each other and at ourselves.
Inspired to get women in to bastions of traditionally male sports, Tracy is also formulating Game Girls: aimed at the older teens/early twenties to expose them to all manner of country pursuits. I certainly find her inspirational… she’s lived a life and is more than happy to chat to you and share her philosophies and experiences.
So… all in all, I would prescribe this as the perfect tonic for the soul: peaceful, not at all strenuous, repetitive actions in a gorgeous location, punctuated with the occasional burst of excitement as a trout is snagged and then (with any luck) landed. You can keep all the fish you catch – Tracy is a wealth of information on how to cook them once they are home – and there is nothing more delicious (it turns out) than a fresh fish that has gone from lake to table in a matter of hours.
Rods, fish licenses, instruction and hearty fare await you. All you need to bring is a sense of humour and a sense of adventure.