On a recent weekday evening at the Laramie Plains Civic Center, despite a ferocious wind outside, a dozen women played the soundtrack of summer mornings on alpine lakes.
The south gym was quiet except for occasional low words, the whiz of fly lines and the rattle of winding reels. The only sound missing was the splash of trout rising to feed.
Indoor casting on a winter evening is an activity that belongs to those who are optimistic summer will return to the Laramie Valley. It’s also a way for those new to fly-fishing to learn the rhythm of the sport.
University of Wyoming student Brittany Nordberg instructed a newcomer in the fine art of imitating an insect in the eyes of a hungry trout.
“When you come forward, let your line lie down,” she said.
The casting clinic was organized by Fish N’ Chicks, a fly-fishing club for women at UW. Nordberg said the club aims to encourage more women to check out an activity historically dominated by men. “Our main goal is to make it less intimidating to women and appeal to those who are beginners,” she said.
The club was founded last year, and members meet regularly for day trips, fly-tying demonstrations, lectures and casting clinics. Members planned a multi-day float trip through the Wind River Canyon for May.
According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, about three quarters of those who participate in fly-fishing are men.
Nordberg, who started fly-fishing in high school in Cody, said the sport’s appeal doesn’t have to be gender-specific.
“Fly-fishing is peaceful activity,” she said. “I would love the idea of sharing something so awesome with other people.”
She said her favorite local fishing area is the Snowy Range, with its abundant alpine lakes.
“I feel like it’s a neat way to connect with nature,” she said.
She also loves the fly-tying side of the sport and the challenge of creating something that imitates an insect well enough to lure a trout onto the line.
“It’s amazing that you can even do that,” she said.
Carissa Cooley, a UW junior, said she’s interested in improving at the sport as a way to connect with her dad.
“I figured if this is something I can learn here how to do it better, it’s something I can do when I go home,” she said.
She enjoys fly-fishing better than other types of fishing because of the skill and strategy required.
“You have to have more patience,” she said. “You’re luring (the fish) to you.”
For UW junior Brittany Wagler, the all-female club is a way to give women confidence.
“They can go out and fish with the guys and be just as good,” she said.
As well, Nordberg said, now she never lacks for friends interested in the same hobby.
“You always have someone to go fishing with,” she said.