NEPA Fly Girls not just for women

First Posted: 8/12/2014

“Because fishing can be fun” is the motto of NEPA Fly Girls, a newly-formed fishing organization that includes women from all walks of life looking for a sense of fun and camaraderie.

For members who have a longing to learn fly casting, NEPA Fly Girls offers both education and social opportunities. The group’s first planned activity, “Women, Wine and Water,” will be held 6 to 9 p.m.on Friday, Aug. 15 at A & G Outfitters, 542 Boulevard Ave., Dickson City. Wine tasting, a fashion show featuring women’s fishing apparel and equipment are part of the lineup.

Advisers Cara Sutherland and Charles Charlesworth recently founded the group affiliated with Trout Unlimited Lackawanna Valley Chapter No. 414.

Monthly meetings, regularly scheduled fly fishing outings in northeast Pennsylvania and occasional trips outside local waters, are among the perks offered but there are also opportunities for quiet retreats where women can gather to share skills related to fly fishing, crafts, art or inspirational topics, according to Sutherland. The outings are primarily recreational, but mentoring by more advanced fly casters is encouraged.

Sutherland, who works as the executive director of the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art, said her love for fishing dates back to her childhood, when she fished with her grandfather at a young age.

“I have memories of fishing with my grandfather when I was 4 or 5 years old, but really did not pick up a rod until high school age,” said Sutherland. “My family has spent time in the Florida Keys for more than 50 years and every winter we go down to fish and relax. I came to fly fishing via saltwater casting for bonefish and then added freshwater fishing to my hobbies a few years later. I do not get the time on the water that I would like given how busy the Everhart Museum is these days, but when I do, I find it is a relaxing pastime for it clears my mind as I focus on casting.”

Although the words “fly girls” denote a single gender purpose, membership is open to any interested individuals.

Clarks Summit resident Charlesworth, a longtime fly fishing angler and member of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, explained the evolution of NEPA Fly Girls.

“Several years ago Trout Unlimited National forwarded to PATU (PA Council of Trout Unlimited) that they had begun a women’s initiative. We at PATU tried to promote this idea in NEPA as a test case. We held two conference calls with women who were existing members of Trout Unlimited to try to gain acceptance of this movement. It never really got off the ground,” said Charlesworth.

“I knew that the chief instructor at the PA Fish and Boat Commission, Amida Daniel, was a female and the wife of one of the most prominent professional fly fishermen, George Daniel. The idea was to get her to be the chief instructor and we would get some of our other female members to serve as her assistants. That way, we were able to offer a women’s only class with all women instructors, thereby eliminating the intimidation factor,” he said.

Charlesworth has known Sutherland for nearly a decade and knew that in addition to her experience with fishing museums in New York and Virginia, along with her position at the Everhart, “she was also a very good organizer and fly fisher,” he explained in an email interview.

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