Fishing with the Gals: The Gallatin Valley Wad'n Women

Fishing with the Gals: The Gallatin Valley Wad'n Women

Heimann, Ginny
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The first few times I went fishing with the Gallatin Valley Wad’n Women, my fly would end up under a rock, on my shirt, or on the top branch of a tree. Every now and then I managed a good cast. Eventually my patience and perseverance paid off. My fly disappeared into the mouth of a beautiful rainbow, I felt the bend in the rod—and I was hooked. Every time I go fishing with these gals, I learn a new trick of the trade. The most important thing, though, is that we have fun while learning.

Originally formed in the 1990s by Pam King of the Bozeman Angler, today the Wad’n Women are headed by Terese Shekitka and include members of all levels of experience and ability, from first-year rookies to lifelong anglers. Not only will you have a blast with all the other ladies, you will leave with loads of knowledge to enhance your fly-fishing skills. There are no requirements for membership in the group other than an interest in fly-fishing. The main focus is to provide an atmosphere where women of all ages and abilities can enjoy the sport of fly-fishing and have fun in a non-competitive sporting environment.

Several owners of local fly-fishing shops and their guides have supported the Wad’n Women by providing clinics and fishing outings. Montana Troutfitters, The Bozeman Angler, Greater Yellowstone Flyfishers, and The Rivers Edge have graciously helped the women with their clinics. Josh Stanish of Montana Troutfitters has personally hosted many seminars for the group. “I’ve really enjoyed the group and the enthusiasm that all the ladies show for the sport,” he says.

This season there will be several clinics and fishing outings to choose from. The following topics will be featured in this year’s clinics: bug identification; gear selection (rods, reels, lines; leaders, flies, clothing, etc.); techniques for casting dry flies, nymphs and streamers; and water-reading strategies. The lake fishing, drift boat fishing, and wade fishing outings will give you an opportunity to hook a feisty trout that may give you a run for your money—or even strip your fly line into the backing!

One of the group’s most popular events is the annual drift boat trip on the Yellowstone River during a major caddis fly hatch. The excitement starts in the parking lot before the river is even in sight. The women pair up for their drift boat assignments (new members generally team up with more established members). Questions soon begin to circulate such as “when will the hatch start?” or “are we going to catch trout or whitefish?” and “how many do you think we’ll catch today?”

“Once on the river, the excitement is virtually palpable,” says Shekitka. “Most of us can hardly wait to get our fly lines singing with flies heading for gulping fish mouths, which are busy sucking down the caddis flies as they hatch. There are times the caddis flies are so thick in the air that one risks swallowing, or worse yet, inhaling the swarming flies when whooping or hollering after hooking up with a hungry fish.” Laughter and banter can be heard up and down the river as the driftboats keep up a friendly competition regarding numbers and types of fish caught. “No matter what the weather, the day is a wonderful experience for all involved,” Shekitka continues, “with good fun, food, and stories shared with old and new friends.”

In 2003, with the support of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, (FWP) and the help of Stanish and Montana Troutfitters, the Wad’n Women adopted the Four Corners Fishing Access. Much like Adopt-a-Highway, the Adopt-a-Fishing Access program is a direct effort to maintain and improve Fishing Access Sites (FAS) and to improve landowner and user relationships along Montana’s waterways. The Wad’n Women are proud to be a sponsor of Four Corners and with the help of the members and volunteers dedicate their time and efforts to providing public service for other fly fishers.

If you’re interested in joining the Gallatin Valley Wad’n Women, contact Terese Shekitka at [email protected]. Annual dues are $25, which allows members free participation in all clinics, fishing trips, and events. Members also receive a fly box with six flies, a newsletter, and a roster of members. Non-members are welcome and invited to participate at each event for a fee of $5.00. Come and join the fun!

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