Becoming an Outdoors Woman

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

equipment that's sized for you. No matter how stupid you might fear your questions are, you'll find answers that respect your intelligence from instructors who are deeply passionate about their fields.

"I've always enjoyed canoeing," said Virginia Bailey of Jefferson City, "but I didn't really understand what was happening in the back."

Now Bailey feels confident enough in her new skills and wants to take the back of the canoe for a change.

Ginny Wallace attended BOW workshops with the idea of accompanying her husband on a few deer hunting trips. Since then she has branched out into turkey hunting.

"It's something I do because I really like it," she said. "My husband thinks it's really neat, but his work schedule doesn't allow him to hunt during turkey season."

"I've been fishing a few times," said Carrie Newman of St. Charles, "but usually I was handed a pole that was already baited. I didn't really know what to do with it. I'm here because I love to fish and I want to be good at it," she said.

Another reason she came was for a relaxing weekend.

"I don't know about you, but most women spend a lot of time worrying about others. I really miss my family, but for this weekend I've set aside a lot of those worries. Here, the attention is focused on helping us accomplish our goals. It's a refreshing change."

I smile and nod because I, too, left a pack of my own worries somewhere on the highway behind me and, though I miss my family, the time spent here has become a solid gold memory. As I walked to my bunk after the auction and outdoor fashion show, time stood as still as the moon.

But all good things come to an end, and the next morning I awoke for my last session of the workshop, a quick trip through the fly-tying world. We got a little bit of history, a little bit of color and then a lot of hands-on work tying our own flies.

From the looks of things, I didn't think my fishing fly would ever come together. It looked like a cross between a strange alien creature and a miniature trash heap.

I heard, "Hey, am I doing this right?" from several corners of the room, and I knew I wasn't alone in my confusion. Three instructors worked the room, examining our handiwork and giving us individual pointers.

In just a few more twists and turns, I had tied my first-ever woolly bugger, a trophy that now resides in my ever-ready tackle box.

Across from me, my neighbor, Norma Carr, was finishing up her own woolly bugger. She liked it so much, she tied another and then another and, I presume, they too have found an appropriate place of honor in her fishing box.

We were all ready to try another fly after that. Our instructors had the perfect one in mind, a woolly worm-type fly called a crackleback.

This small jewel has an ostrich feather going down its back that looks like a vein--a vein that took nimble fingers and much patience to coax into just the right spot.

"Did I do it right?" I asked my instructor, Jerry Kemple, before I made the final cut of my thread, the one from which there could be no turning back.

"Hey, that's a good one," he exclaimed when he saw my handiwork. "Now that ought to catch fish."

His words were an echo of a dearly treasured memory, the voice of my own grandfather saying those same words after inspecting the worm my 8-year-old fingers had put on my hook.

"Now, cast it out there" he would say, his hand waving at the rippling waters, "cast it out there and wait. You'll get a bite, just wait and see."

I can almost hear him now

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