Women Wine & Waders Fly Fishing Festival
Have you talked to Aunt Judy lately? Wonder how Uncle Buddy is doing? When is the family reunion? Did the kids win their ballgame? No music on that trip…just my sister and I catching up. It was our first trip ever together. It was so much fun that weekend.
My vehicle was jammed packed. I’m sure you have heard the phrase “like a can of sardines!” All the gear, food, coolers, gifts, jewelry display and door prizes.
Time flies by while we were talking. I don’t always have company on my road trips. So this was fun having Gina with me. By the way, we were driving to Harman’s Luxury Log Cabins in Cabins, WV. It was the first Fly Fishing Festival for my group, Women Wine & Waders and I was the host for fourteen ladies.
As we were traveling I showed my sister points of interest along the way. We live in such a beautiful state. “Look over there, I fished that water with three of my girlfriends. It was so cold that weekend that the guides on my fly rod iced over. We all ended up on bar stools eating dinner and sharing fishing tales to anyone that would listen.
“Look over here sis, that is my favorite barn. I love taking pictures of it through the seasons.” Yes you could say we were in no hurry. Just enjoying the trip.
We checked in at Harmans’s office, and drove to the cabin. I was excited for Gina to see how majestic the scenery was there. The river we fished was the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomoc. It flows into the Chesapeake Bay. This is crystal clear waters of the healing kind.
We parked and unloaded our luggage from the car. We went inside the cabin and sis was so excited. I knew she would love it there. This is one of the most scenic areas in West Virginia. And the bonus is trophy trout fishing.
We were on the deck looking out to the river when one of the girls arrived. It was Janice, with a big smile on her face. Welcome. She was the first to arrive and was eager to start fishing.
Then gradually the rest of the girls showed up: Missy, Tracy, Lisa, Rebecca, Jennie, Loria and daughter Katie, Courtney, Mary, Shanon and Mitzi. Oh and I can’t forget Trevor with Forced 2 Focus. He filmed us with drone and GoPro footage of the weekend.
The girls began their casting lessons right away. During the lessons our “guest of honor” arrived. We were excited to have a founding member of “Able Women”, Jessica Callihan join us. Jessica lives in Tennessee and was there to spend the weekend fishing with us!
*Able Women is an Organization with eight founding members from across the United States, Belize and Canada. They are a public outreach initiative designed to spread the word about fly fishing and the many emotional, physical and spiritual benefits it brings.
After the casting lessons we all went to the main cabin for a “meet and greet.” All the girls piled in and started talking, sharing interests, eating and having a little wine tasting. I gave a brief speech and welcomed them to the first Women Wine & Waders Fly Fishing Festival. Then I presented each of them with a ball cap from my sponsor “Lucky’s Outdoors in Summersville, WV.
We were all interested in Jessica’s story. What happened to her and how did she start fly fishing? She suffered a fall while in the Navy that left her in a wheelchair. Through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing they encouraged her to get out in the water and fish. They literally saved her life and gave her the inspiration to start painting.
Everyone was sitting around talking, admiring Jessica’s artwork, sipping wine, enjoying this wonderful evening of new friendships. As I looked across the room a thought entered my mind. These girls were here from across our state of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. They were here because of an idea I had to share my passion of fly fishing. It reminded me of the first fly fishing trip I took and how it changed my life. If it wasn’t for that trip these ladies wouldn’t have been there. It’s amazing to look back and think about the domino effect in life.
Yum…It wasn’t only the smell of the freshly brewed coffee. It was the bacon, eggs, gravy, fried potatoes and cat-head biscuits that I woke up to. My sister cooked a great meal. Does it get any better than this? A beautiful morning, scrumptious breakfast with friends in a cabin on the river.
After breakfast everyone was putting their waders on and getting their gear together. Smiles, giggles…it sounded like a schoolyard. The girls were so happy and excited to be there. Heck I was excited to be there. Trevor took a group photo of us. I love it!
After our rods were rigged up we all headed to the river. Everyone paired off in different directions for a day of fishing. We caught some beautiful rainbow’s nymphing and on dry flies towards evening. We eventually called it a day and all get ready for dinner.
Before dinner I had an Awards Ceremony. We had a lot to celebrate, Katies’s 20th Birthday and Lisa won her second battle with cancer. As I called the girls names, each came up and received their certificates. I left two names for last.
When I started designing jewelry I wanted a special piece made. A necklace inscribed “Hero.” When we hear the word used we think of someone who fought in a war or saved a life. My definition also includes a person who has overcome a serious injury or life-threatening illness. We have two ladies with us that are in that category. Lisa Conley Wills and Jessica Callihan, please step forward.
I was looking out at the girls trying to keep my composure and they were holding back tears. Lisa and Jessica walk forward for their certificates. I hug them both and give them the first Fly Girl Jewelry “Hero” necklaces. By then all of us were in tears.
In closing, I said, “This was a weekend of firsts. The first Women Wine & Waders Fly Fishing Festival, your first time fly fishing, my sister and I first trip together, Fly Girl Jewelry was unveiled, Birthday celebration, and the first Able Women Connection. You ladies were a part of my first event and will always have a special place in my heart. I hope you learned the basics of fly fishing and that you share it with others. Now go out-fish your husbands!
We all had dinner and enjoyed our last night together. It was a girls only club that weekend. We had a nice bonfire started and all gathered round. Fishing tales and laughter, it was clearly a sign that the past few days had been successful.
“The night sky was aglow with stars that shine the brightest in these majestic mountains.”
Sunday morning I was watching the sunrise from the cabin deck while enjoying a cup of nutty caramel coffee. No movement from the cabins. I felt like a mom waiting on her children to wake up, leave home and start a new life. I didn’t want the weekend to end. But one by one the girls packed up and on the road back to their life.
You see it wasn’t only about the fish we caught. It’s about the adventures, memories and friendships made. These are not material things. They are stories that will last a lifetime and be passed on for generations. Getting our souls away from everyday life and or problems, sickness and into nature…into these healing waters.
It’s truly about finding what you enjoy and living life.