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Women in the water:

Staff Reports

For hundreds of years, men have dominated the art of fishing. And the reason may be simple: our primitive ancestors divided hunting and gathering chores among the men of a tribe and domestic chores among the women.But take a walk down the banks of the Gore Creek in Vail and you might see 23-year old Samantha Johns perfectly casting her fly-line above trophy waters. Observe her for a little longer and she’ll soon pull a magnificent trout from the stream, take a quick look of admiration at the prize, and then release it back into the tumbling water, only to start the act over again. One thing is for sure – she isn’t afraid of touching bugs or the scale-covered bodies of fish.Hailing from Santa Teresa, N.M., Johns’ fondness for the outdoors was cultivated by growing up with a brother on a large cattle ranch where hunting and fishing were regular activities. After a deep sea fishing trip with her family, Johns realized just how much she was excited by fishing and decided to continue to learn more about the sport. At age 15 she took a fly-fishing lesson while in Vail and has been “hooked” ever since.While attending Texas A&M University, Johns came back to Vail every summer to hone her skills in the stream. With the combination of excellent tutelage, personal discipline, and a pure love for the sport, Johns’ ability grew to such a level that she was offered a position as a guide at the same place she had been taught eight years ago Gore Creek Fly Fisherman.As the only full-time female fly-fishing guide in the Vail area, Johns is under a different kind of pressure than her male co-workers. “Some clients show obvious signs of surprise when I’m introduced as the guide,” the attractive, blonde-haired Johns admits. “But most people get more comfortable once they realize that I can actually fish.”Johns feels that women, despite the dominance of men in her sport, are natural fly-fisherman.”Women have the finesse and patience to be great fly-fisherman. Men are known to be more visually attentive than women, while women are more audially attentive, which makes women better listeners and better instructors,” Johns observes. “Plus, the low-stress, no weight bearing nature of the sport makes it great for women looking for an enjoyable, relaxing, and rewarding hobby.”Working as a guide for Gore Creek Fly Fisherman was the most obvious choice for Johns, who commented that the experience she had there as a beginner has always stuck with her. “I was amazed at the friendliness and patience of everyone on the staff. They were so concentrated on having the group learn the fundamentals of the sport without pressure, and also taught us the fun of applying it in the water.”She’s also proud of her company’s status among Vail fisherman. Gore Creek Fly Fisherman has been around longer than any other outfitter and enjoys a prestigious reputation among purists, she says.As a fly-fishing guide, Johns takes groups or individuals on four-hour half days, or eight hour full-day fishing trips on one of the many trout streams in the Vail area. There are nine different areas of water the guides use privately, but they also have full usage of all public waters. The fishing location is selected by the guide based upon the client’s skill level, physical ability, and personal preference.”It’s very easy for the beginner to learn the basics of fly-fishing. The structure of any lesson will always begin with casting, work up through fly presentation, and on to reading water to determine where fish are most likely to be in a position to bite.”The last skill learned by the fly-fisherman is entomology, or the knowledge of which insect will catch fish in a particular body of water during a specific season.A good season runs through itAnyone interested in taking a fly-fishing lesson should take advantage of this season’s conditions. Last season saw the climax of Colorado’s draught-plagued climate. Many fishing locations such as the Eagle River were closed due to extremely low water depths and an excessive water temperature that proved fatal for thousands of native trout. The streams closed because the ecological impact of fishing in such waters exceeded practical standards.Heavy snow melt and water runoff from the Gore Range early this spring guarantees a prime fishing season, and Johns says all normal fishing locations in the area are producing excellent catches. Gore Creek itself is once again living up to its Gold Medal status due to the temperature and depth of its waters and the size of fish in the stream.Johns will ply her trade as a guide until August, when she will return to Texas to continue her education until next summer, anyway. Anyone interested in having Samantha Johns as a fly-fishing guide should contact Gore Creek Fly Fisherman. Anyone curious about fly-fishing in general should stop by the guide shop in the Vail Village or take advantage of the free casting clinic in the Gore Creek outside the guide shop every morning at 10:30. As a fly tip, Gore Creek offers this: Caddis Hatch is in season now. Green Drakes will be hatching soon.Fly-Fishing Outfitters in the Vail AreaVail Gore Creek Fly Fisherman Inc. 476-3296 gorecreekflyfisherman.comVail Gorsuch Outfitters 926-0900 gorsuch-outfitters.comAvon Fitz & Chico’s Fly Fishing Outfitters 845-1085Avon Fly Fishing Outfitters 845-8090 flyfishingoutfitters.netEagle Eagle River Anglers & Valley Guide 328-2323Wolcott – Vail Rod & Gun Club 926-3472By Matthew Charles


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