By Celeste Pruhomme
The answer is unequivocally YES! That’s the beauty of women in waders; you don’t have to worry whether they do or not, they just do. They make everyone’s butt look big!
I am surrounded by men in my life who love to fish; even my grandsons have gotten into the act. All I’d been hearing from these men since I told them about my fly fishing trip was that it would be a waste of time because I would never be able to learn to fly fish. needless to say, I wanted to “succeed” at fly fishing so I could proudly show off a picture of me and my prize fish.
The first thing Patty K and I did when we found out we were going on this adventure was to go shopping for our fishing hats. of course Patty wanted to check out the fly fishing vests as well because those of you who know Patty know that Patty always likes to accessorize. We finally decided that our personal fishing guides could hold our stuff for us because the vests might add too much bulk to our fishing ensembles. Once we got there we found out it was a good decision because it was too darn hot for the layered look.
Of course I’m talking about the Reeling & Healing Midwest program that Patty, Joline, Liz, Julie, Lori and I attended in July 2011. From the moment we arrived, there was an attitude of “what can we do for you?” For any of you ladies that haven’t been on this adventure yet, you should make plans to do so if for no other reason that the wonderful experience of being treated like royalty, but with a fishing hat instead of a crown.
As soon as we arrived at Gates Au Sable Lodge, we were checked in, fitted for our waders, and escorted to our lodging quarters to await orientation and dinner. The whole 2-1/2 days consisted of volunteers asking us what they could do for us. You didn’t even have to get your own water; they’d get it for you. I didn’t even have to tie my own boots, not that I could have. For some reason, once you bend, you look like the Michelin Man, but once you enter the cool water of the river, the air miraculously disappears. The expectation of getting into the river kept building as we went through orientation. Most of us did get in the water every chance we got just as a way to try and cool down.
The next morning. after the proper amount of instruction and some time on land practicing our casting, we strapped on those sexy waders and made our way out to the middle of the holy waters of the beautiful Au Sable River as it flowed gently by, surrounded by nothing but the great Northern Michigan outdoors, a few thousand bugs and what the guides call the “aluminum hatch.” The aluminum hatch is how they refer to canoers (They turn out to be as annoying as the bugs). According to the fishing guides, these thousands of bugs are a good thing; it seems that’s what trout feed on – ergo – fly fishing. Anyhow, I began to question whether fly fishing was something I really wanted to do if all these bugs were a “good” thing. Thankfully they don’t bite or sting or cause any harm. Whatever, it was the perfect setting for a 2-1/2 day fly fishing adventure.
Finally it was time for all twelve participants and our guides to enter the cooling waters of the river, setting out to try and hook that rare but beautiful prize-winning trout. I had wanted to be able to brag to the members of my family that I caught a real beauty, all the while knowing that I could always fall back on the “big one that got away” story. If all else failed, maybe there was a fish monger in town I could buy a big rainbow trout from to take my picture with – found out there wasn’t. One lucky lady did catch a nice brown trout, but her guide lost it so it turns out the “fish that got away” story is real and I witnessed it with my own eyes.
Due to the unusual heat, we weren’t able to have the nightly campfire. But we did gather around the riverside fire pit and talked. We each received a river rock that had a message written on it from a previous participant from an earlier retreat. We would have the honor of passing along this tradition to the next week’s participants. The fire circle (minus the fire) was a wonderful way to get to know a little bit about each woman. There was a special stone that has been a tradition at all of the retreats and each woman holds it as she tells her story or what she hoped to take away from the experience of fly fishing.What a fabulous way to bond with the other participants and I couldn’t help but notice that each woman there had been courageous enough to fight her own battle with cancer and was still among us and still looking for new adventures. What strong and wonderful women they are!
Forget about the big fish that got away; this trip was about so much more than that. It really was about healing through serene surroundings, getting in touch with that inner need for calmness, and sharing with your comrades in this battle we must constantly wage upon cancer.
FISH ON! See you at a retreat!