In Wyoming, fisherwomen come together for sport, camaraderie

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Fly-fishing is not just a man’s sport, but it can sometimes feel that way to the women who want to break in.

Enter the University of Wyoming’s Fish N’ Chicks – a student group that brings together women who want to learn about the sport, share their expertise or just go fishing with others who share their interest.

“The reason this group was created was to have a relaxed atmosphere for women to be able to learn about fly-fishing and to be able to learn about it with other women,” said Maggie Jordan, the club’s president.

Jordan said she has been fishing since she was old enough to lift a fishing pole, and fly-fishing since she was 12 years old. She said she enjoys fly-fishing because it offers an excuse to get outdoors and appreciate wildlife – but in such a male-heavy sport, women can often feel underestimated.

“I still find it really intimidating to walk into one of the fly shops in town,” Jordan said. “I want to go ask, ‘Oh, how’s the fishing?’ – like all the other guys do. It’s just I feel you get looked at different. (They think) it’s great that women are going out there fishing, but they don’t expect you to know very much. And sometimes, we don’t, and it kind of is hard for someone to put themselves out there to try to learn.”

A newcomer to the group, Dominique Lujan moved to Laramie in January to pursue a master’s in zoology.

“It seemed like a cool group of girls, so I decided to join the club and it was just a way for me to get involved with the fly-fishing community here in Laramie,” she said. “It was kind of nice that it was fellow college women who also enjoy fly-fishing.”

Lujan said she started fishing four or five years ago when her academic interest in aquatic ecology, and especially fisheries, put her in contact with the sport. Since then, she had been involved with other fly-fishing groups and found the woman-centered Fish N’ Chicks welcoming.

“It’s just easier to get involved with girls who understand your interests,” she said. “In the field that I work in, it’s mostly a male-dominated field, so it’s kind of nice to just have other ladies that like to do the things you do.”

The club also provides an opportunity for more experienced fisherwomen to share their knowledge with those newer to the sport by demonstrating how to tie a fly or how to handle fish.

“We have people from all skill ranges,” Jordan said. “(Some) are great at it and don’t need to learn too much more, and then there’s girls who have never fished before at all. So, the skill range is all over the place.”

Jordan added the group meets up about once a month when the weather is nice, to practice a skill or take a day trip to locations just outside of Laramie to get out and practice their skills.

But the group’s biggest event of the year is a float trip on the Bighorn River by Thermopolis.

“We’re doing a big float trip, which we usually do at the end of the year, which is something we really look forward to and what we do all our fundraising for.”

Throughout the year, Fish N’ Chicks provides an opportunity for women to enjoy a favored sport with other enthusiasts or to learn fly-fishing from other women.

“Honestly, most guys aren’t very good at teaching that kind of thing,” Jordan said. “They just don’t understand.”

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