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Three Guides: Women on the Water

09/27/17 at 06:51 AM by Vince Puzick

Women represent the fastest growing population taking up fly fishing.  In 2012, the Denver Post spotlighted this growing trend and Orvis has launched its 50/50 campaign to get more women on the water.  Forbes magazine recently featured Orvis’ efforts to cater to the woman angler in its article “Orvis:  How To Reinvent A 160 Year Old Fly Fishing Company.”  Three of our guides, Sharon Wright, Kristina Dougherty, and Kaitlin Boyer talk about their passion, experience, and goals on the water. 


Focus on the Positive


Colorado-born Sharon Wright pretty much epitomizes the outdoor lifestyle you might expect from a native of this state.  Around these parts, she’s known The Fly Fishing Cowgirl.   


Sharon began working for Angler’s Covey in 2008 as the shop’s bookkeeper.  Around 2010, her passion for the sport and for sharing it with others motivated her to work with Becky Leinweber, Angler’s Covey co-owner, to form Pikes Peak Women Anglers


As Pikes Peak Women Anglers has grown over the last seven years, so have the ways the group supports women anglers.  Women are less likely to go fish by themselves, so PPWA provides a social group in which women can learn and pursue fly fishing with others. “We have a core group of women who are very much involved, and we have over 100 followers on FB,” Sharon says.  


Sharon sees her role as a guide and staff member as decreasing the intimidation factor and increasing the confidence of anglers.  “Women who have been somewhat intimidated to begin fly fishing start to gain confidence. And that’s really rewarding for me.” 


Women anglers often times have questions about equipment and clothing that are specific to their needs. 


“I just encourage women taking up the sport to talk with other women.  Ask a lot of questions!  We can help with rods, reels, boots, and waders.”   Sharon points out that companies like Orvis, Simms, and Fishpond have sling packs and chest packs that are comfortable for women who have a smaller frame than men.  It’s a matter of being a smart and informed shopper to find what works for you. 


Above all, Sharon encourages folks – men and women alike – to not miss the opportunity to learn and try new things.  “Focus on the positive.  Break through the fear to explore new experiences.” 


Take it all in


Kristina Dougherty is an artist.  Seriously.  Kristina has a degree in Studio Art in Sculpture from Colorado College and is a Certified Solidworks Professional. She’s also a fly fishing guide, a member of the Angler’s Covey sales team, and an entrepreneur.


When Kristina was 7 year old, she contracted Lyme’s Disease. “It hit my nervous system pretty hard.”  At times growing up, she was restricted to a wheelchair.  She had pain from her waist down, cycles of pain that required pain meds.  At one point, she had an implant that would regulate the meds.  After about twenty years, the disease took a turn for the better.  Doctors were surprised.  “It was definitely a God thing,” Kristina says.


She also says “You can’t let it define you.”


“Fly fishing is so healing.  It’s always been sort of therapeutic for me,” she says, “getting into the mountains.  Fly fishing forces you to be right there, focused.”


In the summer of 2015, Kristina began volunteering with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.  Kristina loves teaching and helping people, “it’s pretty much my personality,” and volunteering with PHWFF tapped right into that. 


She encourages women who want to start fly fishing, but just haven’t taken the step, to just do it.  “What’s the drawback?  It offers so much – the interaction, the social aspects, and there are so many options – rivers, small streams, and you get a break from reality.” 


“I want my clients to be open to the experience.  They should want to learn – not just be focused on getting fish. I encourage them to enjoy the experience.  Look up and take it all in.”


Changed for the better


“I love learning,” Kaitlin Boyer says.  And that spirit of life-long learning is one of the principles of the newest fly fishing guide to join Angler’s Covey. 


Kaitlin had been in nursing school when the fly fishing bug sunk its teeth.  “Friends would ask me to take them fly fishing, and I really began enjoying that more than my nursing school program.”  


She knows that guides can be sometimes be a bit intimidating, especially to the newcomer to the sport, and she wants her clients to see her as a “normal person passing on knowledge of this sport.” Kaitlin says that one of her goals as a guide will be to create comfortable and educational relationships with her clients. 


“There’s a lot to learn because fly fishing has so many aspects. I want them to not get discouraged, to be patient as they learn.  At the end of the day with me on the river, I want them to say ‘I want to do that again!’”


One of the things Kaitlin emphasizes, particularly to women anglers, is to become independent on the river.  “We need to learn the stuff we sometimes rely on men to do for us.  Set up our own rig.  Choose the flies. Tie our own knots.” But it doesn’t mean you’re in it alone. “Fish with other women! And trust yourself, have confidence as you learn.”


Kaitlin says it is really cool to be part of the increasing number of women anglers. “Fly fishing has changed me for the better.  Some sort of shift happened in me through fly fishing. I’m really blessed to be a part of this and maybe to be a positive role model for young women.”


You can follow Kaitlin on Instagram @pixiek8.


Want to schedule a guide trip with Kaitlin, Kristina, or Sharon?  Call the shop today at 719-471-2984.  


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