Fishing, though not exclusively for men, usually has been male-dominated throughout the years.
But fishing is becoming more appealing to women, according to Mikey Bard, who works at Grandfather Mountain and is an avid fisherwoman. Bard first went fishing when she was 3-years old, behind her grandfather’s house in Ashe County, and started fly fishing when she was 19-years old while a student at Appalachian State.
Bard said she noticed that when she started fly fishing, there were a handful women fishing, but it was mostly men who were on the banks of creeks where she fished. Bard said that has changed with more women taking to fly-fishing.
“When I started (fly fishing) I would see women, but in the last seven years when I’ve been fishing I’ve seen more women out on the water than any time before, when I might see two, where I might see 10 men. Now, I’ll see three or more women fishing.”
Bard said that as times have changed, she’s noticed that more women are teaching women how to fly fish. Bard, 26, said she learned how to fly fish from her best friend in college, who was a woman.
The two attended Appalachian State University.
“She grew up fly fishing,” Bard said. “She wanted to share that with me, so she taught me how to fish when were in college.”
Bard said she grew up fishing, but not as a serious fisherwoman. She used mostly bobbers and bait to lure fish to her line. She said she usually ate the fish that family members caught.
Fly fishing uses flies that are professionally designed to mimic what a fish may eat.
Once Bard tried fly fishing, she was hooked. She joined the fly-fishing club at App State.
“Fly-fishing is different from traditional spin-rod fishing or bait fishing in that it has a science to it,” Bard said. “When you fly fish, what you’re trying to do with your fly is you’re trying to imitate what the fish is actually looking to eat. You have to figure out what the fish are eating at different times of the year and use that knowledge. You can’t throw any old thing in and hope to get a trout. You have to use science to figure out what they are eating at different times of year.”
Whether the fish or biting can depend on a number of factors, including the weather. It can get warm in the High Country, although not necessarily as hot as it can be in the Charlotte or Raleigh areas and beyond. Still, the waters will warm up during the summer months from the winter months, where some waters can turn to ice and the fish are not nearly as active.
That could make a difference when it comes to catching fish, particularly trout, in the summer. Trout is not as accustomed to the warmer waters and may be more difficult to catch.
But trout is similar to people when it comes to beating the heat. They also look for shaded areas in the waters to swim, and try to avoid the open areas.
Bard also tries to be careful of how she fishes at different areas to protect the area, which helps protect the fish.
“That’s what I love,” Bard said. “I love getting to the nature and have that close of a relationship with the fish.”
Bard said when she speaks to other women about fishing, they often ask the basic question of, “What makes it so fun?” Bard said she and many women fish for the same reasons men do.
They like the camaraderie of being out at the river that fishing with friends can bring. They love being out in nature and of course, successfully catching the fish.
Bard said that when she goes fly fishing, that’s what she thinks about. She forgets the stress of daily life and concentrates on catching fish.
“Just getting out in nature and seeing these beautiful places and relieving stress,” Bard said. “A woman I actually work with, last year I was able to take her out and what drew her to was it was a good way for her to get out in nature. To be quiet and not have to talk to anyone and forget the troubles of day-to-day life.”
Bard said there are several places for people to fish in the tri-county areas. Bard said there are two places in Ashe County: Helton Creek close to Virginia and Big Horse Creek in Lansing. There is also a new park at Big Horse Creek that gives fishers access to good fishing holes. She said both spots are stocked with fish and are good places to catch trout.
Valle Crucis Park in Watauga County is a good place to fish, according to Bard.
“Dutch Creek is another good one,” Bard said. “Beech Creek is another one. I used to catch a ton of fish there when I was in college.”
She also suggested that Wildcat Lake is another good place for people to learn how to fly-fish, according to Bard.
It’s always a good idea to purchase a fishing license before taking to the rivers, streams and lakes with a fishing pole. A license can be purchased for $25 for state residents online at the North Carolina Wildlife Commission website at www.ncwildlife.org.
Licenses are also available at most fly-fishing shops and at Walmart.
Some convenience stores sell licenses, and general stores sell them.
The next thing on the list is the fly rod and a fly reel. Several different brands and styles are on the market, but all may not be what’s best for the novice fisherman.
The novice fisherman can use a less expensive brand until her skills improve enough to move up to a better fishing rod.
Bard said the fishing industry doesn’t necessarily sell fishing rods specifically for women. They do have waders that cater to the smaller women.
“I’m 5-foot-2 and I fit in a women’s small pair of waders,” Bard said. “My first pair of waders was a men’s small because I couldn’t find a pair of reasonably-priced women’s waders. It’s really changed significantly in the last 10 years. The industry is definitely catering more to women fishers, which is great.”
Get your gear
174 Old Shull’ Mill Road
Due South Outfitters
1082 E. King St. Suite 6
Boone, N.C. 28607
Elk Creek Outfitter
1560 N.C. Highway 105
Foscoe Fishing Co. & Outfitters
8857 N.C. Highway 105
Boone, N.C. 28607
4210 Memorial Ave. Suite 1
Linville, N.C. 28646
RiverGirl Fishing Co.
4041 Railroad Grade Road
Todd, N.C. 28684
Watauga River Fly Fishing
5712 N.C. Highway 105
Riverstone Fly Fishing
431 Old Hartley Road
Banner Elk, N.C.
Grandfather Trout Ponds
10767 North Carolina Highway 105
Banner Elk, N.C.
Wildlife Unlimited Hunting
1864 Old Highway 421 South