From our countries’ lakes and rivers to thousands of miles of ocean coastline, there are plenty of opportunities for the recreational and avid fisher alike to cast a rod, net, or even hand into water and interact with a variety of aquatic species. The best part? Most recreational fishing is available within a stone’s throw of our own backyards.
It’s precisely why — in conjunction with our friends at Men’s Journal — our new video series, “America’s Backyard,” showcases some of the country’s finest opportunities to escape into nature and try your hand at something new and unique.
A total reset
Asheville Fly Fishing Co. guide Lydia Dann has been a natural in the water since she was a toddler at her family’s fishing camp and now the Buffalo, New York native is teaching three of her friends how to master the sport of fly fishing in the pristine North Carolina waters in their backyard.
Lydia’s friend group and students for the day were from varied backgrounds when it came to fishing. Madelyn Silcox, owner of Down Dog, a yoga studio and off-leash dog-friendly bar in downtown Asheville, had dabbled in the sport with her fiancé Matt, a fellow fly fishing guide. Miranda Ryan, an artist and photographer, considered herself a beginner as she’d only been fishing once, while Heidi Wheildon, the rookie of the group, said she was a “total fish out of water.”
Despite their lack of experience, the ladies were ready for a fun-filled fishing trip, with teachable moments along the way.
No Wifi? No problem
While cell reception was limited during their time on the river, the lack of social media and text messages didn’t bother the group.
“When you’re out here, you’re not thinking about anything, but being out here,” Lydia explained. “Fly fishing is a very involved sport. You’re constantly thinking about the environment, what’s going on, what’s going on under water, what the fish could be eating, and just taking in all the surroundings. Every time I leave the water and I’m on my way home, I’m not thinking about anything and I’ll realize it’s a real reset.”
Unplugging is a Blessing
For Madelyn, unplugging was a total blessing.
“I just feel so much better with less time on my phone. I definitely get into a scrolling mode and I feel like my brain kind of checks out and you just get into that spiral,” she reflected. “But being outside and not having service, not even having that ability to check my phone, [it] feels really good.”
Heidi also felt the benefits of disconnecting: “I think especially since Covid [happened] and people are working from home more, you just find yourself scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. So, it’s an addiction that I’m ready to switch off from today.”
After the ladies got the basics down, Madelyn reeled in her very first rainbow trout.
“It inspired me. I feel like maybe I could survive out in the wild,” she said, laughing.
For others looking to learn more about fly fishing, Miranda advised: “For women curious about fly fishing, I personally would remove the word sport from the equation because it didn’t really feel like a sport being out there. It just felt like an activity, like yoga. It was very meditative. It was a very connected-to-nature experience. So, definitely don’t think it’s just a man’s sport.”
From River to Table – Incredible Meal
Rounding out the day, local chef Nichols Barr met the group back at their lodge to teach them how to filet a trout.
“River-to-table cooking to me means going out and catching a fish and cleaning it and putting it on your plate, using that fresh resource to make yourself an incredible meal, the Buxton Hall Barbecue kitchen manager and chef explained. “Once we filet the fish, we’re gonna do a pan-seared trout skin, and then finish it with Italian or breadcrumbs and bake off in the oven.”
For more with the group, watch the video above and for more info on fly fishing in the region, visit Asheville Fly Fishing Co.