Female Fly Fishers Have Their Day While The Flat River Flows Freely
With the approach of fall’s cooling waters and increased opportunities for trout fishing, the Rhode Island Chapter of Trout Unlimited is pleased to announce an Introductory Fly Fishing Clinic for Women. This important event will teach the finer details of casting and mending but for people new to the sport, it’s also a day to learn about wonderful sport in a comfortable environment. So this week, we celebrate female fly fishers and the Flat River.
According to thefishingwire.com’s Toby Lapinski, “Though many think of fly fishing as a sport for the older generation, 29% of fly anglers in 2020 were under the age of 25, and 47% were under 35. Most fly anglers were males, though females made up 30% of the fly fishing community in 2020, and that proportion is up 10% since 2010.” That 30% is significant as fly fishing can be traditionally viewed as a difficult sport to embrace for all it’s gear and particular moment skills, and it has also been seen as a predominately male sport.
This Women’s Introductory Fly Fishing Clinic is offered in conjunction with the South Kingstown Land Trust. If you haven’t spent some time on their property in Matunuck, Rhode Island, it is spectacular. Sheila Hassan of Cast90 will be the instructor. In addition to being a Fly Fishers International Master Casting Instructor, of which there are less than 250 in the world, she is the author of “Fly Casting: A Systematic Approach” and “Starting in the Salt: Saltwater FlyCasting,” Ms. Hassan teaches at the renowned Wulff School of Fly Fishing as their Chief Instructor and Program Director while representing some of the finest fly fishing gear available: TFO and RL Winston rods and Hatch reels. And with all that, she also holds an IGFA Women’s Fly-Rod World Record for bonefish and bluefish.
This rain or shine class includes all the gear you will need, supplied by the Rhode Island Chapter of Trout Unlimited. to cover an overview of rods, reels and lines, basic knots and terminology, how to make roll casts (and when to use one) back casts, false casts and shooting line. All this happens at the SK Land Trust Barn, 17 Matunuck Beach Road, on Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm and costs just $25, which somehow also includes lunch. This is a limited size class so register at https://secure.etransfer.com/RICTU/WomensClinic.cfm or email Susan Estabrook at email@example.com and please put “women’s clinic” in subject line.
It’s been a year since members of RITU joined hands and forces to remove an unnecessary stone dam on the Flat River inside Arcadia Park. Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited rolled up his sleeves with the rest of us and helped move rocks and shovel muck. Upstream of the Flat was a warm, slow, bloated impoundment and all of that was detrimental to brook trout. In the year since, the river has cleared and cleaned itself, restored her natural banks and now flows in a classic, winding path.
Back in the day, settlers dammed hundreds of rivers in Rhode Island for agriculture, netting herring or diverting towards power water wheels. According to the 2022 Annual Report on activities of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) pertaining to dam safety, “There are six hundred seventy inventoried dams in Rhode Island, which are classified as High Hazard, Significant Hazard, or Low Hazard.” That’s a lot of dams in a small state. Countless small streams have Colonial-era rocks walls dry stacked or cemented, to keep water in and sadly, fish out. Exposed to warm, oxygen-poor water and with no option for down or upstream seasonal migrations, trout simply cannot survive.
Trout Unlimited has worked diligently for years to identify dams needing removal, which is no small task. Landowners may be hesitant to acknowledge any liability or in some cases, there is little remaining evidence of who owns a dam. So it was with great effort and coordination that Chapter President Glenn Place assembled the right people to approve the removal.
Last week, I revisited the Flat River. While we saw almost instant positive changes the day we removed the wall, a year has allowed the river to flow naturally and make her own adjustments. Her banks were heavily vegetated, water was flowing and the beavers, well they found a new opportunity and went to work. There was a moment of, “Damnit!” when I saw how industrious they were but that’s nature and that’s what generations often forgot when they trapped and caught and impounded whatever they needed. The trout? They will circumvent the birch and alder when they need to and whatever still water gets created will support flora and fauna. When the ice comes, that woody mess may be hardened up then cleared with a Spring freshet and the whole lovely process will begin again. It’s looks to have been a fine year for the Flat River.