November 9, 2021
CEC Pittsburgh’s Christy Mower, a principal in our ecological practice, recently was invited by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) to attend a Women’s Steelhead Fly-Fishing Event in Erie, PA.
Fly-fishing is a stark difference from the traditional fishing technique. Fly-fishers present the bait, meant to look like a fly or other bug, on the top of the water for fish rather than beneath the surface. After hooking a fish, rather than reeling in the line, the angler leads the fish to shallow water, waits for it to get tired, and catches it with a net. Many consider fly-fishing an art form that takes great skill and patience to perfect. Steelhead trout are common in the Great Lakes as they migrate or “run” to the freshwater lakes from the ocean every winter to reproduce. According to the Erie Times-News, local bait shops call this year’s run the “best in years.”
The event was a two-part intro to PFBC’s Fly-Fishing Program. Part one of the event was a two-hour virtual class ran by PFBC staff. During the virtual class, instructors covered basic fly-fishing gear and how to use it, basic knots to know, two basic casts, intro to aquatic insects and the artificial flies that imitate the aquatic insects, reading the water and where to find fish, and how to hook, land, and safely release fish.
The second part of the program was held in person at Presque Isle State Park. This park is a peninsula of more than 3,000 acres located in Lake Erie. It attracts more than four million visitors each year, the most of any Pennsylvania state park. This part of the program allows participants to apply the skills they learned online earlier in the week. PFBC staff and local fishing skills instructors are in attendance to help them along the way. First, the instructors review putting the equipment together, tying knots, and casting. Then they work with participants while they try fly-fishing along one of the state park’s many breathtaking waterways. Along with a great group of friends, women also leave the free event with an informational booklet about fly-fishing.