Spring has sprung and for a lot of New Mexicans that means heading outdoors, and for some of those, it means fly fishing.
San Diego native Trish Valdez is a special education teacher in Albuquerque, who has been passionate about fly fishing for more than 15 years.
Valdez was featured in a United Kingdom based, independent magazine called, Fly Culture, to highlight female perspectives on fly fishing.
Valdez has experience with traditional and saltwater fishing but prefers to dry fly fish because it only requires one fly Valdez said.
“I don’t think it’s harder, it grounds me, brings me closer to nature, helps me think about things. It’s an intellectual sport,” Valdez said.
Dry fly fishing is aimed towards trout and it is an angler technique that uses artificial flies that float on top of the water therefore not getting wet.
“I know with bait fishing it’s a lot more harsh. You’re tugging that fish out of the water, using multiple treble hooks which really tear up the fish,” Valdez said.
Fly fishing is a natural and cleaner approach to fishing because fly fishers have more respect to the environment and to the fish, Valdez said.
“I know that a lot of fly fishing people make sure that they pack in what they pack out,” Valdez said.
Valdez was inspired to pick up fly fishing with the help of her close friend and mentor, John Tischendorf.
“He wanted to introduce me more into the sport and how it all evolved, and to just learn about the entomology of it all,” Valdez said.
They would look at different flies and different equipment and gear she would need to go fly fishing Valdez said. She credits Tischendorf for her passion and continued focus on the sport Valdez said.
Despite being a male-dominated sport, Valdez does not let that discourage her from hitting the water.
“In fact that encouraged me more, the more people look at me like you don’t know what you’re doing, the more I want to say, I’ll show you I can,” Valdez said.
Valdez admits that in the beginning of her fly fishing journey she would be looked at differently because she was a woman in the sport Valdez said.
“When I do drive into a big venue, like the San Juan River, where it’s a world-class river and everybody goes there and you have to know what you’re doing there or go with a guide–I get looked at a little funny everytime I drive in there,” Valdez said.
Custom rod builder, Tom Sawyer of Los Pinos Fly and Tackle Shop in Albuquerque, says that the fishing industry has gradually learned to avoid gender stereotypes when it comes to their products, Sawyer said.
“They’re trying to get more female involvement, the thing is getting enough female input sometimes,” Sawyer said.
Valdez wants to be able to reach out and be accessible to women fly fishers in the community because anyone can fly fish Valdez said. It only requires someone who is patient and encouraging.
“I’m not a guide by any sense of nature, I just love to fish and I love to show people how to do it,” Valdez said. “I purposefully target my friends who are women, to take out with me, because of a lot of them think that it is a guy sport and I want to show them that, it’s an anybody’s sport and it should be 50/50 on the waters.”
Women have a philosophical approach to fly fishing because they see a purpose in it, women take their time and they are more patient about their style, Valdez said.
“It should be about grounding yourself, getting back to nature and having fun,” Valdez said.
Alyssa Bitsie is a reporter for the NM News Port and can be contacted on Twitter @Albitsie.