According to data from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania’s male anglers decreased by more than 25,300 (according to fishing licenses issued) between 2010 and 2014. During the same period, the Commission issued more than 25,500 licenses to Pennsylvania women. Though women have always been a part of the fishing culture in the Delaware Valley, interest has been increasing in recent years. Organizations like the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association have been able to nurture that interest and get women out into our creeks and rivers with a pole in hand.
This article from the Philadelphia Inquirer quotes Mary Kuss, founder of the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association (DVWFFA) as describing fly fishing as “contemplative and relaxing, and the casting is very graceful,” she said. Kuss began DVWFFA in 1996 with nine other women. Last year alone 10 new members joined the group. Today the group teaches classes, goes on group trips, writes a quarterly newsletter, and organizes social events.
DVWFFA’s mission is four-fold. The group works to promote the sport of fly fishing among women; to provide a means for women fly fishers to meet, network and fly fish together; to create a friendly and supportive environment in which women new to the sport can learn and grow; and to give more experienced women anglers a rewarding opportunity to mentor novices. DVWFFA not only enables women to discover the joy of fishing, but by bringing outdoor recreation to a wider audience, DVWFFA plays a crucial role in maintaining our region’s natural resources. People who get out on a river and develop a connection to these amenities often become stewards of our waters and help maintain their health.
The Inquirer also quotes Tony Gehman, owner of the TCO Fly Shop, as saying that it is easier for women to learn fly fishing than men: “Men think they have to use more muscle, but that’s not what it takes.” Gehman also mentioned how linked the sport is to the environment: “You’re learning about the environment, nature, and different insects, and you have to represent that with the fly that you tie on and cast,” he said.
By combining environmental education, outdoor recreation, and river stewardship, fly fishing is a fantastic way for women – and everyone – to experience the water trails of the Delaware Valley.