In honour of fly fishing season, I thought I’d dig around in hopes of discovering the place for an exclusive executive fishing getaway. There is luxury to be found in the remote woods, and there is great fly fishing in every province in Atlantic Canada. Some of it is only accessible by float plane or helicopter – and to those with the means to get there.
Looking through various fishing resort websites, I saw a lot of photos of fellas being manly men. Up to their thighs in water, faces shaded with devil-may-care stubble, looking rugged, satisfied, triumphant. And always, always, holding a really big fish.
Which is why I was so glad to speak to Marsha Pond.
Pond’s husband runs Pond’s Resort, a long-time fly-fishing haven/lodge on the banks of New Brunswick’s Miramichi River. Pond’s Resort offers “retreat meetings,” which have proven a popular way for businesses and staff to combine work and an afternoon’s fishing.
Marsha Pond is an avid angler and the head instructor at the “Broads with Rods” fishing school. “The kind of women who come here are not offended by that,” says Pond of the title. “They absolutely get it and they get the sense of humour.”
Broads with Rods is a weekend of expert instruction and time with the fish – as well as wine and cheese, fine cuisine and, of course, a few extras. (“Look, just because a woman has a rod in her hand doesn’t mean she doesn’t want a manicure,” says Pond. Manis and pedis happen in the evenings.)
This year, Pond is offering two sessions, one in June and one in August. It’s open to all women with an itch to fish, but the opportunity does attract a certain type. “This is the kind of woman who wants to try something different. Our average age is 38 to 45. These are women who… enjoy the outdoors, enjoy the peace, but also enjoy the challenge – and bragging rights.”
Not surprisingly, a high proportion of Broads with Rods are busy professionals. Some want to learn so they can fish with spouses or colleagues; some do it purely for themselves. Some return, year after year, for the good time.
Valerie Folk, a real estate broker and regional manager with Royal LePage in Halifax, signed up for Broads with Rods with members of her investment group. “It’s a great stress reliever and good fun,” she says of fly fishing. And while the accommodations are “definitely not roughing it,” the excursions are not for the faint of heart either. “There’s nothing sissy about it,” she says. “You’re up early, rain or shine, and in the water. You’re dealing with rapids, water and exercise all day.” Folk now has all her own gear and is looking to practice fly fishing near home in anticipation of her annual trip to the Miramichi.
Pond maintains that “the fastest growing group in the fly fishing business in North America is women.”
Maybe. Not far away, Country Haven Lodge in Grand Rapids, New Brunswick, is devoting the first two weeks of September to “Lady Anglers” interested in fly fishing wild Atlantic salmon. The sumptuous Miramichi Inn offers clinics specifically for women by a certified fly casting instructor.
With great fly fishing in every Atlantic province, there are many places to go for a flick. According to André Godin, who has been running the Miramichi Inn for 30 years, the future of this prestige sport is bright. “I never thought that we would encounter (salmon) returns again like we saw in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Godin says. “Well, for the last three or four years they’ve been getting better each year, in size and quantities. I really thought that the species would decline to a point where the angling for salmon would not be there for the next generation. Fortunately, there is hope now. It might be too early to rejoice, but it sure feels good to see.”
Hear that, ladies? Time to get ready to land the big one.