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2023 SheJumps River Development School: Fly Fishing Event Recap

We’re excited to share the 2023 SheJumps River Development School recap—an online women's fly fishing course hosted by Gabaccia Moreno, Executive Director of The Outdoorist Oath and past SheJumps River Finishing School participant.

The River Development School is the next step in your fly fishing journey. During this one-night online course, participants gain the philosophy, education, and tools needed to become an independent, knowledgeable angler.

Topics covered during this one-night course include:

  • Building Your Process

  • Purpose & Planning

  • Waterway Identification + Management

This event is made possible by generous support from Orvis.

Learn more about SheJumps River School programs here.

A little bit more about our host - Gabaccia Moreno:

Gabaccia is a first-generation outdoor access advocate, strategic consultant, and multimedia storyteller; she also serves as Executive Director of The Outdoorist Oath.

Preparation for fly fishing

It takes time and energy. Don’t skip the fundamentals of casting and knot tying. You can learn on and off the river. There are rules and regulations for access to fishing, including obtaining licenses and seasonal closures.

Document wins, fails, and observations when you’re starting off to see how you learned or what worked and didn’t when you go to areas you frequent regularly or seasonally. Use a calendar to prepare for seasons to add reminders on when to start planning your season. Keep a personal checklist of what works for you to prepare in addition to a gear packing list.

Call or go to your local fly shop to get the most recent information. Use streamflow charts to know the water levels to see if they are fishable.

WATCH: 2021 River Development School | Purpose and Planning

Risk versus Adventure

Identifying goals

Ask yourself: Why do I want to go out today?

Communication is crucial if you’re going out as a team or group. Before you head to the river, set expectations and limitations.

Balancing risk with reward

Consider the variables of risk that can impact your day.

  • How am I feeling?

  • Did I eat?

  • How’s the weather, terrain, streamflow etc?

With risk comes consequences, including time and energy loss, injury, disappointment, lost gear, or endangering others.

Identify the reward, including return on investment and return of effort.

Skill progression

It’s important to do an ongoing skills audit. Reevaluate adventure and risk balance as skills evolve. Debrief as a team to learn from your group on if goals of the day were met. Compare salt versus fresh water and wading versus floating/boating. How does international travel change the dynamics of your normal fly fishing experiences?

WATCH: 2021 River Development School | Building Your Process

Waterway identification

The course briefly goes into waterway identification.

WATCH: 2021 River Development School | Waterway Identification + Management

Reading water

If done well, you will increase your chances of catching fish. Understand the basic vocabulary of upstream and downstream, eddy, run, inside and outside bends, river (left versus right), foam line, shelter, and holding ground. Learn more about these terms at 50:39.

Learn the difference between freestone and tailwater. Tailwaters are regulated by humans and freestone waters are regulated by the weather, like rain and snow melt.

Tools and resources

There are many tools and resources that you can access to improve your skills, including maps, USGS data (stream and river flows over time), phone apps, fly shops, and classes. Be cautious of audience gatekeeping when getting information from local shops or guides.

Accessing water

At 1 hour and 8 minutes into the presentation, Gabaccia shares how to access water. Accessing water varies based on your goals and what success looks like for you. Customize your approach and know your options between wading and floating. View the terrain and seasons. Where you go can depend on the season, fish species, and ecological conditions. Be aware of invasive species–this is not only for boats but your gear as well. Most waterways have public water access marked on maps. Various map apps show public and private land layers to help you know where you can and can’t access the water.

Find a SheJumps event near you.

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