WINDHAM — Eve Abreu and Laura Moorehead had never worn fishing waders before, had never felt the tug of a fish, and had never enticed a moving shadow in a river with a floating fly.

But a good three hours after fishing for the first time on a warm Saturday afternoon, Abreu and Moorehead were all in. They shared that sentiment with 12 other women at the first fishing outing organized by the Maine Trout Unlimited Women Flyfishers.

“I think we like this. It’s nice being on the river,” said Moorehead, of South Portland.

“Now I’ll hope at Christmas I get waders,” said her partner, Abreu, with a smile.

The first group fly fishing lesson offered by the Sebago Trout Unlimited chapter’s new women’s group was part of an initiative launched this winter by the organization to recruit more women and youth.

That’s following the vision of Trout Unlimited’s national organization, based in Arlington, Virginia. The national group, which has 155,000 members in 380 chapters across the country, announced in the past year that the demographics of its membership needed to change if the organization was to survive into the future.


“We’ve made this a big priority for the next five years,” said Beverly Smith, Trout Unlimited’s vice president of volunteer operations.

“We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do, and the other reason is self-serving: we want to stay relevant. We won’t accomplish our conservation missions if we don’t (diversify). The demographics of the nation are changing. Our female membership is low, around 10 percent. We realize we are missing the boat.”

Officers in the 600-member Sebago chapter have set their sights higher than the national organization. They want women and children to make up the majority of their membership.

“The goal is 1,000 new women and children members in the next four years and three months. We set that goal at the start of this year,” said TU member Matt Streeter, one of the volunteers at the women’s fishing day.

Part of the Sebago chapter’s effort began this winter when member Evelyn King of Harpswell was asked to serve on the board of directors. King was elected vice president. She wasted no time in the post, focusing first on recruiting women members before working on youth membership.

She started the Maine TU Women’s Flyfishers, launched a Facebook page for the group with three women fishing friends, and started planning events. Fly fishing casting lessons were offered, as well as a gear seminar, and a day of fishing in September on Portland-area rivers drew 14 of the group’s 75 members.


Only four fish were caught and released, but most women said they would take another class.

“What I want to see is children (in the Sebago chapter) who one day say their mom taught them to fly fish,” King said.

But not all were novices. A fly fisherman of 35 years, Lucy LaCasse of Scarborough said the outing helped her technique.

“My husband and I often fish together. One of us will go up stream and the other will go downstream. We fish quite a bit,” LaCasse said. “But this group has affirmed the things I knew, and I’ve learned new things. There were instructors at the fishing day who gave me great tips.”

LaCasse, 56, said while she has done a roll cast for years, the women’s fishing class helped her perfect the cast. She also felt great camaraderie with the other women.

“It’s nice (that) it’s not exclusive. It welcomes people of all skills,” LaCasse said. “I think fly fishing is about walking in the water, whether you touch a fish or not. It’s just about being out there. Women work well together. It’s got a different flavor. It’s fun.”


Sisters Sarah Thompson and Becca Furey joined because of their mother, Wendy Furey, a TU member. They said her passion for the sport inspired them to learn an activity that combines science, athleticism, patience and art.

As she fished in the Presumpscot River, Thompson was mesmerized by the shadows she saw around her wading boots. Lifting her rod and moving the end of the line slowly in front of her, Thompson tried patiently to entice a smallmouth bass near her line. She had no luck, but didn’t care.

“It’s very hypnotic and relaxing,” Thompson said. “My success has been more rapid with the group … It’s fun being in a group eating a slice of pizza while learning the blood knot. And my casting has definitely improved. It’s tighter. I’m better getting my line to the fish.”


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