Got home Sunday afternoon from our annual Becoming an Outdoors-Woman weekend. What a great weekend it was!!!!! The weather was the best ever this year, but it was so much more than that. . . .
For the first time this year, the workshop was held at Ponca State Park. If you have never been to Ponca, you should be required to go. It is a beautiful park in a beautiful location. Here was sunrise over the foggy Missouri River valley on the last morning:
The park worked great as a location for the workshop, it had everything we needed to do a variety of classes, give the participants a wide variety of outdoor experiences.
Again this year I taught a “Basic Fishing” class on Saturday morning. That class is mostly done in the classroom. Why not just take the ladies fishing? Well, I tell them that I want to teach them a fundamental approach that can be applied to any fishing they might do, anywhere. Sure, we could just walk to the pond and fish, and I could teach some basic knot-tying, casting, and how to fish that small pond. But, when they leave to go home after the workshop, they might fish a variety of different waters throughout the state and beyond. What they learned fishing a small pond in Ponca State Park would not be very applicable to Lake McConaughy or Ninemile Creek. So, my “Basic Fishing” course is mostly a “boring” session in the classroom to introduce them to a mental approach to fishing that can be applied to any fishing they might do anywhere for any species of fish.
Diana Kincaid is one of my co-instructors and she teaches courses on fly-tying and fly-fishing. Saturday afternoon she took her fly-fishing class to the pond to practice casting and dry off a few. I slipped out for a bit to help take fish off of hooks, and assist in any way I could.
Finally, on Sunday morning we have a class where it is entirely hands-on fishing! We go to the water and fish, and on that last morning I tell the ladies they are on their own; they have to rig up their own rods, tie on their own baits, bait their own hooks, cast, catch fish, take ’em off the hook. . . “the whole nine yards”. Diana and I are there to offer advice, answer questions, teach and assist, but our goal is to send every one that attends that last class home able to do it all themselves!
Now, I have to tell you that the pond right next to the Ponca State Park Visitor’s Center was full of put & take Rainbow Trout who were more than willing to bite! As soon as I pulled into the park Thursday afternoon I knew it was on, “On like Donkey Kong”–there were Trout rising all over the pond. As a fishing instructor I believe it is my duty to check out the fishing before I take my class there, I know, it is a dirty job, but someone has to do it. In about 20 minutes of fishing Friday morning, I lost track of the number of Trout I caught and released.
So, I knew when we took 20+ ladies to the pond to fish the last morning, that I was going to be very busy helping rig lines, select baits, and then help land fish, remove hooks, etc. I was and it was GREAT! I had one student who wanted to master casting a bait-casting, level-wind, reel and she spent the whole class period doing that. By the way, she did very well and was casting like a pro by the end of class. That student really did not care if she caught fish or not, but every other student caught fish, at least small bluegills, and I believe everyone caught at least one Rainbow Trout.
We had a blast! After awhile the ladies figure out that they can holler my name and I will come as fast as possible while wearing waders to help them unhook fish or assist them with a snag or whatever else they might need. I do not know, but I suspect it becomes a game to see how much running they can make me do, and they all laugh at how much I enjoy having a bunch of women shouting my name.
Each year, by the time that last class is over at noon Sunday, I am always ready to slow down, take a sit, catch my breath. I know every instructor puts a lot of preparation and work into the Outdoors-Woman weekend, but I know it is well worth it! I know I have a great time, love doing it, and I hope the students do too. Hopefully they learn something in the process.
I have to tell a couple of stories from this year’s workshop. . . .
I mentioned that I slipped out to assist Diana with some of her fly-fishing class while they were on the pond Saturday afternoon. As instructors we generally do NOT do any fishing ourselves during one of our classes, but during Diana’s fly-fishing class the students started chanting for her to take one of the fly-rods and show them a cast. Reluctantly, Diana did, laid out a beautiful fly cast and then wouldn’t you know it? A Trout took the fly. Diana was embarrassed to catch a fish instead of one of her students, and some of us might have razzed her a bit about that.
Another thing I learned this year is that we had a few gals there that had attended BO-W workshops in other states, and we had ladies from out-of-state that had traveled just to attend our workshop. In fact I discovered that some of the ladies get so “hooked” on BO-W, that they intentionally travel around to attend workshops in other states. How cool is that? At supper one night, some of the ladies were talking about the BO-W workshop that Alaska hosts and how they would like to attend that one! Wonder if they could use another fishing instructor up there?
There are a lot of door-prizes and “trinkets” donated to the workshop each year, and instructors are eligible for a couple of those. My fellow fishing instructor, fly-fishing and fly-tying instructor, won a pretty Mule Deer print and then they drew the ticket for the other instructor door prize. The first name drawn was not present, so they drew another ticket. My name was on it, so I won a Scheel’s gift card (Thank you, Scheel’s!). The two instructor door prizes were won by the two fishing instructors! We have a lot of fun with the door prize drawings, whooping and hollering and carrying on. Diana and I gave each other big high-fives, and hollered “Fish Rule”!
Let me finish with this video that Ralph Wall put together (Thanks, Ralph!). It will give you an idea of the wide variety of outdoor experiences that were offered during our Becoming an Outdoors-Woman weekend this year.
If you are interested in future workshops, the main workshop is held each fall, so you will have to plan ahead for next year. However, there are individual classes offered throughout the year. You can learn all about that here, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. And be sure to check out the FaceBook page, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, Nebraska.