Postfly: Who is Jenny Tatelman? Can you tell us a little bit about your new project, FlyandFlow?
Jenny: I grew up with a familiarity of fly fishing for striped bass from my father, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I first picked up a fly rod. Fly fishing has since become a lifelong passion. I’ve traveled all over the world in search of the journey, self-reflection, and “the one.” I recently founded a women’s fly fishing company in the Fall of 2018 called FlyandFlow with the mission of creating further opportunity for women in the fly fishing industry and bringing together all levels of female anglers on the water. FlyandFlow designs female-focused fly fishing trips all over the world, from here in Massachusetts to beautiful Belize. I believe the journey is just as important as the fish we find.
This past weekend eleven women joined me for a weekend of fly fishing with the guidance of Harrison Anglers. I first fly fished with Harrison Anglers back in 2011 when I was just getting into freshwater fishing. They have since become dear friends and mentors of mine in the industry. When I put together this trip I knew the ladies would be in great hands with this group of knowledgeable and patient guides. Seven out of the eleven women were completely new to fly fishing and had never picked up a fly rod before the weekend. All of these women were strangers with one goal in mind, get outdoors and learn how to fly fish. The weekend almost immediately felt like old friends catching up because of this shared interest. Each lady brought such a different and significant personality to the group. I could not have imagined a more fitting group of women to kick start the very first FlyandFlow trip.
Postfly: Tell us a little bit about what it was like leading your inaugural FlyandFlow adventure
Jenny: Leading the trip felt so natural. This journey with FlyandFlow really started with the desire to share my passion of fly fishing with others, specifically women. Once the weekend started I was doing just that on and off the water. It felt right.
Because of conditions on the Deerfield that Friday, Harrison Anglers made the decision to start with fishing the Swift River instead. Saturday morning on The Swift started slow. When I say slow I mean no one in the group had caught a fish before lunch and I could sense people’s frustration and determination. As a leader, I felt the weight of the group on my shoulders. I remained positive and engaged with each lady. This moment taught me something about myself and reiterated what I’ve always known about fly fishing. This was part of the journey…this was fly fishing. It’s not always lights out fishing which makes everything that much more rewarding when it all comes together. After a quick bite alongside of the river as a group, the sun came out and water temps started to warm up. This immediately changed the momentum of the day. Both the ladies and the fish were hungry.
When I saw Blaire catch her first rainbow in the afternoon my heart nearly exploded. I felt so proud and overwhelmed with pure joy. At that moment I realized FlyandFlow had done its job in many different ways. It had created female empowerment and connection. It provided a platform to learn the basics of fly fishing without judgment or expectations. It demonstrated the patience behind fly fishing and the journey itself, and then, of course, the icing on the cake–landing a beautiful bow. I saw each of these women come such a long way from where we started that morning learning about proper drifts, mends, and roll casts. Each lady came off the water that day beaming. Everyone was so connected after a rollercoaster of a day starting out slow and ending with a bang. We all brought this positivity with us to dinner that night and into the next day.
That brings me to Sunday where the weather forecast was high 30s and sideways rain. The women were all given the chance to bow out of this freezing cold day. Instead, each of them wanted to give it a go. I couldn’t believe I had found ten women just as crazy as me willing to fish in any condition. While it was absolutely freezing and low visibility, these gals slayed. Kelsey caught a 20-inch brown and while she couldn’t feel her fingers, she said it was one of the best days of her life. These women were warriors. I’ve always believed that women are key to the future of the fly fishing industry and that Sunday validated this for me.
Postfly: Why should someone check out the Deerfield?
Jenny: The Deerfield River is a beautiful body of water that actually starts in Vermont, runs through Massachusetts Shelburne Falls area, and eventually into the Connecticut River. Fishing The Deerfield feels like fishing out West with fast-moving water, runs, and pockets. It holds a tremendous amount of sizeable browns, rainbows, and the occasional brookie. Average trout is around 12 inches with many shots at 20-inch-plus fish. While wading is possible, the best way to fish The Deerfield is from a drift boat. There’s so much great water to cover. One of the best things about The Deerfield is that you can fish it year round. Some of my best days have been when I can’t’ feel my toes and the Browns are hungry.
Postfly: Any tips for new anglers floating a trout river for the first time?
Jenny: Floating a trout river for the first time is a great way to learn quickly. It’s an opportunity to cover a much greater body of water and a faster way to learn how to read different sections of the river where the fish tend to hold. While drifting, I’m constantly looking for where the fast water meets the slower water. Fish generally want to use as little effort as possible while still finding a constant source of food. You can become the best at casting and landing fish but being able to read a trout river is absolutely key for success. Take the time to soak in as much as you can while covering water from a drift boat as it is transferable to wading. Another advantage to fishing from a drift boat is more room for your back cast which means less tangled lines. The ability to water load from behind can be tremendously helpful for someone who is new to fly fishing and still working on the timing of their cast. Drift boats usually mean a fishing buddy too which all part of the fun!