Off the Clock: Hooked on a Feeling

Posted: August 2, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryann Doyle

Rita Rowand, enrollment and international programs coordinator in the Prince William Campus Registrar’s Office, recently took a summer vacation to Yellowstone River in Montana to relax, spend quality time with her family and take up a new hobby: fly fishing.

Rita Rowand fishing
A loan of fly-fishing equipment inspired Rita Rowand to learn the sport for her trip to Montana.

The fly fishing vest with all of its many pockets was the only thing Rowand knew about the sport.

The other thing she knew was that her experience learning about fly fishing might be useful to others. So she wrote about it for her local Warrenton newspaper, the Fauquier Times Democrat.

“Serendipity struck when my neighbor lent me his fly fishing equipment for my vacation to Montana. The problem was what to do with it, I had no clue! I couldn’t even assemble the fishing rod,” Rowand writes.

Luckily, she saw a sign propped in the window of her local drugstore that read, “Fly Fishing Lessons, Sign Up Here!” Without hesitation, Rowand left her name on the sign-up list with a note explaining her urgent need for lessons.

The next evening, the drugstore owner came to her rescue and taught her to tie the knots that would secure the fly to the “tippet,” or end of the line. Two days later, she found herself in the back of a local elementary school practicing the range of motion she learned to use for casting.

That weekend, standing along the banks of the Yellowstone River in Gardiner, Mont., fly-fishing did not come easy to her at first. Rowand listened, watched the current, observed the insects and figured out how to “match the hatch” — find a fly similar to the natural insects that the fish were feeding on.

“The wind was soft but complicated matters somewhat. The fly did not always land where I hoped for, but I let the current carry it downstream. Sometimes it went in the bushes and once it hooked onto my vest,” Rowand explains in her article.

Rita Rowand catches a fish
After immersing herself in the art of fly fishing, Rita Rowand lands a fish on her first outing.
Photos courtesy Rita Rowand

After 40 minutes of casting, Rowand felt a strange but forceful tug on the end of her line. She remembered the first adage of fishing: keep your tip up when you’ve hooked a fish and keep the tension on the line. She started to reel in the line, and a few moments later, there was a beautiful, brown trout about 11 inches long dangling from the rod in front of her.

“I couldn’t believe it. I had caught him! He struggled vigorously when I tried to take his picture while holding the line and rod,” she writes in her article.

For the rest of the week, Rowand fished every morning and every night. She learned to read the river and improved both her cast and the placement of the fly. One night she caught a perfect 14-inch rainbow trout.

Rowand concludes her article: “What a wonderful moment. The moon had risen and cast a dancing light on the pulsing river. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Write to at