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Magic City Fly Fishers to host all-women panel highlighting accessibility in the sport

'Access is really important for anglers and fishermen all over the state.'
Posted at 7:04 PM, Feb 03, 2024

ROCKVALE — Kris Spanjian and Emma Berry are both lifelong fly fishers and volunteers with The Magic City Fly Fishers chapter of Trout Unlimited in Billings. The group will host a panel of all female fly fishers Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. in the Scheel's conference room.

“We don’t think women fly fishing is any different than men fly fishing. It's fly fishing … we don’t all wear pink, etcetera," said Spanjian, while fly fishing alongside Berry in Rock Creek in Rockvale.

Despite the overarching similarities that men and women share in the sport, Spanjian said there are some differences that the group wants to address.

“There have been a lot of changes, over my lifetime, in fly fishing that have benefited women, but there’s a long way to go … They don’t make all the equipment at the right size at times and things like that," said Spanjian.

Overall, however, their organization focuses on the message that fly fishing is for everyone.

“You really don’t need a lot of things; just a rod, and a reel, and a line, and a couple bugs," said Berry.

Accessibility is at the top of mind for all fly fishers, according to the two anglers.

“There’s an element … of people who have property and more money than the average person … (and) you will find people stretching barbed wire across the river to discourage (fishing) and a lot of that is illegal," said Spanjian.

Conflicts between public and private property rights is an issue fishers like Spanjian and Berry have been fighting across generations.

“The great outdoors is free … You don’t have to have money, and if you don’t have money, sometimes those are the people that will benefit more from a sport like this," said Spanjian.