Pasadena’s Merriman will let it fly

first_img“When you discover something you love, you never want to walk away from it,” she said of fly-fishing. “I just love the challenge of fly-fishing. I love the mental competition of going out every day.” Merriman, 70, is a pioneer in the sport. She was one of the first female fly-fishing instructors in the nation and began her business full-time in 1975. She spends her summers in Montana and Wyoming, where her house is less than five minutes from the northern gate of Yellowstone National Park. She spends her winters in Huntington Beach. Her teaching is as faithful as that famous geyser near her summer home. In the summer, she offers fly-fishing courses on the rivers of Montana and Wyoming, concentrating on Yellowstone. They’re mostly to visitors, but sometimes area residents. The first, and primary, focus is on correct casting, she said, but entomology and other aspects of fishing also are covered in the single- to four-day courses for beginners through advanced anglers. “The streams and rivers of Montana are world-class,” she said. “There are thousands of great spots in a 100-mile radius of there.” The weather in West Yellowstone, Mont., was as cold as 20 degrees below zero last week. So the Pasadena native and fly-fishing icon is back in Southern California, where she will return to her hometown for this weekend’s The Fly Fishing Show at the Pasadena Convention Center. It will be the first time the show has been held in Pasadena. It previously was at the Ontario Convention Center. Maggie Merriman will be working indoors this weekend. But then, this is winter and Merriman is as consistent as Old Faithful. center_img But her winters are not spent just having `R and R’ in Southern California. She has on-going private casting lessons. This weekend at the show, she will be teach reading trout streams on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. and a women-only casting seminar on Sunday at 2 p.m. She has a March 24 class at the Long Beach Casting Club’s pond, March 18 and April 1 classes at Bob Marriott’s Flyfishing Shop in Fullerton and then on April 7 for the Deep Creek Flyfishers in Riverside. “Living \, it’s the best of both worlds,” she said. “I love being around water, so I guess that’s why I live in Huntington Beach. I’m always at the beach. I’m here when it’s cold there and I’m in Montana when it’s hot here.” As good as fly-fishing can be along the forks of the San Gabriel River, Merriman grew up never fishing the local waters. Her father and mother would fly-fish in Oregon until the family discovered the famed Madison in Montana while vacationing at the 9 Quarter Circle Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Mont. when she was 13. The family’s vacations subsequently became yearly ventures to the Montana dude ranch. Merriman never wanted to leave, at least until it got cold. After working in the furniture business in the Bay area, she decided it was time to enter the fishing business in 1972, when someone at the ranch asked if she wanted to help out its fly-fishing school. Her career suddenly changed and she began to teach fly-fishing full-time in 1975. It was hard at first, she said, because few women at the time were involved with teaching the sport. “Things have turned 180 degrees now,” she said. “The people in the industry are good people. In 1954, when I was at Pasadena High School, there were no women fishing. My mom fished and she was a rarity. In my grandmother’s time, no woman fished.” She has received a plethora of honors: a lifetime achievement award from the International Festival of Women Fly Fishers, the Woman of the Year Award in 1995 from the Fly Fishing Federation and a Legend of Fly-Fishing award in 2003. She was the first woman to teach fly-fishing at a San Francisco boat and fishing show, and now is considered one of the premier female fly anglers on the West Coast. She began teaching fly-fishing full-time in Yellowstone in 1978 and became the first woman hired as a fly-fishing consultant to a rod company in 1981. Merriman does no guiding, but she said there’s no place she’d rather be than on the water. “It’s like Thoreau being out there,” she said. “There’s no other way I can describe it. You get in that state where there’s not a care in the world. There’s no other place I’d rather be.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2272 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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