FREEPORT — Evelyn King just wanted to be a fisherman and member of Trout Unlimited, the 56-year-old conservation group devoted to protecting wild trout populations. Then the Sebago chapter asked her to sit on its board of directors.

A fly fisherman for most of her life, King spends as much free time casting for wild trout and salmon as she can with her husband, Bruce. But it’s never enough.

She decided in January it was time to give back, so she joined the TU board and did the next obvious thing: She created a women’s fly-fishing group that has grown to 70 members.

Now, the expert fly tyer from Cundy’s Harbor is working on getting her casting certification from the International Federation of Fly Fishers to help the Maine TU Women Fly Fishers. She sat down before a fly-fishing equipment class at L.L. Bean for the Fly Fishers to share the story of how this women’s group started.

How long have you been fly-fishing?

I’ve been fishing with my husband for 35 years. I started when we were dating. We’ve always fished together, but in the early days it was intimidating. I only wanted to fish with him if there weren’t other people around. He kept telling me to just relax. Now, that’s what I’m trying to do with other women. Adults tend to be fearful of trying new things in front of other people. But when you are just learning it is intimidating.


So both you and your husband are avid fly fishermen?

We’ve always fished. I got into fly tying, and then when our children were in their early teens we got them fly tying. We took them to kids’ programs at L.L. Bean. Then we all went fishing.

Then I formed the Chicks That Tie, a group of four women who wanted to tie regularly. Then I decided to be a guide, so I went through the guide training about four years ago. You learn so much in that course. I took my guide’s license and helped at Casting For Recovery (the fly fishing program for breast cancer survivors). It’s like the whole process was getting me ready for this.

How did you come to be the founder of this new TU women’s group?

I was a member of Trout Unlimited for years. It turns out Trout Unlimited (national) is looking to get more women involved in fly fishing. There is an initiative focused on this. It makes sense. There are so many more single parents today who are raising kids and moms raising kids alone. And right now there is huge enthusiasm for fly-fishing among women. I’m not sure why. Maybe more people want to spend time outdoors.

Anyway, the Sebago Trout Unlimited chapter asked me to be on the board to help make it more welcoming to women.


One of the officers called and at first I said, ‘No, I work full time.’ He said, ‘Evelyn, you have to do this.’ I thought about it and realized, I really do. I have to give back. Since I started fly tying I’ve been helped by so many people, at L.L. Bean, at Eldridge Brothers Fly Shop, at TU. I feel I’ve taken. Now it’s my turn to give back.

How was the new women’s group received?

At the first meeting I was on the board, a woman who came (to the Sebago TU meeting) was so excited, she came over and told me she wanted to join TU but it mostly was a group of men. I’ve heard more and more women saying the same thing. Not long after that, TU made me the vice president, to put me in a position of leadership.

I created the women’s group right when I got on the board. I started it in April. Women needed a forum that felt like a community.

The first thing we did was a social night at (a) restaurant and I created a Facebook page. At first it was just about women who want to fly fish meeting other women. I shared some of my books on entomology, to introduce them to those concepts. In the early days when I started fishing, I didn’t know how to put together the puzzle. Then when I started fly tying I began to understand. Now when I go to a river, I take photos all the time of insects, to know the flies to tie.

We’ve also had a casting lesson on the lawn at Payson Park (in Portland). Today we are learning about fly-fishing equipment at L.L. Bean.


So you catch a lot of fish?

Yeah. I’m not crazy good but I am kind of obsessed. I spend enough time on the water, I darn well should catch fish. The spring and fall, Bruce and I are in Rangeley every weekend.

Where would you like to see the women’s group go?

I hope it takes off. I hope some of the other women run with it, splinter off and do things together. I hope it has legs and keeps growing.

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