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Women Throwing Bugs in Redding

By | 07/08/2013

Michelle Titus with Fall River TroutWomen gather in the Shasta Cascade region of northeast California each summer to learn how to throw bugs. They're participants in fly fishing programs run just for women at Antelope Creek Ranch on the northeast side of Mt. Shasta near Tennant and Clearwater Lodge at the Pit River in Fall River Mills. 

Michael Caranci of The Fly Shop in Redding, which operates Antelope Creek Ranch says, We've held a three-day fly fishing school for women for well over a decade now. Its loads of fun, and without the pressure of having guys around. These classes are always full of laughter and enthusiasm. Michelle Titus, owner of Clearwater Lodge, says the main appeal of women's-only fly fishing classes is that women enjoy learning with other women. 

"There's no one reason they take up fly fishing," she says, "One woman waited until her 70th birthday, then gathered a group of her girlfriends together to celebrate by learning how to fly fish. Some women who take these classes already have some experience, yet want to learn more. Or, they may be going on a longer fly fishing trip and want to hone skills before they go."

Then, there are those who come with their families and arrange separate classes. Titus continues, We just ran classes for a wife and daughter, separate from the fellows, for no other reason than providing the best experience for all, what they'd enjoy most. 

Women seem to pick up the sport easier than men, claims Caranci, They're good at understanding the finesse necessary to make rod and line work together. Guys have a tendency to muscle things. Women also listen better and are better able to make their cast effortless and beautiful. He adds, Women use the same exact equipment as men and a lot use it better. It's the same for kids. Fly rods are designed to work with a given weight line. The women's courses include instruction on knots and tackle, casting, how to choose the right fly, reading water, wading sills and basic entomology. 

Women have had an active role in the sport for more than 50 years, says Titus. She was a lifelong angler leaving a career as a strategic business consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area to take charge of Clearwater Lodge. She says she and her 21-year-old daughter, Raquel Ferrari, have since caught the fly fishing bug. I love to get out on the water as much as I can. Raquel has become so taken by the sport that I can imagine her wanting to become a guide in the future. 

Other than her own experience, Titus hasn't noticed a huge shift toward women discovering the sport. Though Caranci says there's been a shift by women anglers toward more adventurous trips. "We're seeing more women joining trips to remote locations. Our trip to Kamchatka is out there on the angling edge with very rough facilities. It's a hard-corps destination. This summer, a half dozen or more ladies are signed up for those trips."

Closer to home, women who fly fish are not looking for a bare-bones fishing lodge. Titus says, What my long-time customers say was missing at Clearwater, before I took over, was a woman's touch. Its one of the few women-owned fly fishing facilities anywhere. And, its run by a mother-daughter team. 

Comfortably appointed guest rooms, private baths and food prepared by an accomplished chef are expectations of guests who stay at these private fly fishing lodges. Caranci says "the days fish stories are often told over a glass of wine and a dinner of roasted quail, potatoes and fresh local vegetables at Antelope Creek." 

The Fly Shop operates 11 additional lodges on private waters in the Shasta Cascade, as well as guided trips on the Lower Sacramento River, McCloud River, Hat Creek, Fall River and Pit River. A new association with Anselmo Vineyards provides accommodations on the winery's ranch with wine tasting, fishing access on a private creek, and spa packages.  Clearwater Lodge guides work the same waters and also Burney Creek. 

Antelope Creeks 3-day Women's Fly Fishing School occurs Aug. 22 25 and is priced $1,065 double occupancy ($1,495 single occupancy) including accommodations, all meals and instruction. Clearwater Creeks 4-night Mastering the Art of Fly Fishing for Women is available to any group of from 3 to 12 women with one instructor for every four students at $1,545 per person. including accommodations, all meals, equipment rental and instruction. 

For more information on fly fishing in the Shasta Cascade, visit,, or

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