Ruth Sims has fishing in her blood. Before her, her dad, her uncles, and her grandfather were all commercial fishermen. So three years ago when Ruth took up a fly rod, she was immediately obsessed with it. Though she is entirely self-taught, she heads out to the rivers almost every weekend, exploring new waters and learning all about the various species that inhabit them.
“I don’t know what about it is so exciting,” Ruth says, “but I saw it and I wanted to learn.”
Ruth was born and raised in Seattle, which just so happens to be a steelhead mecca for fly fishing, drawing people from all around the world. But she had no idea this was right in her backyard.
“People are super secretive of their spots, so you research and use Google Earth and have to find it yourself,” Ruth declares enthusiastically. As she was learning, she would walk miles of river bank, slowly her perspective of the rivers of her began to change.
For Ruth one of the unique things about Washington is how the fish change throughout the year. “The river is constantly changing, with different breeds for different times of the year,” she explains. Each species is different, where they sit in the water, how do they like the fly presented.
“It makes you obsess about every detail, the research, the ecosystems,” says Ruth with a laugh as she explains how fascinating it is that a fish will travel as far as Japan and then come back to the exact same river it was born in. Ruth is also captivated by the unique mentality of fly fishing, the respect, for the land and the water and the fish.
As Ruth began to expand her fishing horizons she looked across the world from Iceland to British Columbia, to Hawaii.
“There are so many different places to fish, so many different factors, to trick a fish into thinking the fly is food,” says Ruth on how she set her sights on Florida for her first salt water trip. So for her birthday, Ruth and a friend headed to Isla Morada to hunt some of the elusive Tarpon. Tarpon are a massive 200-300 pound prehistoric looking beast that is smart and spook easy, not an easy fish to land.
After practicing her distance casting in a park near her home in Washington, Ruth was ready. The guide stands on a platform above the flat bottom boat they were on. He would spot them and Ruth would have to cast 70 feet out, 10 feet ahead of the fish, and then strip the inch long fly, to mimic smaller fish the Tarpon eat.
“Your concentration has to be 100%,” Ruth explains. “In Washington, they like their homes, they stay, but salt water fish move constantly, and you have just a moment to cast perfectly.”
The girls only saw a handful of tarpon, so turned their attention to the other fish, landing some snapper and even a puffer fish. The next day they headed deep into the Amazonian looking Everglades in search of more species.
By the end of the trip, Ruth was casting for 10-11 hours straight. She caught Baracuda, Ladyfish, Jacks. “It was all species we had never caught before, even a shark,” says Ruth with an almost giddy excitement, “We caught everything else but Tarpon, but that’s how it goes.”
“The trip was really all about fishing with my friend,” Ruth says, “When fishing with guys feels more competitive, but with girls, they are cheering each other on.
Written By: Jordan Curet