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Elsa Espino is a Freelance Photographer and Fly Fisherwoman living in New York City. She recently photographed the Casting for Recovery Long Island retreat. Here’s what she captured.

Graduation (Photo by Elsa Espino)

I’ve been to my fair share of fly fishing events, whether expos or gatherings, but this retreat was by far the most impactful fly fishing event ever!

The day was sunny, which made the drive from the Bronx into Long Island, a stunning one. Upon arriving at the Hampton Inn on the morning of the retreat, Christian and I encountered many smiling faces and people saying good morning as they caught their early morning continental breakfast. After rendezvousing with our CfR team (Anya, Lise, Tiffany, Christian, and myself), we made our way to the Connetquot River State Park.

Upon arriving at the park, we were welcomed by a local Long Islander who was very passionate about her role at the park and enforcing park regulations. As we scouted the area before the women’s arrival, we were astonished by the amount of large, healthy trout in the water. There were rainbows, browns, and brooks! It was crazy! 

As the retreat began, Christian and I met the Salty Fly Rodders; they were the guides who were leading these women on the water. These seasoned group of traditional fly fishing men nurtured an agile learning environment while also providing insight about the water.  

Making my way through the river, I had the opportunity to see firsthand what the retreat experience was all about. It was about giving these women a chance to step away from their day-to-day lives, create a safe space for vulnerability, and to help them acknowledge their strength as a human. As I watched multiple women fish, I was impressed with their passion and perseverance. These women didn’t need anyone holding their hands or casting for them. These women were independent! 

Claudia (Photo by Elsa Espino)

I had the opportunity to chat with two of the attendees. The first was Claudia. She was kind and filled with love. When she caught her first trout, she held that fish like a baby and made sure to handle with care. She also went on to tell me all the beautiful things she’s doing within the breast cancer community and how she’s running her organization. The second woman I talked to was Leslie. Her energy, positivity, and determination impacted me. She was so happy to be there and thankful to have caught a fish. 

Being an active observer at this event made me realize the importance of women in the fly fishing culture and how the lack of has impacted the number of women we currently see in the fly fishing community. Not just that, we need more female guides! Maybe next time, I’ll see an all women’s guide service at the retreat. 

Thank you Casting for Recovery for allowing me to be a part of these women’s journeys and letting me capture their joy! If you are not a part of CfR, you need to join! A day with CfR enlightened my spirit and made me remember that there are good people in this world. If you’ve never been to the Connetquot River State Park and you fly fish, you need to add this spot to the top of your list. Big fish and lots of solitude.

-Elsa

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