All-women team takes third place at Utah Single-fly event

The first all-women team to compete in the event took third at the 2016 Utah Single Fly tournament.

By Heidi Lewis

As the newly appointed Women’s Initiative Council Chair of Utah what better way to get women involved than a friendly fishing competition? Not just any competition, but a fundraiser for Trout Unlimited. 

The Utah Single Fly, sponsored by the High Desert Anglers TU Chapter from Vernal, holds the annual event on the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The 2016 competition was held recently and was a success with 10 teams and the FIRST all female team ever!  We called ourselves the “Honey Hole Hookers”.

I put the word out to any angler who would like to join the team. There are four people to a team, two in each boat with a guide.  One boat floats the A section below Flaming Gorge and one floats the B section. Anglers pick ONE fly for the entire day – although  you can also purchase a mulligan, which allows you to keep fishing should the fly get lost.

The first all-women team to compete in the annual Utah single Fly Tournament took third place just 10 points out of the top spot.

We set up a GoFundMe account to pay for the entry fee, four mulligans and the option to “buy” our guides for the day. We were so grateful by the support and generosity of family and friends and people we had never met that wanted to see the first women's team succeed.  All the gals on the team had fished the Green numerous times and felt like we had a pretty good chance of kicking the guys’ butts out there.  We went in confident and most importantly just wanted to have fun and enjoy a beautiful day on the Green.

It started off as a beautiful day. Blue skies, some puffy clouds, and floatant on our dry flies. We were ready. Part of the game is for each angler to pick two fish each to measure for the day. Angers get one point per inch and then one point for each fish caught. The tricky part is deciding which fish to measure. The decision has to be made before each fish is released – once two are measured all the others only count as one point.The lengths and total number of fish is tallied for each angler and a team total is the result.

Big fish are the target when competing in the Utah Single Fly.

With no cell phone service on the river we had no idea how the other team members were doing.  Trying to stay focused and NOT lose the fly was our goal. That and to have fun.

Before lunch, both boats had fish in the boat. No huge counts, and fishing was slow, but we had fish. Then, the storm came. Hail, wind, rain and clouds. Our guides covered water for us to fish like I’ve never seen before.  We did all we could.

We all missed some HUGE fish. You know, those sippers under the grass along the bank looking for a big terrestrial to gulp.  Yeah, those huge fish. 

My teammate missed a big fish and I cast where I thought the big brown was. Our guide said I overshot the fish. So I picked it up to cast again and that is when the fish hit. It had chased my fly downstream. That miss hurt, but we had to carry on. It is fishing not catching, right?

Later, my boat partner, Kerry Sundahl, snapped off her fly on a fish. We spent some time trying to see if it was on the water. We eventually say it floating down the bank where it snapped off. Our guide, Darren Bowcutt, rowed to the bank as quickly as possible and Kerry netted the fly and tied it back on.  She ended up winning the Bird Dog Award for the best fly retrieval story. It was well deserved.

Kerry Sundahl earned the "Bird Dog Award" after she and guide Darren Bowcutt chased down a wayward fly".

Our teammates on the A section ended up using their mulligans, but survived the storm and brought 12 fish to the boat. Alyssa Forrest caught the biggest fish among us and scored 5 bonus points for brining in a fish longer than 20 inches.

Kerry and I never used our mulligans (barely) and had 13 fish. Our largest fish measured just under 20 inches. Another half inch and we would have five more bonus points.

Heidi Lewis with one of the "counter" fish at the Utah Single Fly tournament.

Our team consisted of Kerry Sundahl, Lani Murakami, Alyssa Forrest, and me. Thanks in a huge fashion to our guides, Darren Bowcutt and Eli Koles of Western Rivers, we were stoked to take third place, just 10 points from first.

Next year we will start the fundraising earlier to get more womens teams involved in the Utah Single Fly.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all the teams for supporting Trout Unlimited. Organizers say more than $18,000 was raised on the tournament. The money will be used for improvements on fisheries within the Green River drainage, with an emphasis on the Calder Reservoir windmill project.

Heidi Lewis is the Women’s Initiative representative on the Utah Council of Trout Unlimited. She can be reached by email at


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