Texas Women Fly Fishers was organized in January 2001 with the determination to promote women fly fishers. Over the years, our tremendous officers and members have taken an idea for a women’s fly fishing group and nurtured it into a great club. Through exemplary dedication, tireless efforts in teaching and sharing the pleasures of fly fishing, and our commitment to outreach programs such as conservation and Casting for Recovery®, much has been accomplished: From a handful of women to our current membership of over 100 new to experienced-level fly fishers, we are enriched by our passion for fly fishing, camaraderie, and wonderful memories of great outings.
Following are accounts of our early days from several of our founding members.
Thank you ladies for your vision and your generosity. We would not be what we are today if it weren’t for your efforts, your faith, and your passion for the sport of fly fishing. We are grateful for all you have done for TWFF.
“I created a women’s fly fishing weekend at the Homer Martin Ranch…”
The following information was provided by Constance Whiston. “I created a women’s fly fishing weekend at the Homer Martin Ranch and e-mailed all the women I knew in Texas Outdoor Women’s Network, Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and other sources the dates/details of the weekend. I think about 20 women showed up and we fly fished for two days, and on the last day I asked if we could have a little business meeting. It was at that meeting that I presented the idea of having a women’s fly fishing club for the whole state of Texas. Each monthly meeting would move to a different location in the state so all women in Texas could fly fish and or learn to fly fish. Moving around the state also gave us the opportunity to fly fish saltwater, warm water, and cold water.”
“Cindy Alexander, Frances Hamm, and others offered to help get the club started and everyone there voted YES in favor of the club. That was not the first TWFF meeting, but that was how the club was founded and I believe it was in the spring. The first meeting was at a resort on the Guadalupe River sometime later, I think in the winter.”
“The summer of 1999, Constance Whiston called Sheila Hood and me and asked if we would like to go to Ray Carrington’s place on the Llano to learn more about fly fishing….”
From Coco Davenport
“Frances Hamm, Sheila Hood, and I are the only original members still in the club. The club was the brainchild of Constance Whiston. So here is what I remember. The summer of 1999, Constance Whiston called Sheila Hood and me and asked if we would like to go to Ray Carrington’s place on the Llano to learn more about fly fishing. We attended, along with about eight other women. At our outing, she offered her idea to form a Texas Women’s Fly Fishing group. Of course, we thought it would be a grand idea. So Constance called about 20-plus other ladies to join us for a fishing trip and organizational meeting at Homer Martin Ranch. We met at Homer Martin and talked about how, when, where, etc. Our goals were to foster fly fishing, especially for women, as well as fellowship. We decided to have six outings a year, each at a different river in Texas; thus exposing our group to the broader picture of what Texas rivers have to offer. As I recall, all of us at the original meeting called everyone we knew to tell them about a membership meeting in January 2000 on the Guadalupe River.”
“Our headquarters were Maricopa Resort. I don’t remember how many ladies signed up, but Frances Hamm may know; she was appointed Treasurer. Sheila Hood was appointed Second Vice President, I was appointed Historian, Constance was elected President, Cindy Alexander was appointed First Vice President, and I believe Lisa Bellar was appointed Secretary. We were asked to bring a suggestion ready for print to be voted on for our Texas Women Fly Fishers logo. Lisa Bellar won the best logo, which we adopted.”
“We formed a committee to draft the by-laws, discussed rivers we would like to visit the first year, decided on which months we would have the outings, and asked for volunteers to coordinate the outings, as well as focusing on what is our purpose. We also wanted to encourage the members to become members of the Fly Fishers International™.”
Original TWFF Officers in a photo taken at the Maricopa Lodge in 2001. Top row, left to right: Frances Hamm and Coco Davenport; bottom row, left to right: Cindy Alexander, Constance Whiston, Sheila Hood, and Lisa Bellar.
“We had many wonderful and trying times that year, but we made it through!”
From Frances Hamm
“As far as memory serves about the first year, I have a few from the Treasurer’s perspective. I have all my computer records from that year; including the first list of members (45 the first year), financial reports, etc. The picture (above) is probably the one made of the officers at the Maricopa Inn on the Guadalupe River in January 2001. (My records show 2001—the Homer Martin meeting was September 2000). The complete list of the first year’s members is in the order they joined with addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses!”
“The financial reports show the sagging finances as of August 2001 (balance of $192.89), and the boost that occurred after the huge silent auction and raffle we had in August ’01 at Crockett, TX. The September 2001 report had a balance of $2452.80!!! We were off and running! Incidentally, the organizer for the event was Cindy Alexander with Sarah Valentine, Audrey Ambrose, and Frances Hamm helping. But of course, Constance thought the whole thing up and brought in some of the best fly tiers in the state. We had many wonderful and trying times that year, but we made it through! We ate Dutch oven meals by Ann Carr and fished with cheap rod/reel sets from Academy or whatever. We learned some about casting, and Constance tried to pour the contents of her head into our heads so we would be better anglers. Great times!”
From Coco Davenport
“On July 28, 2003, Austin Texas Outdoor Women’s Network held a farewell dinner for Constance Whiston, our founder. Due to the short notice, only Joy Emshoff, Sheila Anderson, Audrey Ambrose, Sarah Valentine, and Coco Davenport from TWFF were able to attend. Constance was presented with a NEW paddle. Her old one is about 15 years old and very heavy. Now she has a new lightweight Texas paddle to take her cruising the Missouri waters.” “Constance will be leaving Austin to move to Springfield, Missouri August 7. Constance is, was, and always will be an inspiration to us all. She invited a handful of ladies to a “lets fish and talk outing” at Homer Martin Ranch in September 2000 to discuss the possibility of starting a Texas women’s fly fishing group. We loved the idea and TWFF, her dream, was born. Constance has been not only an outstanding leader and educator, but a true friend. We will miss her, but she says she will be scouting the waters of Missouri, and we are welcome to come fish with her.”
“We owe a great debt of gratitude to Constance for her tireless efforts on the behalf of Texas women, not only in creating TWFF but also in her efforts in the founding of Austin TOWN and Austin Fly Fishers, in her work for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as her Living Waters fly fishing guide service. We will miss her. Her dedication inspires us all to go forth and continue the work she has started.”