NEAR RED LODGE – Fly fishing has been around in Montana ever since rivers made their way through our beautiful state, and harnessing that power as a global sport is exactly what Red Lodge’s Lindsay Szofran plans to do. .
“River Dreams” – Montana woman lands spot on US fly fishing team
âIt’s a passion and a sport for me,â Szofran said.
She recently became the last member of the United States women’s fly fishing team in hopes of competing on an international stage in 2022. Her debut in the sport began simply. As a born and raised Montanais, Szofran grew up on a family farm and fished as a child. She explained: “Like many Montanais, when the film came out, the whole family got interested in fly fishing.”
The movie she is referring to is, of course, A river crosses it, the 1992 film adapted from the book and starring Brad Pitt. The film portrays the love of fly fishing by two brothers who grow up in Missoula and fish the Blackfoot River.
âMy dad started chasing it and we kids said, ‘Well that sounds interesting, we want to try it too’, so we got into that in the 90s,â she declared.
Since then, Szofran has been fly fishing. But it wasn’t until years later that his fly-fishing hobby grew into something more. Her husband Andy has a lot to do with it.
âOur first date we went golfing, but our second date we went fly fishing,â she said.
Together they guide the Stillwater and Yellowstone rivers in Montana. She says Andy encouraged and supported her in her competitive mission.
âI will give credit where credit is due he has been a very patient man for many years and has really taught me most of what I know about fly fishing,â she said. âHe really helped bring me to this level and be part of the women’s team.
Maybe even long before they started fishing together.
âIt’s pretty funny, Andy had a fly shop in 1993 and my brothers and I had stopped by his fly shop and bought some flies. It wasn’t until 1998 that I met Andy. But I remembered going to her fly shop and being there, which was pretty funny, âshe said.
The opportunity to compete at the world level is reserved for only six women across the country and Lindsay Szofran is one of them.
âAs a child, I have always been active in sport, just like my family. I come from a very competitive family. I never thought I would have the opportunity to compete at the world level, âshe said.
The contestants are two from Pennsylvania and one from Georgia, Colorado and California. Szofran adds to the team his experience of fishing on the rivers and streams of Montana.
âMontana is the mecca of fly fishing,â she said.
She says, generally with competitive sports, athletes are young and in their prime
âWith that, it’s years of experience that brought me to this level,â she said. “I probably got my competitive side from my dad who is a competitive trap shooter.”
The first American female fly fishing competition is scheduled for 2022 in Europe. But because of the pandemic, the competition was canceled for this year. It will be the specific world competition of the first lady – in addition to an adult team and a youth team.
âIt’s a great opportunity to have a female team to meet women from across the country who have the same passion for the river and the fish that I do is really rewarding,â she said.
She says what helped her reach this level were the rivers and streams of Montana. Szofran says Montana’s stream access laws allow people to access the river at public access points – an advantage the U.S. team has over its global competitors.
âWhen you get to Europe where we’re going to compete, it’s mostly private,â she said.
But competition isn’t just on her mind. For many Montanais, going fishing on the river simply means taking the stress out of life.
âIt clears my mind and I forget about the laundry I have to do around the house or whatever those chores we all have,â Szofran said.
Ultimately, Szofran hopes to bring this beloved Montana sport to a national stage.
âIt’s always something that I understand that I have the opportunity to make it happen, so I work really hard,â she said.