When I found out that I was pregnant, books like What
to Expect When You're Expecting, What to Expect the First
Year, and What to Expect the Toddler Years
(By Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff and Sandee E. Hathaway)
were easy to find, and very informative as well. However,
I wasn't able to find any literature that could offer me
some guidance about what to expect while being pregnant,
and still going fly-fishing! Therefore, I felt compelled
to share my experience (as I went fly-fishing throughout
my nine months of pregnancy) and offer some suggestions
to future mothers -to-be and their partners, in case they
choose to pursue the sport of fly-fishing, while waiting
for their bundle of joy to arrive. My suggestions aren't
at all comprehensive, and many of the things I recommend
for the expecting fly angler (e.g. what to wear or eat,
type of fishing equipment) aren't that different from the
ones a non-pregnant fly angler might choose for her outings,
but here are my two cents.
As a pregnant fly angler you need to make some adjustments
not only to your wardrobe, but also to your fishing
equipment as well. For instance, at the beginning
of my pregnancy, I used my 4-piece 7W 8 1/2-foot
long custom-made fly rod at every fishing trip we made.
This rod was built on a Sage blank and had good performance.
However, as the pregnancy progressed, I began to feel
uncomfortable and fatigued when casting with this rod.
It felt too heavy for me to cast with. Wanting to
continue fishing without feeling fatigued, I began
to use a 4-piece 5W 7 1/2-foot Sage fly rod that Jorge
had bought for himself at an outdoor sports show in
Philadelphia. The more I used it, the more I liked it,
and that was the end of Jorge's ownership of this fly
rod. That is, this rod and I became inseparable; our
bond was so strong that Jorge rarely got a chance to
use it. Nevertheless, he didn't say anything about
wanting his rod back.
Then, on a trip we made to a fly-fishing show in Garden
State, New Jersey, the funniest thing happened.
Jorge bought a 4Wt 9-foot Thomas & Thomas fly rod for
himself and insisted in buying me a 5Wt 9-foot one as
well. I didn't want another 5Wt rod so I asked myself,
"Why is he insisting on this rod?" Verbalizing my
thoughts, I asked, "Why buy another 5Wt rod if I
already have one?" Jorge never answered this question,
that is, not in a direct manner. Instead, he began to
give me all kinds of explanations about how good the
Thomas & Thomas rods were. I couldn't help but think
that perhaps Jorge wanted to buy me the 5Wt T&T because
he wanted his Sage rod back. However, according to Jorge,
this wasn't the case at all. Interesting enough, when we
left the fly-fishing show, two T&T rods left the show with
us (a 4Wt and a 5Wt one).
I decided to give the 5Wt T&T rod a try and cast with it
during several of our fishing trips. It turned out to
be a good rod. However, my attachment to Jorge's 5Wt
Sage rod was already too strong and I wasn't willing to
give it up! To my surprise, Jorge allowed me to keep it,
and I still don't know why. Perhaps he didn't want to
deny a pregnant woman a wish, for fear to get a sty;
or maybe, being a good husband, he simply enjoyed seeing
the mother of his soon-to-be-born child fishing. Whatever
his reason, I kept on using the sweet 5Wt 7 1/2 foot Sage rod.
My reason for liking this particular fly rod was a very
simple one. It is a light rod, but not a puny light rod;
it also has lots of authority. Furthermore, its great
performance allowed me to cast easily without becoming
fatigued or exhausted, something very crucial for me, as
I stopped fishing just a few days before my due date!
And before you jump to conclusions, I can assure that
the Sage Company isn't giving me any royalties for
advertising this rod, though that would be nice! I just
know by experience that if you want a light fly-fishing
rod with lots of authority, (not that I'm a fly-rod's guru
to recommend you what type to use) the 5Wt 7 1/2-foot long
Sage is a good choice.
It should be noted that a light fly rod is not the only
thing to consider having when pregnant and fishing.
Having the knowledge of how to take care of yourself
and your baby is extremely important as well. For
instance, prior to my pregnancy, I was enduring a
severe low back pain due to a herniated disc. The
baby and the weight gained during my pregnancy added
more pressure to it, and so I needed to be very careful
not to strain it even more. Therefore, to decrease and
relieve my back pain I used a portable canoe seat that
helped keep my back as straight as possible while sitting
and fishing. I also took breaks and practiced the exercises
given to me by the chiropractor I had been seeing for quite
a while prior to my pregnancy. She used an adjusting method
called non-directional force technique, which helped me cope
with my back problem before and during my pregnancy,
particularly, on long fishing days.
Comfortable shoes and clothes are crucial items for a pregnant
fly angler who choose to fish on hot and humid days, as
hormonal changes are accountable for making pregnant women
feel overheated rather quickly. However, when the time to
look for comfy outdoors pregnancy clothes came, I found
out that the maternity clothes available were either ugly
or too expensive. This is why I decided to wear simple
and practical clothes during my pregnancy. For instance,
in early springtime I wear large sizes of tights, shirts,
sweaters, and sweatpants. On sunny and more humid days I
wore light cotton Indian dresses as well as cotton shirts
and exercise spandex shorts. These types of clothes were
very easy to find, affordable, and convenient.
Regarding swimsuits...well, my husband and I happen to
believe that pregnancy is a beautiful stage, and neither
of us felt uncomfortable with me showing my very pregnant
belly. This is why I chose to wear a bikini whenever
I went swimming. I also found it to be more comfortable
and prettier than wearing a maternity-bathing suit.
However, I have to recognize that not every woman and
their partners might agree with my point of view. But
if you feel like wearing a bikini, go ahead and do so,
enjoy the sun and the breeze caressing your skin. After
all, a little bit of sun on your belly won't do you or
your baby, any harm. However, watch out of the content
of your day cooler, as food cravings (many times the
unhealthy ones) can make you gain weight easily, being
you, pregnant or not. Thus, make sure to take with you
plenty of healthy snacks to calm your hunger and plenty
of water to avoid dehydration. In addition to healthy
food, you mustn't forget to bring a good sun block and
a hat. Again, these items are even more necessary for
pregnant women, as some might develop pregnancy spots
on their faces. I recommend, and particularly like, the
type of sun block that has an insect repellent in it.
Why? It isn't fun to stop your fishing trip because of
having to visit a doctor's office, when you could be
landing some good fish. An experience I went through
while fishing for "macabí or ratón" (bonefish) in one
of the many beautiful Los Roques islands, 80 miles away
from La Guaira, Venezuela.
It so happens that trying to protect my sensitive skin
from the strong ultraviolet effects of the equatorial
sun, I used not only my sun block, but my friend's sun
block as well. And when the mosquitoes began their quest
for fresh blood, I also added a coat of insect repellent
to my mixture of sun blocks. Not a good idea...because
this combination proved to be costly not only to my skin,
but also to my pocket. That is, I got a severe rash on
my face, neck and arms, and was forced to take an emergency
trip to a dermatologist's office in Caracas. My misfortune
also took away some of my precious fishing time, but what
do you know, this experience not only taught me a lesson,
it also gave me an anecdote to write about!
Another interesting aspect of my experiences while pregnant
and fly-fishing was our encounters with other fishermen.
Some turned to look at me twice, wanting to make sure they
weren't seeing a mirage. When they became aware that I
was real, their faced reflected quite an amazed look.
"You must really like fishing" or "Your baby will
definitely like to go fishing," a fisherman said to me.
Another one looked at Jorge, and commented, "You are
lucky your wife likes fishing so much to even do it
while pregnant. Mine cannot stand it." In addition
to these comments, two question were frequently asked:
"Aren't you afraid of going into labor while fishing
from that tiny dinghy?" and, "What would you do if your
wife goes into labor right now?" Yet, I never gave
these questions too much consideration, at least, not
until the weekend before my due date arrived.
That weekend in particular we went fishing for bass
and pan fish in one of the many Delaware State Parks,
and while looking for some rising fish, several thoughts
and images came to my mind. I pictured Jorge rowing as
quickly as possible to get to shore (we have an electric
motor for our dinghy, but liking to row, Jorge and I have
only used it twice before) while I kept on yelling at him
to row faster because I was in pain, and didn't know if I
could make it to shore! These thoughts and images made
me feel uneasy about being away from home. Don't get me
wrong, I trust Jorge with all my heart, and knew that he
had been reading a lot about the pregnancy stages and how
to deliver a baby, in case he needed to. Nonetheless,
the idea of having our baby in a 10-foot-long dinghy
wasn't appealing to me. I looked at him, and snapping
out of my thoughts, I reminded Jorge that we were two
hours away from home. "What if I begin to have contractions
now? I asked, and then added, "I love fishing very much,
but I don't want to have our child in a 10-foot dinghy."
Jorge, always the calm type, looked at me and with a
very calm voice asked, "Are you having contractions now?"
"No," I responded. With the same calm voice he added
that if I began to have contractions we would go to
the nearby hospital.
My reply? "I would rather be in Philly and deliver
our baby with our midwife."
"That would definitely be better," he said and calmly
continued to look out for some rising fish. I stared
at him for a few seconds, astonished at his reaction.
If he was anxious at all, Jorge managed to hide it
very well, as he changed the conversation and asked me
to cast at some rising fish ahead of us. And if this
was Jorge's way of trying to put a stop to my worries,
it definitely worked, as the rising fish caught my
attention. Taking some deep breaths, I began to
present my fly. Next thing I knew I was landing a
fish, and what was I worried about? This is how I
looked, the weekend before my due date; I was big!
The rest of the trip went very well. We had a beautiful
afternoon, with a very refreshing cool breeze. Better yet,
I was able to catch and release a few more pan fish. When
sunset arrived, we were in our car, heading home. To my
relief, and Jorge's, too, our baby didn't choose to come
to the world during this fishing weekend after all, but
the Wednesday after. A few months later, and up until
the present time, my son Sebastián continues to go
fishing with me! ~ Marta
Below are more fishing photos of Marta and her children.