Editor’s note: This December marked our 7th Annual Real Women of Northwest Fishing feature! Once again, we turned the issue over to the women and girls who are quietly and very successfully joining the ranks of Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishers, making Northwest anglerdom all the stronger. And as we do each year, we share their stories and photos on our blog. Enjoy this year’s edition of Northwest Sportsman’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing!
By Troy Rodakowski
“I was always drawn to fishing but never really had anyone in my world who fished, so it was just something I might do ‘someday,’” says Gretchen Dearden.
The smiles of happy anglers and the peaceful scenes from the water intrigued her, but also were intimidating for the Everett resident.
That is, “until a few years ago, when I went on a guided tour with Mr. Dave Perez and got my first salmon ever,” she says.
Since then, Dearden has made sure to visit the water regularly, and not just to catch as many as she can but also to absorb all that she could about baiting hooks, the gear and how to manage her own. She has done a pretty good job over the last few years and now spends even more time fishing.
“I wanted to spend all my free time on the water; I wanted to learn everything,” she adds.
Dearden’s life has not come without challenges. In August 2015 she lost her ex-husband in a tragic canoeing accident while her two boys watched during a Boy Scout trip in Montana.
“It took me months to be able to leave my boys and even think about fishing again. But when I finally did, with that first sunrise on the Columbia I knew it was where I belonged. That spiritual moment of feeling close to their father and talking to him and God, telling them to please protect my boys,” says Dearden.
Being on the water with nature helps to cleanse the soul and heal her heart.
Dearden has also been blessed to meet Jay Johnstone of Wraptor Rods and become a part of that family. Everyone there has been so helpful to Dearden. Several people have taken the time to teach her something.
“In all honesty, they saved me and kept me believing I could fish and be good at it,” she says.
Folks like Bill Monroe Jr., Sara Dodd, Jay and Julie Johnstone, Pam Magley, and Dan and Corin Snider all are very special to her.
Dearden wants to continue with her passion and never give up. She wants to be that grandma who is taking her grandchildren fishing and creating a lifetime of memories with them.