Like any seasoned fisher or hunter, talk to Beverly Jefferson for five minutes and you are sure to get a story or two.
For instance, she tells a story about fly-fishing for bonefish in the Bahamas with her husband when both a shark and a barracuda simultaneously went after the exact fish she was trying to land. Jefferson won the fight.
She also has a story about fly-fishing with a group of girlfriends when a large bear feeding on the bank kept her stranded on a rock in the middle of the river.
During other fishing trips around the world, with destinations such as Belize, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska and all across the Pacific Northwest, she’s encountered unexpected lightning on the Salmon River, ticket-wielding game wardens in Alaska and her share of guides who underestimated her talent, spirit and ferocity for landing the fish she wants.
“I love the hunt. I love spotting the fish and getting the fly to the fish and then watching it explode out of the water. It’s just magic,” Jefferson says. “Every time I catch a fish—and I have no idea where these words come from— I yell, ‘Hot dog!’ I just love whooping and hollering.” Once she gets a photo, however, she invariably lets the fish go.
Jefferson can’t remember a time in her life without fishing, her very first memory is one in which her grandfather taught her the sport using a marshmallow at a fish hatchery in Pennsylvania. But it wasn’t until the mid-90s when her husband, Don, sent her off for a week of fly-fishing lessons, that she really got hooked.
“I thought I had been fishing my whole life, but in that week I learned a lot; I learned to properly tie flies and the art of casting,” Jefferson says. “By the end of the week, I had fished until my right hand didn’t work anymore, so I cast with my left hand.”
In the years since, she’s amassed success stories of landing epic fish (some of which she keeps photos in her purse), stories about fish getting away, stories about spending entire days with no fish at all, and stories about fishing with her children and grandchildren. But no matter the location or the outcome, Jefferson sums up what the sport brings to her life. “In the end, it’s really all about the beauty of being outdoors, sharing it with girlfriends or my husband,” she says. "I like pushing myself for new adventures.”
And, of course, a large part of the fun is the camaraderie she creates with her fishing partners. Jefferson often travels and fishes with Don (her “constant play pal”) but she also finds great joy in sharing the typically male-dominated sport with other women.
“Sometimes it’s more fun to fish with a woman because of the laughter and not having to have everything perfect. I find women more easily laugh at losing a fish, or at falling in the water or when there are no fish,” Jefferson says. “Plus women are extremely sharing of everything, all their knowledge. They are excited for everyone else; men tend to be more independent.”
The same goes for her hunting trips, where she hunts mostly waterfowl and upland birds, such as duck, pheasant and chucker in the Pacific Northwest. For fours years now, she has done so with a group called Glamour and Guns. It’s an organization that encourages women to pick up the sport of wing shooting without the intimidation factor of participating in sport that, like fishing, is traditionally male-dominated. She says she loves sharing the outdoors experience with some of her dearest friends.
“I love the whole beauty of it, seeing the dogs work, seeing a dog flush a bird or making a long-range retrieve. Then the dog brings it back to your hand, and you have it for dinner,” Jefferson says, who has become proficient in cooking wild game cuisine, often hosting dinner parties at her home.
Understanding how exciting hunting and fishing can be for women, Jefferson makes it a priority to recruit more women to the sports. “I have a hiking group, a moms’ group, and I’ve exposed all these women to fishing and shot-gunning, and it’s been such a positive experience.” She also likes to remind women they can still be feminine and glamorous in the woods. “I love all the clothes and fashion; I love camouflage and tweed!” she says.
Beverly’s Favorite Fishing Holes
While she often travels the world to land fish, Jefferson says she is lucky to live in an area with world-class locations for salmon and trout fishing. Here are a few of her favorite fishing holes:
“I love the Yakima River! It is so close, so wonderful and so healthy. It’s full of rainbows and cutthroats.”
Coastal Rivers on the Olympic Peninsula
“I was recently introduced to this area for steelhead and thought it was one of the most beautiful and majestic fisheries anywhere.”
(A tributary of Columbia River)
“The steelhead fishing on the Klickitat is great. Salmon too."