Women in Fishing

JULY 25, 2005 - Posted at 12:35 p.m. CDT

HEBER SPRINGS, AR  - Fog rolls in, kissing the chilly waters of the Little Red.  I f you listen closely, you can hear the sound of a fly fisherman casting a line.  It’s an unmistakable sound, but a skill that takes years of practice and patience.  A fly fisherman, rain or shine, lives for that sound – its slow hypnotism, its soothing hum.

The river backs up to Denise Barton’s back yard, and the sound of a fly fisher casting his line is to what she wakes up.  It’s also how Barton makes a living.  People pay her hundreds of dollars to guide them along rivers in the Heber Springs area. 


“As a guide client, you’re looking for a person or a personality that clicks, but, you also want a real knowledge based guide. Somebody who understands the waters that you’re your fishing,” says Barton. 


She knows the right spots, and she has the access and the experience.


“There were a lot of women getting into guiding out West and being very successful at it.  There were a lot of female anglers, who desired a female guide as well as men.  The majority of my clients are men, but some ladies really like taking instruction from a woman.  So, that’s been really good for my business,” says Barton.


Denise also fishes for pleasure.  She says fishing is a great escape and “very relaxing.  It’s very rhythmic – the art of casting.”  Barton cast away all her second thoughts about making a career out of fly fishing.  N ow, every decision she makes is smooth and calculated, the same way she casts a line. 


Many of Barton’s clients are interested in buying property along the river.  So, Denise became a real estate agent.  Above all, she’s a business woman, but that doesn’t define who she is. 


“At this stage in my life with raising kids and stuff, I can’t imagine getting in two hundred days on the water.” 


 Denise does guide more than a hundred days a year. 


 “In the name of fishing, you can experience a lot of things all over the country and all over the world,” says Barton. 


 She’s a fisherman of all seasons – underneath it all, just a woman casting a line.