Beasley is a reel woman

Fred D. Cavinder | Jun 29, 2011, 4:15 p.m.
Landing a redfish like this one is rewarding, but it's also about the hunt for Beasley.


Feature Writer

Ten years ago Patti Beasley started a fly fishing club because she wanted to find other Indianapolis women anglers. She called it Reel Women. Then she got a call from a man.

“He said, ‘I don’t care what it’s called. I saw you people fishing on White River and I’m new in town and I’m looking for other people to fish with,’” she recalls.

Beasley, 53 years old, quickly changed the club name to Reel Women-Reel Men. It’s been growing ever since, reaching about 130 members after a first meeting of four women. It also has become a central Indiana club involved with Casting for Recovery, a national nonprofit that uses fly fishing to assist breast cancers survivors.

“The fly casting motion helps to rehabilitate the muscles that have been cut in surgery,” said Beasley. “It’s just a healing event.” The event is a yearly free retreat for breast cancer victims that Reel Women-Reel Men sponsors near Henryville in southern Indiana.

It’s all part of fly fishing that Beasley learned as a girl in Italy. She has pursued that and also hunting ever since, except for a hiatus while raising a family. She and her husband, Terry, settled in Indianapolis from Cleveland about 25 years ago. Terry Beasley was from Columbus, Ind.; they met in Cleveland in the workplace.

The fishing gene has been passed on. Although their daughter, Carla Beasley Mann, doesn’t fish, son, Tony, is both fisherman and hunter. “I take him hunting with me for Christmas every year,” said Patti. Her grandson, Thomas, already has caught a bluegill at age 5.

“My father, Gino Granchelli, was an avid outdoorsman, loved to hunt and loved to fish,” recalls Beasley. “It was important to him that he passed that on to his children.”

So Patti joined him and her brother to fly fish and also hunt birds with a side-by-side shotgun. She still hunts grouse in season and keeps in shooting trim with twice-weekly skeet shooting at the Indiana Gun Club in Fortville. “I don’t do rabbits,” said Beasley. “I’m intrigued by flying targets.”

I began to realize at a very young age that I loved being outdoors more than anything,” said Beasley. “Now, I’m on the water every day, even if it’s on the pond in my neighborhood. I try to catch a couple of bluegills every day.”

Oddly, husband, Terry, has done little fishing. He caught his first trout on a recent trip to West Virginia, Patti said.

Her daily romance with the water includes numerous fly casting lessons that she gives; she attended tutelage schools in New York and Alaska. She sometimes teaches fly casting in towns near her northeast Indianapolis home. Many students are men, some are youngsters.

She also conducts an annual one-day fly-fishing exhibition and show, Indiana on the Fly, in January.

She still finds time to garden, another hobby inherited from her father; favorites are hydrangeas. She travels to hunt and fish, but not as much as she would like, in Maine she hunted and also caught a muskellunge, which required dozens of casts. Her German short-haired pointer mix, Stetson, is a 2-year-old and, she believes, will have his best bird hunting season this fall.

Club members fish every Wednesday. “We have quite a few married couples, we have younger couples who are dating, we’ve had couples who found each other through fly fishing,” she said. Ponds and the White River are Indianapolis-area sites, she said.

Beasley loves to tie flies, but fishing a fast stream is her nirvana. “It’s not just about catching the fish. It’s about the hunt, the stalking, It’s also about just enjoying the beauty that’s around.

“My favorite way to fish is to be in the river, wading. It’s just very, very soothing and removes me from the daily hustle, bustle of the city,” she said.

Beasley’s one caution is that fly fishing, reportedly a fast-growing sport for women, faces an uncertain future because she feels it is not being passed on to enough youngsters.

“It’s a sport that you never stop learning,” she said. “It’s never ending.”

For more information visit www.reelwomen-reelmen.com

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