A Guide, Educator and Mother: Shyanne Orvis

My name is Shyanne Orvis, I'm a fly fishing guide, travel host, author, the West Slope Angling Representative for the Colorado Wildlife Council but more importantly...a mother. Colorado has been my home for nearly a decade, but I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan.

How did you get into fly fishing?
I was first exposed to fly fishing by my grandfather. While the majority of my family were conventional anglers, I can recall being a little girl and sitting in the basement of our cabin watching him build a fly rod. We didn’t have a close relationship but we shared a love for being outside. I had a handful of opportunities to fly fish throughout my teenage years but it wasn’t until I moved to Colorado at 18, that I discovered this entire world of fly fishing. I made some incredible friends and mentors who shared their love for this sport with me and I’ve spent the next ten years of my life exploring the mountains and the rivers that surround me. 

What advice would you have for parents in regards to raising a child with an appreciation for the outdoors?
Since Colter was first born, I’ve made it a priority of mine to give him as much exposure to the outdoors as possible. I want him to have a positive association with nature and being on the river, so I always go at his pace. Colter’s still so young, so my hope is that by continuing to explore with him and while making it fun, he’ll grow to love and appreciate the outdoors. Only time will tell but so far he wakes me up at 6am with his shoes in his little hands yelling “mama, outside play” so I think we’re off to a good start.

How has becoming a mother changed the way you fish and interact with the outdoors? Any stories you'd like to add in regards to this?

Becoming a mother has changed everything honestly. I look at fly fishing and being in nature with an entirely different perspective. When I'm on the river with Colter, I find myself wondering what I need to do to help preserve these fisheries so that someday he can also experience the beauty of these wild places. It’s shifted my priorities and I feel it’s important to continue to educate myself so I can be a better advocate for these resources.

Can you discuss any particular challenges you've faced as a woman in the traditionally male-dominated fly fishing industry, and how you've overcome them?

I don’t know if it has anything to do with gender truthfully or if it’s just a culprit of utilizing social media to build my guiding and travel career but I think one of the biggest hurdles I’ve faced in the fly fishing industry has been having to navigate other people who doubt my intentions and angling abilities within the fishing community. I think there’s always been this negative perception towards posting my journey on social media and it took a long time for people to realize that I wasn’t going anywhere. I truly love this sport and I love continuing to learn and grow as a guide and an angler.. and especially now as a mother, I'm excited to foster this passion for fly fishing within Colter.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being a fly fishing guide and educator for you?
Being a fly fishing guide is truly the greatest yet hardest job I’ll probably ever have. The amount of hours, preparation and hard work that goes into guiding truly is underestimated yet the reward of sharing what you love with other people is unmatched. There’s so many special days, epic fishing and incredible people that are forever ingrained in my memory. Sometimes it’s fishing yet sometimes it’s so much more than just that. Being able to provide a tailored experience depending on the person and what they need that day is a skill that only a guide can acquire.

In your opinion, what role does fly fishing play in promoting mental health and well-being?
Fly fishing can be whatever you need it to be. It can be this grounding, meditative place or it can be a thrilling, high intensity experience. Somehow being on the water with a fly rod in hand is always exactly what you needed, even if you didn’t know it at the time.

How do you balance the demands of guiding with the responsibilities of motherhood?
I think I'm still trying to figure this one out honestly. Ask me next year, maybe I'll know by then. Since we’re being honest, last year was really challenging trying to balance guide trips while also the unpredictability of Colter’s schedule. It seemed like every other week he was battling some sort of sick bug, which meant he couldn’t attend daycare and I couldn’t attend my guide trips. It was frustrating at times but I did my best to navigate it and communicate with my clients and the shop. Fingers crossed this season looks differently.

Have you encountered any specific challenges or obstacles as a new mother in the fly fishing industry, and how have you navigated them?
Being a new mother in the fly fishing space has actually been a really supportive and positive experience thus far.

What impact do you hope your experience as a mother and a guide will have on your child's relationship with nature and the outdoors?
It’s a delicate balance because you want your children to love the same things you do but also foster their own sense of identity and passions. I hope that by setting an example, giving him exposure to fishing and educating him on conservation that it sparks a curiosity in him to create a meaningful, impactful life.

How do you prioritize self-care and personal time for yourself while balancing the demands of work and motherhood?
Balancing work, motherhood and self-care will never be an easy task but it’s a pivotal one. I’ve found this to be a common thread in my conversations with other moms. Being a mom is truly the hardest yet most rewarding job I've ever done and I've found that when I take moments for myself then it gives me the ability to fully show up for my son.