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Cancer survivors hook a new lease on life
Casting for Confidence event offers women lessons in fly-fishing
Peggy Brown of Tyrone listens as instructor Aaron Hyte gives her tips on how to cast a line Saturday during Georgia Women Flyfishers' Casting for Confidence at Frog Hollow in Dahlonega. The event provides a day of fly fishing on a privately-owned section of the Chestatee River for breast cancer survivors. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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For more information about the Georgia Women Flyfishers, visit their website.

Grab your rod and pink hat — it's fishing time.

People gathered at Frog Hollow in Dahlonega early Saturday morning for the annual Casting for Confidence-North introducing the sport of fly-fishing to breast cancer survivors.

The event, which was equipped with 20 participants and 45 volunteers, was held by the Georgia Women Flyfishers.

To scope out participants, Eunice Lovell, the president of the Georgia Women Flyfishers said that the club publicized the event through breast cancer survivor groups and wellness programs throughout the state.

Saturday, the chosen ladies were able to learn about the bugs that live in the river and all of the critters trout eat.
"They will also learn how to cast a fly rod with a fly line on it, and they will learn how to gear up if they really want to pursue fly-fishing," Lovell said. "In the afternoon, they will learn to tie some flies and they will be allowed to get in the water and fish."

Lovell said that the women would be using a pond on the Frog Hollow property as well as the river.

She said fly-fishing gives women a low-impact type of exercise.

"Fly-fishing does not require a lot of arm strength," Lovell said. "Many of these ladies have gone through surgery or they have had radiation, but most of them have been out of treatment for a while, so the activities should not be too difficult for them."

Participant Judy Johnson drove all the way from Savannah to participate in Casting for Confidence.

"I'm big on the outdoors and nature, but I've never fly-fished before," Johnson said. "It is beautiful here - I haven't been to North Georgia much, and I'm excited about getting in the water."

But what Judy Johnson and the other participants didn't know was that prizes would be awarded before the day's end, some earning rods and reels along with other prizes.

Trudy Johnson, co-director of the event with Lovell and a member of the Georgia Women Flyfishers, was a participant last year who found a love for fly-fishing. She advises women who have become fond of fly-fishing to join an organization like the Georgia Women Flyfishers.

Trudy Johnson, who went through her treatment in 2005, said that for breast cancer survivors, Casting for Confidence can give them exercise and get them outdoors.

"When you go through treatment, your live is consumed by all of the treatment," she said. "I always hope that this is an event where people can come to, forget the treatment, relax, meet new people and have a good time."

Trudy Johnson believes that breast cancer awareness is very important.

"Awareness can help women understand that it is treatable, and you shouldn't be afraid of it," she said. "Just find it early, deal with it and move on with your life."

Lovell said that Casting for Confidence is the most enjoyable event that she takes part in all year.

"Being with these ladies and seeing the excitement that they have when trying to learn something completely new that is a good exercise for them is great," she said. "The laughs, the giggles and the sharing makes this a day that not just the participants but also the volunteers have a blast at."