Noe Valley Voice April 2010

Barbara Klutinis poses with the rainbow trout she caught—and tossed back—while fishing on the Hunter River in New Zealand in February.
Photo by Diane Whitehouse

The Women Who Love Fly-Fishing

By Heather World

Around the time her college-bound children began leaving her Cesar Chavez Street home, filmmaker Barbara Klutinis got hooked on a new passion: fly-fishing. The sport became so meaningful to her she made a documentary about it.

Stepping into the Stream, released this past January, is Klutinis' 43-minute homage to fly-fishing (fishing using a feathered fly instead of bait) and its impact on the women who do it. She tells the story via the reflections of six women whom she met through her travels with the Golden West Women Flyfishers club, a nonprofit that launches a dozen outings each year to fishing spots as near as Pleasanton and as far as Alaska.

In peaceful outdoor settings and sometimes with water splashing up to their knees, the women in the film describe how they took up fly-fishing, what it was like in the early days when few women practiced the sport, and how fly-fishing influenced their relationships with nature and helped them through challenging times. Klutinis filmed the documentary during trips to the Yuba, Truckee, and Upper Sacramento rivers, as well as in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

She says many women come to the sport after a significant change in life, such as a divorce or cancer diagnosis.

Klutinis, a retired teacher of film studies at Skyline College and San Francisco State University, worked as a flight attendant with Pan Am for 16 years before she had her second child. She says the camaraderie of her fishing club reminds her of the close relationships she built with her former colleagues as they traveled around the world.

"I feel like I kind of found my tribe again," says the 67-year-old mother of two.

Although she has now been a fly-fisher for a decade, Klutinis chose not to appear in the film--because she didn't need to, she says. "Everything in the film represents some feeling about how fly-fishing has touched me in some way."

She knows men often document their fishing experiences, but those films are different. "It's all what they call 'fish porn'--guys reeling in their big fish," she says.

Her film is more contemplative, and shows the gentler side of the sport. "I never kill or eat the fish. I always throw them back," she notes.

Klutinis' favorite fishing spots, like the California rivers where she filmed, are at least three hours away, but beginners can find free casting lessons in San Francisco through the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club, she says.

Many members of the local fly-fishing community joined Klutinis in February at a special screening of Stepping into the Stream at Delancey Street Screening Room. Soon after, she took off on a fishing trip to New Zealand.

These days, Klutinis is busy mailing DVD copies of her film to documentary film festivals. To see a trailer of the film or to buy a DVD, go to the film's website: