Therapy of fly fishing hooks Titusville veterinarian


Dr. Marcia Ely likes fly fishing as a means to unwind after a long day as a veterinarian at Sunrise Animal Hospital in Titusville.

Courtesy of Gary Gillett

Several times a week, Titusville veterinarian Dr. Marcia Ely leaves her Sunrise Animal Hospital in Titusville with a fly fishing rod on hand.

During the day, she helps the pets, but after work she helps herself by partaking in the zen-inducing sport of fly fishing.

Once considered a guy sport focused along the bodies of water of the West, fly fishing is enjoying a renaissance that is drawing more women, who, like Ely, enjoy its therapeutic benefits.

According to a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, of the 35.8 million anglers who fish for sport in America, 9.8 million are women, many of them from Florida, where saltwater fly fishing is sizzling in popularity.

Ely should become a poster girl for fly fishing with the upcoming release of the hardcover coffee table book, “Fifty Women Who Fish,” the first book to focus exclusively on women anglers. The foreword of the book was written by the late President George H. W. Bush, an avid fisherman himself.

The book is the work of Florida angler Steve Kantner, who spent two years interviewing a wide range of female anglers from Florida to Alaska. Kantner met Ely through a mutual friend, fly fishing legend Jon Cave.

At a fundraiser, Ely won a fly rod and decided to take lessons with Cave, who became a good friend and mentor. She proved to be a good student in both casting and fly tying, entering the Ironman Fly Tying event and placing first during the second year of trying.

Her local favorite fishing holes are the ditches around Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, where she casts for juvenile tarpon, which can put up quite a fight, even though they are not much bigger than 1½ feet.

“They’re serious fish,” Ely said.

Twice a month, Ely takes her fishing gear to Viera, where she teaches fly fishing to veterans through Project Healing Waters, dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military and veterans through fishing.

She practices and promotes catch-and-release, since for Ely, the act of fly fishing is the object.

“I don’t like cleaning fish, but I love fishing,” Ely said.

“Fifty Women Who Fish” is available from or by calling Wild River Press at 425-486-3638. The book, printed in Michigan on paper milled in Wisconsin, sells for $59.95.