On weekends, you're likely to find Alysson Cwyk up to her hips in a trout stream.
"I try to get out of the city and go fishing," said Cwyk, executive assistant to Moore President Cecelia Fitzgibbon. "I love the challenge -- choosing the right fly and presenting it in a realistic way in order to capture the attention of the fish; hooking and landing the fooled fish. Fly fishing relaxes me in a way that nothing else ever has. I can focus for hours on the water. It clears my mind and rejuvenates me.”
Cwyk is president of the Delaware Valley Women's Fly Fishing Association, an organization that just celebrated its 21st year and boasts 80 active members.
"I have been fly fishing since I could walk," she said. "My father was an avid fly fisherman, and has been doing it for over 50 years."
Cwyk, who grew up in Chadds Ford, Pa., also spent a lot of time as a child learning the technique from others.
“I used to go to fly fishing camp when I was between the ages of 8 and 15,” she said. “I went through a fly fishing youth program up in the Catskills in New York. I’m now an instructor for that program.”
Cwyk takes members of the fly fishing association to the Catskills and other locales for social events and workshops, and there have been some teachable moments on the water.
“Last year, we had a woman fall into the stream,” she said. “It was April and the water was in the upper 30s, and the air was in the 40s. Hypothermia can set in within 15 minutes, so we had to strip her down and throw her some old clothes that were sitting in the back of my car that were covered in booze from the night before that was spilled on me.”
Cwyk has traveled to many fishing holes to enjoy her sport.
“I absolutely adore Montana, especially within Yellowstone and Glacier national parks,” she said. “The Madison River in Montana, the Snake River in Wyoming, Big Spring Creek in central Pennsylvania.”
“I don’t get to do it very often, but fishing for tarpon in the Florida Keys is incredible, and I try to make it down there annually,” Cwyk said. “They are big powerful fish. I’m also looking into going on a tarpon trip to Tabasco, Mexico, later this year with my wife.”
She finds her own backyard is interesting, too.
“One of my favorite places to fish is in Valley Forge National Historic Park, in Valley Creek,” she said. “All of the fish in there are wild brown trout. The colors are so vibrant. The reds and the deep yellows that you get in this trout are gorgeous, but I’ll fish for anything.”
Cwyk doesn’t cook the fish she catches – she’s strictly a catch-and-release fisherwoman, but she loves to prepare meals, including homemade pasta and lots of vegetarian dishes.
“My dad’s the cook in the family, and I think he really learned to cook from his mother, and I learned to cook from my grandmother as well,” she said. “She loved to make Ukrainian food, which is the food of her parents.”
The name Cwyk, which is pronounced ‘swik,’ is Ukrainian, and means ‘the nail that holds together a log cabin.’
“It was probably a much longer name that was shortened, but that’s what I’ve been told,” she said.
Cwyk is well-known at Moore for her baking skills. In fact, she’s won the Golden Spoon Award --presented annually for the best baked good at the Staff Council luncheon in September -- three years in a row. The trophy is decorated with Cwyk’s own hand-tied fishing flies, and sits on her desk at work.
“You’re supposed to take the Golden Spoon on vacation with you, and update the scrap book with photos of it in those places,” she said. Perhaps the trophy will spend some time on a fly-fishing jaunt to Mexico this year!