Essay by: Joel St. Marie
Local water travels from many places on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Small creeks from the headwaters above meander through the meadows, forest, and the high alpine. Icy water runs as the snow melts and is met with the bubbling hot spring water heated by the geothermal cauldron beneath the Earth’s crust. Spring fed rivers snake the open lands of the caldera and carve the deep gorge as it makes its way beneath the table lands and beyond.
I’ve been fortunate to explore the local outdoors on many levels as an outdoor enthusiast; as a climber, biker, fisherman, hiker, photographer, skier and more. Often revisiting the same area multiple times depending on the activity or adventure. The gorge is one of these places I first explored as a climber nearly 25 years ago with one thing on my mind; to climb the steep pocketed cliffs above. The gorge offers miles of exploring other than climbing as well. On bike you are limited to the the few roads that allow access to the gorge. On foot is another option and has its many advantages to exploring this historic destination.
Essay by: Dennis Vander Houwen
Whole wheat bread with a glob of peanut butter on one side and a wash of jelly on the other. PBJ’s never let you down. Adding a banana from the bunch, I grab my water bottle, and load my lunch into my small backpack along with my simple tackle and my Tenkara USA Sato rod and I am out the door. Gone fishing. In about 40 minutes I will see an old friend.
In the car I tap on Colorado Public Radio. Ironically, they are talking about the increase in people taking up fly-fishing in Colorado. It is an interview with a familiar voice, John Gierach. The topic is about the effect of more people taking up fly-fishing than ever before. I have my fingers crossed John will mention tenkara or talk briefly about stream etiquette, but my hopes are dashed. It is still a good interview and he has a new book out that I have now added to my reading list. I shut off the radio. Silence gives me room to think.
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Essay by: Cheri Felix
To be honest, I just started fishing a few months ago. I used to know the exact number of days (it’s been about 60) but that started to get weird. In the beginning, I would go to Boulder Creek twice in one day. I’d go to areas where there are less trees to catch my line on. And then I worked my way up to the more dense areas of the creek.
In the early days, I’d only go with my husband and then gradually I started going solo. I watched the knot tying videos and I tried to actually listen to my husband when he showed me, but I tend to get distracted. Then I realized that in the worst case scenario, I could come home to get another fly tied on if I needed to.
Since then, I’ve cast a wider net (see what I did there?) and ventured to a place below Jamestown and also into Clear Creek canyon and along the I-70 (I know. Sounds so romantic). I’ve learned that tenkara fishing Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t like fishing along the Popo Agie in Wyoming. I’ve tested my patience in Wyoming on a tiny part of the Laramie River and will test it again when we go to Montana in a few weeks.
Living in Lyons, Colorado is a wonderful thing. Walking two blocks to the St. Vrain river to drop a fly in the water is certainly a privilege, and one I don’t take for granted. But the town stretch – like many easily accessible Front Range rivers in Colorado – sees a good deal of pressure, particularly in the summer months. Which means it’s time to head up into the local high country, the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Tenkara fishing to me is inextricably linked with moving through the mountain wilderness. It is so complimentary to hiking and scrambling around in the alpine, it’s almost silly. Here in the Indian Peaks there is an abundance of low volume, high gradient streams full of trout. And then there’s the high alpine lakes. The tenkara lake fishing is phenomenal, and the whole area is tailor-made for this simple method of fly-fishing.
Trip Report by: Brad Trumbo
Dust billowed as my buddy Derek and I traveled an old gravel road through western Augusta County, Virginia. An interesting feature of many streams draining the George Washington National Forest is the myriad small flood control reservoirs which sever wild brook trout streams, isolating populations to the extreme headwaters in many cases. The water behind one such reservoir was our destination.
Many of these reservoirs are well known and stocked with hatchery trout, our destination included. Yet, the volume of fishermen that frequent this reservoir scarcely acknowledges the disguised trailhead leading into one of Appalachia’s wild brook trout strongholds.
Parking under a canopy of sycamore and maple, a lush carpet of jewelweed and poison ivy greeted us, the trail barely noticeable through the greenery. Embarking on the short hike to the river, we immediately noticed brookies darting for cover as we tramped across a shallow riffle. “It’s gonna be a good day!” I remarked, smugly.
If you’re into running, be prepared for some awesome tenkara + running videos we will be publishing in the next few days. If you’re not into running….you may just get inspired to combine tenkara + running after you watch these videos.
Here’s the first one. This film was created by Erica Mellon with tenkara guide Brittany Aäe, who wrote and narrated the story. Brittany combines tenkara fly-fishing and running to access further places and deeper senses and in this film she also shares a beautiful story.
Make sure to have the sound on!
We Thought We Were People – A Film by Erica Mellon
Kauai Trout with the Hane
by Adam Trahan
I enjoy tenkara in far away places, and Kauai has been on my list to for quite some time. Tenkara USA recently released the Hane, a compact and robust tenkara rod; my trip to Kauai would be a great inaugural adventure for mine. As with any far away trip, I planned this one out months in advance, but I knew I would be using this rod as soon as I saw it the first time.
Trout are not native to Hawaii. They have been introduced. There are trout on at least four of the islands, O’ahu, Maui, Kauai and the big island. The original stocking of the streams in Kauai are well documented and were studied over a hundred years ago. At this time, there are at least three streams on Kauai that contain trout. The trout in these streams are “wild” trout naturally reproducing from the original stocking in 1920. At that time, 50,000 rainbow trout eggs that originated from Montana and Utah arrived in Honolulu harbor on a ship that carried them from California. The eggs were then transported to Kauai were they were taken to a hatchery to hatch the trout fry for introduction into the headwater streams of Waimea Canyon.
A new episode of our podcast, the Tenkara Cast, is now available through your favorite podcast listening app, or right here on our website. This time Daniel chats with Chris Johnson about tenkara fishing in Texas.
The biggest tenkara event – ever! – happened this weekend.
The 2017 Tenkara Summit brought together the largest gathering of tenkara anglers anywhere. Just over 300 people from all over the US as well as Argentina, Norway and Japan attended. Attendees enjoyed a great series of speakers, clinics with experienced tenkara anglers (including Dr. Hisao Ishigaki), vendors, and a very fun fly-tying evening that featured a live band as well as tying contests timed to their songs, plus magic by Dennis Michael.
I am still stunned by the participation. In the past Tenkara Summits we had up to 150 people show up. I was fully expecting this year to count on the same number of people, so when I went to pull the final tally I was shocked to see about 240 people registered and another 60 walk-ins. I had tremendous fun meeting so many people in the community as well as spending time with an incredible crew of staff and volunteers that made the event possible.
After a week of taking Dr. Ishigaki fishing around Colorado, hosting our staff and then working at the Summit I will say that I am pretty beat. In fact, I may even take a nap in a few minutes, which is a very rare thing for me to do. But, I wanted to share a little update as well as post some photos from the event. These are photos that some of our crew or myself took; we actually had a professional photographer shoot photos and video at the event but it may be a few days before we get to process and post some of those.
There were several highlights that stood out for me. One of them was once again spending time fishing with my teacher, Dr. Ishigaki. The Tenkara Summit really started as an excuse for Dr. Ishigaki to come fishing in the US; in 2011 he wanted to fish in Montana but said he wanted to speak at an event to justify the trip to his wife. Since there were no events taking place I decided to put the Summit together. It turned out to be a tough week of fishing, with us visiting several different places that didn’t seem to be “on” (I will have to add “river otters” to my “Excuses to use when not catching fish“).
Another highlight was meeting and talking to a large number of people about how tenkara has had a positive impact on their lives. It always gives me a warm feeling when I hear those stories of how people are enjoying tenkara in one way or another, of how sometimes it gave them a different perspective on some aspect of their lives. And I absolutely loved meeting a few young kids who are in love with tenkara and asked their parents and grandparents to bring them to the Summit.
The fly-tying evening was a pure fun part of the event. In the evening the band Paper Moonshine entertained the audience as people tied flies, enjoyed their beers and whiskey, and shared stories or made plans to fish the next day.
The event was recorded in its entirety and we will be posting some of it online in the near future. More photos to come as well.
This video has no fishing in it, at all.
But I thought you would enjoy the video I just created. Yesterday morning, at the last day of our 3-week long book tour, I woke up in the tenkaravan next to a gorgeous forest. Those who know me will remember foraging is right up there with tenkara in terms of things I love doing. As I had coffee I felt inspired to go foraging and to film it all. Hope you enjoy it.
We have been on the road for 11 days now. Margaret and I have been enjoying our time together (we actually celebrated our 10th anniversary on the road last Sunday!). Living the “Van Life” is not glamorous, but we have seen some beautiful country, fished some gorgeous waters and enjoyed a few experiences we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Time has been short, and it is going by fast. I have been working on some videos and photography but it’s been hard to find reliable data connection or wifi along the way, so almost no time for writing and sharing things. I have been good at keeping our Instagram posts going when I find a bar or two of service on my phone.
This morning I turned the tenkaravan into a makeshift studio to record a new podcast episode about living life off the tenkaravan and about our very cool experience fishing for smallmouth bass with the fly-fishing author Dave Hughes and his wife Masako. If you’re interested, below is the episode I just posted (more information referenced in the episode please visit the podcast page.
Yesterday part of the Tenkara USA team (myself, my wife and our husky Shiso) hit the road for the first leg of what I expect to be several road trips in the new tenkaravan. On this trip, which will last three weeks, we’re making stops in Oregon, Washington and then Montana at several different events primarily focused on book signings.
The full schedule and details are kept up-to-date in our events page but for now here are our next stops. I hope to see you at one of these stops.
July 19 – Book signing and Q&A at Central Oregon Fly Fisher’s Club – Bend, OR at 6pm
July 20 – Social gathering and a quick talk + book signing at the Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters, OR 4-7pm
July 21-23 – Tenkara Bugout, Oakridge, OR
July 25 – Book signing and talk at Creekside Fly Shop, Issaquah, WA
July 26 – Book signing and talk at Wayward, Bellevue, WA
Augu 4-5 – Fly Fishing Fair in Livingston, MT
It’s amazing to have looked at our schedule and even with 3 weeks not be able to hit a bunch of other places I wanted to stop by. I have already been getting a bunch of messages on social media about whether we are stopping in other places along the way or other parts of the country, and while we are not at this particular tour it makes me feel that I need to spend more time on the road. These 3 weeks will show whether I’m cut out for the vanlife lifestyle.
We should be easy to spot now, so keep an eye out for us! Yesterday we had the first person come say hi to us right before we drove into the Flaming Gorge/Green River in WY. Soon after we had our first peak at the not-so glamorous vanlife lifestyle…I’ll tell you that story next time I login!
This is the first installment of a new series of blog posts we’d like to bring to you. The Tenkara Guide Spotlight will bring some of the experience and knowledge of the professional guides in our Tenkara Guide Network to the spotlight so we can all learn from tthem. You’ll see a diversity of tackle preferences and techniques used and hope this will help you in finding your own tenkara.
We start the series with Jim Mitchell, a full time fishing and hunting guide form the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana. Jim is a consummate professional and a super nice guy. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with Jim a few times, and always find it an enjoyable and informative experience. His to the point answers give a nice glimpse into the thinking of a professional guide.
Where do you guide tenkara anglers and how long have you been guiding?
I started guiding in 2001 and became an outfitter in 2009. I guide float and wade trips on Rivers and Small streams in Montana.
Do you guide only tenkara or also western fly-fishing?
I guide Western and tenkara fly-fishing.
About how many guide trips and tenkara guide trips do you do in a season?
I guide about 150 client days per season 10 to 20 of those are tenkara
What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of guiding with tenkara?
A few advantages to tenkara are the simplicity and a drag free drift. One disadvantage is casting distance on big rivers and that is irrelevant when tenkara float fishing from a raft.
What are your favorite Tenkara USA rods for guiding on your favorites and are your personal favorites different that what you guide with?
What types of rigs do you fish (i.e. single dry fly, indicator rigs, dry dropper, etc.) ?
I fish single dries, dry dropper, double fly indicator rigs and nymphs without indicators. The one thing I have not tried is streamers
Has there been anything about fishing and guiding with tenkara that has been a surprise to you compared to your initial impressions of the fishing method?
The freedom. It’s nice to leave the big bag of flies and equipment and just take a small pack with a few essentials.
As a guide, what are your thoughts on using few (or one) fly pattern?
It’s fun to do at times, but I am not a one fly guy.
Do you have a favorite fly? What is it?
A prince nymph for the nymph. A Purple Haze for the dry.
Do you have a fly-fishing or tenkara based online blog? What is the URL?
It’s a hunting and fishing blog, but I don’t update it often.
Do you have an social media presence for your services? What are your Facebook or other social media accounts names?
Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/montanahuntingfishingadventures/
I imagine there are many reasons why people fish: to enjoy the great outdoors, to get away from it all, to heal, to think, to improve; the list is truly endless. Growing up in Maine, fishing was something special.
My mother and aunt tell me the most wonderful stories of reading below deck in the heat of summer. The family dog Topsy, kept pépère (my French Canadian grandfather) company while he spent weekends fishing off the side of his boat on the many lakes of Maine.
Several months ago I was devastated to lose my Uncle Al whom I attribute to opening my eyes to fishing. Since this loss I have found it difficult to pick up my rod though I always keep it close by. I remember being a child and feeling so special driving to the Gulf of Maine with the important task of keeping the eels in check (they sloshed around in a bucket on the floor of the car). The Bluefish were running and this was just the treat we hoped to entice them with. This trip is one of my most cherished memories of time spent with Uncle Al.
My tenkara journey began a couple years back, not long after the flood ravaged Boulder Creek. For me it was a time to mend my relationship with the creek, build trust, and reacquaint with all the wonder and beauty it has to offer.
This past weekend I braved the water once again, and under the guidance of a most admired friend, Allie. Allie is tremendous. She’s not only an amazing fly-fishing guide, skilled hunter, and leader of the Rocky Mountain Lady Anglers, she’s also a trusted friend. Living over 2,000 miles away from home can be hard and I have such fond memories of us fishing together on holidays.
With Allie by my side I was happy to find the strength and courage to move forward and honor my Uncle with each cast of my tenkara rod.