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.
Tenkara Community Submitted Content
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.
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.
Mountain Home, Arkansas
In March, Tenkara USA had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Sowbug Roundup “Celebration of Fly Fishing” event. Daniel, Jeremy and I were on hand to represent Tenkara USA and additionally, Daniel also gave a tenkara presentation and a couple of casting demonstrations.
[Daniel’s note: a new podcast episode of the Tenkara Cast, in which the 3 of us sit down and chat about the finer points of the philosophy of simplicity, is now available via iTunes, other podcast apps, or directly at ]
The Sowbug Roundup is a basically a fly tying show with a selected vendor list chosen to augment the content of the event.
It was quite an honor for me to attend and I do appreciate the welcome that the community gave to us. The tenkara vendors did a great job and we made the front page of the area newspaper.
What follows is a few photographs that I took from the event.
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.
Most of the time when I am interviewing or having a written conversation with a person, I ask them for a couple of paragraphs to tell me who they are. I meet Jeremy at the 2017 Tenkara USA Summit and he and his wife are super nice, like all the people that I have meet in Tenkara USA. I knew he was an artist and a family man but beyond that, I did not know much about him. So I asked him if he would pen a brief “about me” so that I could develop a deeper understanding of his interests to develop our Interview.
What caught my attention in his response was not the things that I thought I needed, it was an actual fishing moment describing resting a pool. He brought me there with his words.
I’m excited to have a chance to share a conversation with Jeremy with you as he is an interesting and aesthetic loving individual.
Adam: I’m not sure I discussed the process of these Interviews with you Jeremy so I will do it here. I write the thing in one single whack and send it to you. You fill it out and send it back. When I create the document, I think about the subject and then bring out his or her interests and hopefully get them to build a picture, a interesting inner view of who they are.
Your answer to my request about fishing, spooking a pool and then sitting down and drawing, waiting for the pool to resume it’s peace struck a cord with me. I was taken to one of my own streams, I have been fishing it for 50 or so years. There are distinct pools that always have dinks flitting about chasing flys on the surface. If you approach too quickly, they scatter for the undercut or the log. But if you sit down, have a drink, check your fly, lay back and relax for about 10 minutes or so, the trout slowly come back to their feeding and playfulness.
“You have obviously been fishing for a while so let me thank you for taking this interview and sharing with us a little bit about you.”
Jeremy Shellhorn: Thanks for interviewing me. Yes, I guess I have been fishing for most of my life. I am glad my Dad took me when I was young. My family has always encouraged me to pursue the things I love to do…fishing and design. I am very very fortunate.
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.
It is with a very heavy heart that I must share that a great friend and positive influence in the tenkara community, Doug Heggart, has passed away.
I am absolutely devastated by the news of Doug’s untimely death. Doug was an incredibly generous and kind person. We shared some great times on the water and on dry land. Doug was a super positive individual who was ready to share fishing with all in the community. Doug always showed a tremendous disposition to help; his energy and enthusiasm was always contagious when I spent time with him. I will really miss him, and my heart is with his family.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 19th at 11am at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 434 Main St., Longmont, CO
Things are coming together nicely for the 6th Tenkara Summit, which will take place in Estes Park on September 16th. This year we are counting on the presence of Dr. Hisao Ishigaki and Yvon Chouinard who will be speaking at the event, along with Adam Trahan, Jason Klass, Steve Schweitzer. In addition we’ll be featuring clinics and demos on fly-tying, casting and more. This is promising to be a great event, and we hope to see you all there!
You can register for the Tenkara Summit here.
Further details, such as the schedule, lodging, food, etc, on this page.
This past Saturday I joined colleagues, old friends, and about two hundred potential new friends to clean up Boulder Creek. The crackle of the velcro on my safety vest alerted me that it was “go time.”
Daniel Galhardo and I proudly led a group of volunteers up to the Eben G. Fine Kayak Park near the mouth of Boulder Canyon. This is one of two areas adopted by Tenkara USA (our other location is just a few miles upstream).
As Boulder Creek sees a lot of action, our part in tidying it up is essential. Aside from friendly fisherman it is also frequented by wildlife, quick dippers, rope swing enthusiasts, inner tube travelers (our town boasts a 9-year running “Tube to Work Day”), and as the park name suggests, kayakers. What does this all mean? The possibilities of what we could find were endless.
What comes to mind are those large bins you have to dig through at those post holiday sales, or stealthily navigating a garage sale for that long forgotten treasure. On this particular adventure there were finds a-plenty, including bed springs, and this “like new” bike frame. Oooh, ahh. And though I was not looking for it I found loads and loads of poison ivy (I wasn’t aware of it until the following day). Surprise!
Overall it was a fantastic day with great vibes, and awesome after party at Rocky Mountain Anglers. If asked for any take-home advice, I’d say “Be careful where you step”.
by TJ Ferreira
You ever have the kind of fishing day where nothing seems to go smoothly? On the 1st cast the fly gets stuck in a tree, then a few casts later your fly is lost in a rock snag. Heck just walking to the river seems like an obstacle course where your line gets snagged in tall grasses, stuff rolling out of your pack, bumping your noggin on low tree branches, twisting your ankle, <add your non smooth issues here>. To add insult to injury you just went through all that and forgot something important at your car and need to go back and do it all over again.
Needless to say if someone says this does not happen to them, they are lying. Remember, all fisher-folk are liars. I have been fishing tenkara for well over 6 years now and I know it has happened to me. Bottom-line is we all have days of greatness and in return, we have days when greatness is not so present.
Something I enjoy almost as much as fishing tenkara is watching a dear friend fishing and cheering them on. Just the other day a friend and I made a quick pit-stop on our way down the highway at a fishing hole he had only been once. I myself have hit this spot a number of times and have had some great fishing days there. I really wanted to see him catch a fish here but we only had maybe 20 to 30 minutes.
The funny thing is, as we drove down the highway heading to our destination, we were chatting and I mentioned that just the other day I felt like a bumbling dolt trying to get started fishing for the day. Getting in snags just walking to my spots, casting like crap, of course I could blame it on the bazillion mile per hour wind that was smacking me around. Yeah…. Thats it! The wind is to blame!
I have fished a decent amount this year, enough where not every trip was as smooth as it could have been. It seems to take about 30 minutes to maybe 1 hour before I get settled in and cruising. I told my buddy about that and funny thing, it started happening to him on this day. Was I contagious? So sorry my friend, I promise I did not want you infected.
As expected, within a few casts he was stuck on a tree over a great spot. This is where the Tenkara Cheerleader can step in. Rather quickly, so he did not spook the whole run, I offered him my rigged up Sato. He moved slightly to cast to a new spot and continued to fish. This is where you the reader will say, “and he then proceeded to catch his 1st fish”. Well no, that did not happen. But close.
So we moved onto spot #2 as all the fish in spot #1 had been spooked. We get to spot #2 and oh it looked so fishy. He proceeded to make a few nice casts and them wham…sorry reader, still no fish…he got stuck on a tree again. A few choice mumbles came from this buddy to the likes of “that’s it, lets head out”. I could tell he was a bit disgruntled, as I would be. But as I have aged, I have let more things just slide off my back. I have learned to quickly simmer down and not worry about these things so much as I well know there should be another tomorrow.
I was already in cheerleading mode, and as soon as I saw the snag, my rigged-up Sato became an offering again. I was almost as fast as a gunslinger at a wedding whipping out tissues to crying mothers. The great news…. this time it worked. Within a few minutes he caught 2 trout and the whole mood of the day was saved. It was exciting for me to watch his wonderful casts and set the hook on a couple trout. It was just as pleasurable as if I were the one casting and fishing at that very moment.
My buddy said I was infectious with my tenkara spirit, or something like that, and that remark has helped me to write this story in hopes I can spread this feeling to all. But…. did you know you can also be a Tenkara Cheerleader from afar? Social media these days is owned by the likes of Facebook. I must admit, I am a bit of a Facebook junkie. As much as it can be a time consumer of minutes, I have kept in touch with friends I will probably never see face to face again, older school friends, co-workers I don’t see all the time, and even new folks I have met through tenkara.
I know my day seems to spruce up when I can feel like I am part of their life, but from afar. I enjoy “liking” their posts as much as I enjoy those liking mine. Feels like someone is listening and always seems a like or a comment on a post I made from a friend can spruce up my day. It really is a small gesture but one that can go far. I get a kick out of reading others’ fishing tales, checking out pictures of fish they catch, and make sure to let them know I am here and cheering them on. Sometimes I offer advice and am also happy to take in advice too. Along with participating at tenkara forums by letting folks know you are reading by making a quick comment, or if at Facebook a quick like or comment, you are helping promote tenkara as a passionate sport, one that is inviting and cheering folks on. You just may brighten someone’s day and they will pass that on with their own tenkara goodness. I know I enjoy being part of the tenkara story and you can too by spreading the word of this great method of fly fishing. Come be a cheerleader of tenkara. 3….4…..6…..8…. who do we appreciate? Tenkara…. Tenkara….. TENKARA!
There is a town in the United States where its entire population fishes tenkara. 100% of its people has a Tenkara USA rod! I know it because I just stopped by there last week and got to meet the town’s mayor, who himself is a huge fan of tenkara too.
Although it sits in between several of Wyoming’s famous rivers, it is not one of the West’s fly-fishing destinations. I myself know the town because it is right by a somewhat popular rock climbing destination, Vedauwoo (which is where Scott Hunter got the name for his own fishing pack company, Vedavoo).
That town is Buford in Wyoming. Dubbed the “smallest town in America”, Buford has a convenience store/gas station, and one resident, who is himself the official town’s mayor.
A few months ago I went climbing in Vedauwoo, but arriving there with freezing temperatures and high winds my friends and I decided to drive 5 minutes to Buford and get ourselves some coffee. Unfortunately the store was closed for renovation. Outside sat a silver Toyota Tacoma. Someone in our group noticed a Tenkara USA sticker on its back window, though we couldn’t see its only resident anywhere. If it hadn’t been so windy I would have tried to find out whose truck that was, but that day I decided to get back inside my cozy car.
This last week I was driving back from Utah and just as I came near Vedauwoo I noticed my car was running low on gas and I was starting to run out of water. Conveniently there was Buford’s only business to save me. I got what I needed and then struck up a conversation with the store’s clerk, “Is that your Tacoma with the Tenkara USA sticker, by chance?”
“Yes”, he replied. “I’m a huge fan of tenkara, I love it!”
He turned around to look for something, and a second later produced the third volume of our Tenkara Magazine! He opened its pages to a photograph I instantly recognized, it was the photo and article by Alison Pluda on fishing in Wyoming. I had read it, but it never clicked with me that she was talking about the Buford I had driven by a few months earlier and was also talking about its only resident, Jason.
I jokingly, with a smile, asked Jason if he was also the mayor. He seriously responded that “yes”, he was indeed its mayor. That made a lot of sense, the smallest town is incorporated and of course it has to have a mayor.
We then chatted a bit about his favorite waters in the area, which mostly consist of beaver ponds with lots of brook trout.
I couldn’t stay very long, I had been driving for nearly 7 hours and still wanted to make it home for dinner. I gave him a few more stickers and copies of our magazine which I had in my car and left with the promise of returning soon.
He’s not that far away. He promised to take me to his favorite spots, perhaps on horseback. Plus, where else in America can we have the claim that all 100% of its people, including the mayor fishes with a Tenkara USA rod?
We hope you all enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving and got to go fishing in the last few days. In the last week we gave you a chance to acquire a tenkara rod for excellent prices. We decided to start the sale early so you wouldn’t feel you had to stay on a computer to get the deals. Now, on Giving Tuesday, we want to make it easy for you to generously give something to your friends and family. As the Giving Tuesday website put it, “On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.” In addition to the 1% of our sales that we donate to environmental organizations (and we can attest a lot of money will be donated as a result of this previous week’s sale), we thought the best way for us to get everyone involved today would be with the coupon below. Print it out, give it to a friend and take them fishing.
Our 5th annual Tenkara Summit took place this weekend in Estes Park and by all accounts I’d say it was a big hit. We had approximately 180 participants this year, with nearly 1/3 of that being people who travelled from out of state to attend. We also counted on the presence of two guests from Japan who came to share their experience with tenkara. Mr. Yoshikazu Fujioka came to share his vast knowledge of tenkara flies and Mr. Go Ishii spoke about his experiences fishing in Japan and did a demonstration on casting and approach techniques.
There is a lot to be said about this event. Every year, because of the huge amount of work involved (and the big expense) I think it will be the last time I want to do it. But every year I’m so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many people passionate about tenkara when the Summit time comes. And, I’m so grateful to all the amazing volunteers and support staff who made this an incredible community event. Their help always allows me to contemplate holding more Tenkara Summits. So I’m sure 2016 will see one too.
A huge hank you all those who attended and those who couldn’t be there in person but were with us in spirit, you made it the incredible event it turned out to be. A toast to another incredible tenkara experience. Below are some pictures of the Summit as well as the slide presentation given by Mr. Fujioka, which I promised I’d post on the site today.