Daniel has hit the road to spread tenkara and is currently living the not-so-glamorous “van life” with his wife and their husky. In this episode Daniel turns the tenkaravan into a makeshift studio and records his experience so far. After 11 days on the road Daniel and his wife have hit some cool spots, learned a few things and also fished for smallmouth bass with famous fly-fishing author Dave Hughes.
This is Daniel Galhardo and you’re listening to the Tenkara Cast, a podcast about the simple Japanese method of fly-fishing, tenkara. In the Tenkara Cast, we’ll be sharing information on techniques, history, philosophy, and tenkara stories from anglers all over the world. This podcast is brought to you by Tenkara USA, introducing tenkara outside of Japan since 2009. It’s only possible we create content such as this podcast and videos because of your support, so we thank you so very much for purchasing Tenkara USA rods, lines and flies. I hope you enjoy learning more about this simple method of fly-fishing.
Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of the Tenkara Cast. I appreciate you joining me here. Today, I’m in a very cool makeshift studio, the Tenkara van. I just put some insulation on the windows and closed all the doors. Hopefully, the sound will be okay because I am on the road. I’ve been on the road for 11 days now with my wife Margaret, our dog, our husky Shiso, and myself, hitting the Pacific Northwest primarily. And this is day 11th, early morning. Later today, we’re gonna be heading out into the woods for three days of backpacking with the Adventure Film School, where we’re collaborating with them creating a film on tenkara, or multiple films possibly. We’ll see what happens. And hopefully you’ll see something out of that pretty soon.
But in any case, a lot has happened in 11 days. The main thing is I’ve been kind of learning how to live out of a van. I’ve never done that before. It is the first time. Recently, I acquired a really cool Eurovan, a 2002 Volkswagen Eurovan, and I got the Weekender edition, not the full camper, it’s just a Weekender which has a pop-top, so we sleep up on top at night time. And it does have plenty of space for our dog in a backseat; he claimed that seat immediately upon purchasing the van. And then on the back, we have storage space and that kind of thing. And I got the van for the business because I can carry cargo sometimes, and when I have to carry multiple passengers, like during the Summit, the Tenkara Summit which is coming up September 16th, and I’m gonna have Dr. Ishigaki from Japan, the staff members of Tenkara USA, I can carry seven people in the van. But I can use it for cool things like this like a road trip, the tenkara book tour that I’m doing.
Right now, we are parked outside of Seattle, in the National Forest area. We’ve been camping in this area here for about three… I think this is our third night. Pretty cool area. We got in here… This is a little under half-way through our trip, but I did a presentation with one of the fly shops that we work with in Issaquah, Washington outside of Seattle, Creekside Angling. The next day, we worked with Wayward Angling… Or Wayward Collective, it’s an outdoor kind of store in Bellevue. So I did a couple of clinics here, and then every night after the clinics, we would come back out to the National Forest. And pretty much anywhere with National Forest, you’re free to camp. And the interesting thing about this, I’ve been camping in National Forest lands for many, many years; just love dispersed camping, I don’t have to pay for it, I don’t really need a lot of amenities; I’m pretty good, pretty self-contained, usually, when I’m camping. But this stretch here where we are, I’ve never seen this many campers before in National Forest land, especially the van life dwellers. The Sprinter vans… Almost at every pull-out along this dirt road that we found close to a river has a person camping. Most of them are Sprinter vans, that kind of thing. So that’s just something speaking to the popularity of the whole van life dwelling.
And that’s the first thing I wanted to talk a little bit about today, the van life thing. And then I wanna talk about the fishing that I’ve done, which has been very, very cool, especially fishing for bass, which will be interesting. But in terms of the van thing, very interesting and definitely not as glamorous as a lot of people think. [chuckle] It’s hard living off of a van, especially two people, a dog. And it’s a fairly small van, which is what I wanted. I wanted to have something that I can drive in the city without feeling like I’m driving a huge truck. The Eurovan does a great job of that. It’s very maneuverable, I can park in any parking spot I want, so that’s really cool. But it does have its challenges. We’re learning things along the way. I finally feel like we’re kind of getting the groove of things, of living off of a van for a while.
The other day we were trying to figure out, “Man, we gotta take a shower.” Yeah, we can get a hotel room to shower, but that’s not very good. We actually do have a very cool shower in the van that I bought by Nemo, N-E-M-O. I’ll try to put a link to the shower product. But it’s just a pressurized foot pump and it holds about seven gallons of water, and we’ve used it two times so far to actually take showers, and that has been very handy, but if the temperature is a little cooler, not great. And we don’t use shampoo; we do use a little bit of biodegradable like Dr. Bronner’s if we are camping. We try to take the shower over packed dirt, close to the road and that kind of thing, instead of grass and that kind of thing, so that we don’t have an impact, essentially, on land. But poor Margaret doesn’t… She can’t… I don’t let her use [chuckle] shampoo when we take a shower off the car, so we wanted to figure out a place to take a shower. And we finally learned that oftentimes, the YMCA is a good place for a shower. So we hopped in there, took a nice hot shower the other day.
Throughout the trip, we’ve stayed in a friend’s house outside of Bend for a couple of nights, and that was very handy, but other than that… And then we took one hotel night after we camped for three days. So we’ve had three nights indoors, in a friend’s house or a hotel, and the other eight nights we’ve been camping. And that’s fine, but it’s kinda nice to kinda take or break things up a little bit because we’re doing clinics, we’re actually working. And most of the time, it’s okay to camp, but a shower is handy. So the YMCA was a good place, we called a truck stop nearby here and they wanted $14 per person to take a shower, and we didn’t wanna pay for that. YMCA was free, and that was pretty handy, and I kinda feel like they redeemed themselves a little bit because they messed up our booking for the Tenkara Summit, which forced us to change locations, and I was a little upset at the YMCA. So now I’m pretty happy with them.
The other thing that we ran into a little bit of a challenge was filling up our tanks of water. So both the shower, which holds about seven gallons, and we’re carrying a four-gallon tank of water, not a huge amount, because we’re expecting to be in places that have water. But here in this National Forest area where we are, with the popularity of campers and that kind of thing using the National Forest, the closest campground, which is usually… A National Forest campground is usually where I’d go look for water. There was this very threatening kind of sign saying, “No public use, campers only, no water access, no bathroom access”, and we drove in there one night because we needed to fill up our tank of water; we were running pretty low. And we could see the camp host just peeking through the blinds in his camper. He was close to the only water spigot in the campground. So we just drove out of there without water. And then yesterday, I had to stop at a ranger station to get a permit for a backpacking trip, and they had a spigot there, so that was how we finally found some good clean water. If anybody has advice on how to find good clean drinking water along the road to fill up tanks, let me know. I would love to hear from you. And showers as well. This is a learning experience for us.
The other challenge that we had was our… We took a stop yesterday to go to a dog park with our dog so he could run a little bit off leash, and he decided to roll in some bear poop. Yeah, at the dog park here in the Northwest, there was a lot of blackberries all around the dog park, and I kept seeing scat and I assumed it was bear poop, and he decided to roll in it. So we had to use some of the water that we had left in our shower to wash Shiso. We don’t wanna have a dog full of poop inside the van, that’s for sure. So we took care of that immediately, and then just walked with him a little bit until he dried off and that was that, but definitely challenges, living on the road.
I kinda feel like we got a good system down. And I’m gonna try to make a little video before we end the trip, kinda showing the set-up that we have. If any of you listeners are in the Boulder area, the Upslope Brewery is getting… And Elevation Outdoors are having the Van Life Rally, August 16th, I believe it is, but double check on that, I don’t have the note with me right now. 16th or 17th, but I think it’s 16th. Van Life Rally, a lot of van dwellers are kinda showing up and showing their rigs. We are gonna be there, Tenkara USA, so come on by and check that one out, it should be pretty fun.
And I’m personally very curious, especially after being on the road for a while, to see how people live on the road for more extended periods of time. In any case, the trip has been very fruitful. I’ve been capturing a lot of really cool photography and some pretty decent video, I think. It’s also, besides all the clinics, we are fishing, not as much as we wish. It is very tiring to be on the road, and we’ve been using the hammocks as much as we have been fishing, but we’ve had a few really awesome days of fishing so far.
I would say the highlight of my fishing, actually, we’ve had a little bit of fishing outside of Bend, and in Fall River. And then we had to… Oh, almost forgot the Tenkara Bug-Out, that was a really fun event put out by Jim Vandergrift in Oakridge, Oregon. So our first stop was Bend, and then we did the Tenkara Bug-Out in Oakridge, two and a half days almost of fishing and camping. And we did some really good fishing there on the… Now, I’m gonna forget the name. In any case, really close to Oakridge. I forget the name of the… North fork or the middle fork of something and it’s escaping me. Sorry about that. Crystal clear water, big mountain streams, very wide, but very much a mountain stream, so we fished there for a couple of days.
When we left there, I would say the highlight of my fishing so far was to connect with the famous author, Dave Hughes, and his wife, Masako, for some tenkara fishing for smallmouth, and that was very cool, a very new experience for me. I’ve never fished for smallmouth in moving water before. So we went to the John Day River in Oregon, some lower stretch of it that Dave had access to, and we… I just reached out to him and he happened that he was available, and he wanted to do a little project there, so we went bass fishing. And we get there, and the John Day, it’s very much like a mountain stream or maybe a larger mountain river. It has all the characteristics of a mountain stream. It does feel like we’re in higher, like higher desert elevation. There’s these beautiful bluffs all around us. I very much felt at home in terms of the kind of habitat that I usually fish, but we were targeting bass and I had never done that before.
I didn’t have any bass flies with me, so we started off with the tenkara flies, but they were definitely not producing as much as a couple of Dave Hughes’ patterns that he had for bass. So we borrowed a couple of flies from him and then we had a blast. We caught tons of fish. The bass really wanted the more terrestrial-looking flies, like Chernobyl Ants and some kinda like large sculpins, I don’t recall the name of some of the flies, but he did send me a photo of the main fly that produced for us that day and I’m gonna post that at tenkarausa.com/podcast on the podcast link for this particular episode on the van life and smallmouth. So I’ll put a photo and the recipe that Dave shot me on that page, so if you wanna check it out. But he did say, even though we caught a good number of bass, he did say that we didn’t catch as big bass as usually he does in that stretch. And he also thought that the bass were being a little bit pickier than usual. So we were getting a lot of good drifts, a lot of good plays on the fly without getting strikes, and he said that that’s usually not the case. They tend to be a little bit more aggressive, a little bit less picky.
In terms of the gear that we used for that, we all stuck with a Ito, it was a bigger river, so we wanted to use a longer rod, so I setup Ito for all of us, Dave has a Rhodo and an Iwana, he didn’t have the longer rod, so I let him and Masako use that one, and they really enjoyed it. Dave was also using a longer, like a fly line, in that case, that he had set up just to experiment with. Very, very heavy, it worked okay in there, but I was just using the typical level line, but I did have to go longer, like 18, actually almost 20 feet of line, four feet of tippet, so that I could cast on the other banks. Usually that’s where we’re catching most of the fish. Not all, we caught plenty of fish close by, but I was using a longer line with a very long rod and a larger fly.
And the other thing, too, like the bass, like we caught plenty of fish on dead drifts, but they also did seem to like a little bit of twitching on the fly, so just kinda showing the bass that the fly’s alive and maybe let it drift down a little bit.
I’m gonna create a video soon here, I got some really good footage of Dave fishing for bass and a little bit of him speaking about his rig and that kind of thing. So keep an eye on our blog page, and on Facebook for Tenkara USA, for this video on smallmouth bass fishing in a mountain stream or a mountain river. And I think you will enjoy what I post there.
So that’s when we fished with Dave and then I’ve been here in the Issaquah-Bellingham National Forest area for a few days. We’ve done a little bit of fishing on the Snoqualmie River, which is running really close to where we were. The water is very, very low, so usually, when the water’s very low like this, we’ve been targeting just the deepest kind of pools that we find. We’re not finding the typical kind of… There’s plenty of them, but not as many of the typical kinda like little runs with breaks in the current. So we’re targeting more of the slower waters and catching some beautiful, I think, wild rainbows. And not a huge abundance of them, but to be honest, we have not fished the whole lot yet. As I mentioned a little bit earlier, van life is kind of tiring. We’ve done a couple of events, we’ve had to connect with a couple of people, and we’ve also spent a lot of time, a good chunk of time setting up hammocks and just taking naps as well. And that’s been a very good thing that I’m very happy that I brought along the hammocks.
But in any case, that’s just a little update on the living the van life, a little bit on the smallmouth bass fishing. The next… So we’re in this area for a few more days, as I mentioned, working on a film with the Adventure Film School. We’re gonna be backpacking from today through Sunday. And then after this, the next destination that we have is gonna be the Fly Fishing Fair in Livingston, Montana, and that’s gonna be August 4th and 5th. And if you’re in that area, we’d love to see you there. We are gonna spend a couple of days in the Bozeman Livingston area, but Friday, August 4th and Saturday, August 5th is kind of our next public stop, if you will. I’d love to have you join us there.
Coming up soon, just another announcement, I mentioned it already, but it’s worth mentioning again, September 16th, we’re having our sixth annual Tenkara Summit. That’s gonna be held in Estes Park at the Event Center. If you go to tenkarausa.com/summit, you’ll find the information about that, but it’s promising to be a terrific event. We are expecting from 150-200 people. We do have a couple of very exciting speakers this year, we have Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, big tenkara enthusiast, we’ve invited him to come and speak. Dr. Ishigaki again is flying from Japan to participate, and he’s gonna be doing their demonstrations and talking at the summit. We also have a good cast of speakers including Adam Trahan from Tenkara Fisher. Now, we also have Jason Klass speaking, Matt Sment from Badger Tenkara is coming and speaking as well. So a lot of good speakers, and we also have Steve Schweitzer kinda giving us the lay of the land for fishing around Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, which is, if you’re planning to come, pick up his book, Steve Schweitzer’s Fly Fishing Guide To Rocky Mountain National Park or to Indian Peaks. He’s got two books now where he talks about fishing in that region.
In any case, that’s it for today, just a little update on The Tenkara Cast, the van life. Take a look on the podcast page, tenkarausa.com/podcast for more information about some of the stuff that I talked today, and to stay in touch with us, definitely visit our Facebook page, Facebook Tenkara USA and hopefully we’ll connect with you on the road. I have been getting a lot of questions of people, like whether we’re going through this region or that, and the one thing that has been amazing to me is that even with three very exhausting weeks with almost every day having packed stuff, we are hitting very few places. So thank you so much for all of you who have sent questions whether we’re going through your town or your area. This time, we’re really kinda hitting Bend, the Oakridge thing that we did, this Seattle kind of area, and then Montana, but we’ll try to make more road trips and/or more events. Take a look in our events page tenkarausa.com/events to stay up-to-date on different things that we’re doing along the way. And not only on this trip, but in future trips as well. Thanks so much for listening, and I hope you enjoy a great weekend of fishing.
Thank you very much for listening to the Tenkara Cast. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Nick Ogawa, also known as Takenobu. Check out his music at takenobumusic.com. We’ll be posting links to any references we made in this podcast, such as Takenobu’s music, on our website www.tenkarausa.com/podcast. And until next time, on the Tenkara Cast.