By Daniel Galhardo
This blog entry is a transcription from the Tenkara Cast podcast episode “Choosing a tenkara rod, tenkara line, and tenkara flies.” We have had many requests to have the podcasts in this format and are happy to present the first one here. The podcast episode may be found here
Have you ever walked high above a river, perhaps on a bridge or a trail, and while looking down at the water far below steep walls said to yourself, “there must be a big trout in that pool, and I bet no one has ever caught it!” ?
I have walked many such trails, wondering the same thing to myself. The steep scrambles or sheer walls have kept me from reaching most of those fish. But, I have also started taking it upon myself to search for those fish and go catch them. Recently I recorded a podcast episode in which I talk about my “outdoor obsessions”: climbing and tenkara. The skills I have gained through my years of climbing allow me to get to those places where I ask myself whether there is a fish down there.
In the latest edition of the Fly Fish Journal, I recount one such story of chasing big trout in an inaccessible river in Wyoming. If this sounds appealing to you, get yourself a copy of their latest magazine for the story.
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.
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”.
When I first heard the term “flyathlon” I was not quite sure what to make of it. It sounds exciting and definitely piques my interest. As I could not for the life of me recall the lessons I thought I learned my high school Latin class I conducted an on-line search.
The world wide web suggested that “athlon” comes from the Latin for “competition”. Looking up flyathlon directed me to the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon website.
The Flyathlon is a competition comprised of “run, fish, beer”, one runs a course, stops to catch a fish and take a photo of it, and at the end, winner or loser, drinks some beer with other competitors.
For the second year in a row tenkara was present at the Flyathlon in the hands of the Conrad family. Steve Conrad participated last year, and this year brought his son Tony along.
After the event, Steve posted on his Facebook page: “Made it back home after a weekend off the grid running the Rocky Mountain Flyathalon. My oldest son Tony & I run 12 miles caught fish (Tony 1, Me 4) and drank more than our share of beer. I only did one superman that finished in a beautiful tuck and roll. We’re already making plans to return next year. Love it!”
If you want to learn more about this event from Steve, you can hear his conversation with Daniel on this Tenkara Cast episode.
What do you think? Would you take up a challenge involving fishing, running and beer?
In this latest episode Daniel, who has been described as a “rock-climber disguised as a fly angler”, but sometimes as a fly angler disguised as a rock-climber, discusses how he found his two big passions in life, rock-climbing and tenkara fly-fishing, as well as how they fit together and have inspired him to start Tenkara USA. Without knowing where the episode was going to go, Daniel concludes that one shouldn’t dismiss an activity after a quick glance as you may get hooked when you actually try it. And, that some activities are great complements to each other and bring us balance.
Referenced in this episode:
Daniel brings up the newly published book by one of his climbing heroes, Hans Florine: http://onthenosebook.com/
Giveaway campaign: http://onthenosebook.com/contest/ (the Tenkara USA giveaway will be on the week of September 19th).
The Fly Fish Journal with Daniel’s current story on combining climbing and tenkara fly-fishing: http://www.theflyfishjournal.com/issue/8.1/8.1
by TJ Ferreira
Sometimes it takes a nice relaxing camping trip to give my mind respite. A time to look, listen, and learn. Although camping can be a bit of work, the down times are a wonderful way to recharge one’s mind and body.
My wife and I camped this past weekend at a very small and remote PG&E Campground in Northern California. This was one of those “tenkara +” moments for me. The goal of this trip was rest, eat, sleep, talk, wander, listen, look, learn, and sure… some tenkara too.
It is probably true that tenkara never sleeps for me. I mean, I work for Tenkara USA so my job is to talk about tenkara all day long. Not a half bad job. Then comes the weekend and what do I tend to gravitate to? Fishing. LOL! Tenkara fishing that is.
Do you all carry tenkara gear in your modes of transport? I do. I aways have a pack with a tenkara rod or two, lines, flies… the basics. I am always on the ready if I see a pool that entices me or extend my second rod to a stranger inquiring about what I am up to.
This camping trip was no different. I chose this campground as it was near a creek, and I had read it was once a great fishery but has since died off. A mix of California drought and a growing population of otters have made fishing at this creek very difficult. But I knew fishing would be possible so I went prepared.
Upon our Saturday arrival we set up camp. Once done, the wife and I were lazy bones. Never did my mind stop thinking of tenkara. Waiting for that dusk awakening time for my best chances of catching a few trout “in the style of tenkara”, as a buddy of mine Mike Willis calls it. Most the day was spent listening to sounds from the forest, looking at wildlife that meandered by, bugs and flying insects that have no clock and they seem to work 24/7.
I only fished about one hour on Saturday but did catch a nice small wild brown. I was happy as the creek that skunked me a few weeks prior (when I went there on a recon outing). A nice pat on the head and off the brownie went to serve someone else “hello” in the near future.
Sunday was another day of laziness, listening and eye-balling mother nature at its best. Dragonflies on parade, yellow jackets and meat bees hovering around you every time you decide to snack (this is diet control for sure), but all day I was waiting for was dusk. Dusk tonight meant I would hit this creek much harder than the day before.
Mounted up with wet wading gear I hit the creek for two hours this fine Sunday. The creek only yielded me one more brownie, but a little bigger today. This creek was most generous as it tries to rebuild on the past, slowly but surely, even when the odds are stacked against it.
Sneaking like a tenkara angler has to learn to do, I heard some crunching in the weeds near the creek. I stood motionless as an otter swam within one foot from my feet as it worked its way down river. How cool was that!
I could tell the locals in charge of this area are trying to re-grow the fishing here. A few 4×4 posts with survey boxes were at the creek and each night I was proud to fill out a form to tell them thanks. Every day I caught myself a little extra energy boost, that I know will make my tenkara grow even more after this fine trip.
So what did I learn on this trip?… patience for sure. This creek was very poor in quantity but the quality and wildlife were rather spectacular. I went camping to chill with my wife, and that I did. Tenkara + patience was at hand on this trip and for that I am thankful.
Even if one does not catch double digits of fish, remember there is much more to tenkara than just fishing. Look, listen, and learn. Each trip you can bring something wonderful home if you head out with an open heart and open eyes.
Much like a forest that never sleeps, neither does my tenkara. It has become part of my being. I am living tenkara +.
** Remember to listen for new sounds when out in nature. I told my wife that these sounds were made by a Velociraptor: https://youtu.be/LXyfFX3EGAw. Hehe.
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!
by TJ Ferreira
Having just recently turned the big Five O-no, I glanced in the mirror the other day and what I saw what was an aging, graying, balding shell of what I once was back in my 20s and even 30s. I wake every morning with a few more aches and pains, a few less hairs, but I have a purpose in this life so I get to my daily routine day after day.
Where have all the years gone? Time sure does fly! Both sayings you will hear older folks mention as we age. There are days I feel down. There are days I feel up. I am human after-all. But, I tell myself I have things pretty darn good so it keeps me going. And really, 50 is not that old, but sure, I am well past my ½ way point.
The way I look at things, I have another 20 to 25 in the business world working for a living. Another 30 to maybe 40 fishing tenkara, and if very lucky, another 50 on this earth. At least that is what I am praying for.
On Monday I awoke to another normal Monday, one that I happen to have off. Wife woke up around 5:45AM to get ready for work and I dragged myself out of bed around 7:30 to start my day. Now that may seem rather late for some, but I don’t sleep well. I am somewhat nocturnal, go to bead in the AM, toss and turn all night, with a brain that will not shut off I keep thinking of things all night that keep me awake. Needless to say I am not a morning person. I find that I finally doze off around 5AM and although I keep waking every 30 minutes, I feel snuggly in bed and get my best rest in these hours.
So no, I don’t like to wake at 5AM to go fishing. Therefore most my trips I am a solo fisherman, beating to my own time and my own drum. Not on a groups time schedule or have to be there at a certain time. Although, every now and then I enjoy fishing with my friends, and I rather look forward to the friendships I have made over the years getting to know them all. It is rewarding to fish with them, to watch, to learn, and to have fun.
On Monday I fished a High Sierra river in NorCal and it was a great day. Geared up wearing my favorite hat, when I walked up on the river I looked down and saw my reflection in the river. I saw a 25 year old, my legs stronger to take on the rivers current, my arms more precise in their movement back and forth, and my heart pitter patters with a youthful spirit again.
The Rivers Mirror does not lie, it holds many unknowns and rejuvenates an aging heart making it young again, and with every cast, and every trout, I am 25 again.
I caught many many trout on this fine Monday. Too many to count on my two hands. It was a great day and what has become the purpose of my tenkara, to enjoy life with a new spirit every day. Going after the unknown of what lurks under each riffle or behind each rock, makes me feel like a kid all over again, for every fishing trip I am learning something new, just like when I was a years ago.
A long drive home I am welcomed by the howling of my two dogs, happy to see their papa. I stroll in the house and pet each of my 4 cats, and as I walked by the mirror, I saw an aging man, gray hairs, balding, but with a smile on his face, and as happy as one man ought to be. The mirror does not lie. The mirror showed a boyish grin with a beating heart and desire for tenkara, and longing for his next adventure on the River’s Mirror.