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
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!
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.
Last Friday I flew to La Crosse, WI, the heart of the famous Driftless region of Wisconsin. I came to the area to participate in the Midwest Tenkara Fest, organized by Badger Tenkara. This was my first time fishing in the area. And, although the Driftless had been on my radar for many years, it took me a while to get here. It was a phenomenal region to fish and I already can’t wait to return. Tenkara is made for the Driftless, where good presentations and drag-free drifts are the key to catching trout.
A few days before coming to the Driftless I received an email from fly-fishing author Jason Randall who had learned I would be in “his area” at the same time he and Ed Engle. Jeremy Shellhorn and I were planning to camp around here anyways, so we decided to camp with Jason and Ed. On Friday we fished the stream that ran by the camp.
I absolutely loved that stream. In a very short distance the spring-creek changed from looking like a mountain-stream to a slower meadow water, to typical limestone spring creek. Despite the rain earlier in the day the stream was running very clear.
Although the stream we fished is no secret, there is no need to mention specific stream names here. The Driftless regions has over 500 miles of publicly accessible trout streams, so you wouldn’t have a problem finding waters.
Another very cool thing, as is usually the case when fishing for trout in different areas, was the coloration of the brown trout we were catching. More specifically most of the trout we caught had a red coloration on their tail and a well-defined red mark on their adipose fin. It was fun to notice that when Ed Engle pointed it out.
After fishing for some time and getting my own fishing fix, it was time to get Jason Randall to experience tenkara. He had been out with someone before, but they really just fished it like a fly rod. I talked to him about the differences in the way we normally fish with tenkara, just as keeping the line off the water for better presentations. Shortly after his first couple of casts Jason hooked into trout, and then caught a few more.
That’s the thing about tenkara, when it is fished “the tenkara way” it will hook even the best anglers into its advantages; but if it is just fished like a western fly-rod then there is little to keep them using it.
Then Jason turned his buddy Tom into tenkara. Tom was just a tad skeptical about it to begin. After Jason caught some fish he insisted Tom try it. I hiked down to where Tom was and gave Tom the rod. On his first cast he hooked a trout, and immediately exclaimed, “I like this”. And thus we had another convert.
Of course, Jeremy also hooked a bunch of trout that day. And, of course, the big one got away. After dinner and before it got dark, Jeremy went back to the water close to us and caught some more fish to cap the day. Then he hooked what would likely have been the largest fish of the day, he played it well but the hook eventually came off. Well, here is a video of one that didn’t get away.
I have to go visit a supplier in a minute, and then catch a flight, but will see about posting some more information on the Driftless later. On Sunday we got to fish with tenkara guide Mike Warren and also Matt Sment in a completely different kind of stream. You can see a short video I made on Mike’s guide page here.
Many have noticed the cover for my new book spells tenkara out in lower-case, and a couple of people have already asked if that was done on purpose.
YES! Good eye!
I made a very deliberate decision to have tenkara written in lower case on the cover of the book, as well as throughout the book whenever I discuss the method of fishing. I see the word Tenkara with upper-case in many blogs and magazines. But, you see, tenkara is not a proper noun; it is a simple noun, like “fishing” or “fly” and it shouldn’t be capitalized. However, tenkara can become a proper noun when discussing a brand, like Tenkara USA.
I’d make the case that one should write tenkara in lower-case when discussing the method. Although I suppose we could just choose to end up with our own version of fly-fishing, flyfishing and fly fishing and never be certain which is the correct one (I always write it fly-fishing).