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Tenkara with John Gierach

On June 1, 2012
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A young western fly-angler, maybe in his late 20s, walked by us on the Big Thompson River yesterday. He said, “hey”, and then, recognizing the man with the white beard next to me, he casually said, “I really like your writing”.  That was my friend John Gierach.

A few minutes later we walked to the pullout the man had parked his car, next to ours. He recognized the tenkara rods and asked if John has been using it. “Yes, sometimes, for waters like this.” The man said he was familiar with the rods, and his friends have been using tenkara.

It was a good day in the water with Gierach. I was very happy to have fished with him again. When you fish with someone famous, or who lives far away, it is nice to think you’ll do it again in the future, but it is hard to know if it really will ever happen. I had come to Colorado to teach John Gierach and Ed Engle about tenkara in 2010. Subsequently Gierach wrote an article that brought tenkara closer to the mainstream.  I had a terrific time fishing with them, but of course wondered if it would ever happen again. So I was thrilled our schedules matched this time. My wife, Margaret, joined on this trip and we also go to spend time with him and his partner, Susan, just hanging out. The evening included the constant threat of a Mariachi band coming to our table as we enjoyed Mexican food – we chose a table outside to make the threat less real.

The fishing was excellent. The catching a little slow.

As I have been able to fish more and more often, I am also happy to allow myself many moments of conversations with friends when on the stream, or even the momentary contemplation. John and I spent a great deal of time on the bank, talking about writing.

He had some great advice on writing my book on tenkara. I can fish almost anytime, but it’s not often that I get to learn about writing from the master himself, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The most important suggestion he had was probably, “you have to convey the fun in it. If it is not just plain fun, no one will do it.”

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