It has been more than a week now and I’ve had a chance to digest my experience at the Tenkara USA 2017 Summit. Meeting Daniel, Margaret and the rest of the crew, my dream had become real. So many years I’ve been assisting people to learn tenkara and now, I am with the company and helping the person, the company that got me started.
I was a part of the Summit, now, part of Tenkara USA, one dream realized and another just beginning.
Flipping through the hundreds of photos I took, the one above is my favorite. All those rods bought by this couple, destined for tenkara fishing. I stopped them as they walked across the convention center floor, “can I take your picture?” Those rods will be gifts for the holiday season. Perhaps some will be used as a first rod, all I can think of when I see this picture is that Daniel is like Johnny Appleseed…
The Summit opened up with a dedication to Doug Heggart. Doug had recently passed and was a big part of the Colorado tenkara scene. I wish I was able to get to know him but he was well represented and many spoke of his kindness.
As I moved around the hall taking pictures, I had a pretty good idea on my own just how large Tenkara USA had grown the Summit. I counted chairs, 12 wide, ten deep on each side of the isle. There were several 10 seat tables, most were filled, it was 300 or so people attending.
Daniel began telling the story and I looked around the room, everyone was listening, paying attention carefully. I had been dreaming of this moment for a long time, two years since the last one and it seemed like the time just flew by.
The rod line up was there, rods for sale and many were now into the hands of young and old, new and experienced tenkara anglers. The rod on the left was a new version of the old Hane, the Hane 2, quite a departure with its white color, petite foam grip and soft tip.
On September 16th, 2017 over 300 people watch Mr. Yvon Chouinard talk about the threats facing our planet and more specifically our rivers. He argues that we “protect what we love” and that “we need more people to love rivers”, and the best way to do that is through tenkara. Here’s his full presentation where he talks about the environment as well as his approach to tenkara.
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.