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October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

As we evolve, we'll break the topics into more specific categories. For now, miscellaneous will do.

October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby Adam Trahan » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:18 pm

Tenkara USA is putting on a writing contest!

The theme of this contest will be: "Tenkara Fishing with Friends"

Write a short story and if you desire, include one or two pictures and post it as a reply to this topic.

It's that easy.

No questions, just follow the rules and post your entry as a reply to this topic.

At the completion of the contest time frame, we will judge the entries and announce the winner here.

Your story will be yours but we retain the right to publish throughout the Tenkara USA media.

The contest will run until October 31st, 2017.

The prize will be your choice of a Tenkara USA rod in the "Shop Tenkara: Rods" tab.

Please make sure you read the below instructions.

1. Write a short story with no more than two images.

2. Post your single entry as a reply to this topic, include the images in the story post.

3. One entry per person, user login account.

4. Make sure you post on or before October 31st, 2017.

We will announce the winner in the first week of November, 2017.
Adam Trahan
 
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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby FallfishTenkara » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:08 pm

Tropical Storm Kompasu

It was a sweltering August evening and the rain was coming down in buckets. Tropical storm Kompasu had slammed into the west coast of Japan with a vengeance; just in time for the camping and tenkara trip with my very good friend Kado-san. Our plan was to meet at his cozy outdoor shop once it had closed, pack up his new Subaru Forester, and hit the road after the Tokyo rush hour traffic had subsided a little. However, Kompasu had not figured into our plans and I was beginning to fear we would have to postpone the trip.

“Alas, we will just have to discuss our options when I get to the shop…” I muttered to myself as I flipped my windshield wipers to the highest speed.

Kado-san’s shop was located on the edge of a neighborhood that was referred to as the “Honch”. Practically every shop in the Honch either served alcohol, food, massages, or all three - and there was a smattering of modestly dressed “ladies of the night” on every street corner mixed in for good measure. Even my friends outdoor shop had a bar in the front - albeit his bar was a classy joint. With only five seats, the bartender Masa-san served up exquisite sakes, bear meat from Hokkaido, boar meat from Kyushu, smoked Amago from Wakayama, and sansai from the Japanese Alps.

Even with my windshield wipers going full speed I could barely see out my windshield. The narrow street, lit up by neon signs and Christmas tree lights, was barely wide enough for my tiny Kei van. That did not stop the scooters, piloted by men and women wearing large ponchos, from zipping by me though, narrowly dodging pedestrians crossing the street without looking.

“I am glad my friend is driving tonight.” I said to myself as I pulled up in front of Kado-san’s shop/bar.
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After a brief discussion, we decided to proceed with the trip as planned despite the tropical storm because Kado-san was convinced that the rain would subside once we reached the other side of Japan. So, we packed up his car and I went and parked my little van. I thought the rain was bad in the Honch, but it was on a whole other level in Tokyo. With 5cm of standing water on the roads I made sure to express my gratitude to Kado-san for having purchased an AWD Subaru instead of a lesser car. The traffic was light though and since scooters are not allowed on the freeways we did not have to worry about banzai maniacal mini crotch rockets zipping around us - which made the drive just a little less stressful.

Around midnight we reached the famous eleven-kilometer long tunnel on the Kan-Etsu Expressway, and it was still raining pretty hard. Once we reached the other side of the tunnel though it was as if we had been transported to another world. Not only had the torrential rain stopped but the moon was out and the sky was filled with stars. My friend Kado-san was right! We got off the highway and drove deep into the mountains on roads that weren’t on Google Maps. Around 0200 we turned in to catch a few hours of sleep before the sun would brighten up the sky enough for us to wet our flies.

The sun rose barely two hours later and normally I would be pretty tired after only getting two hours of sleep - not today though. We had camped on the shoulder of the road only one hundred meters above the river we were going to fish, and I was beyond giddy to get down there. I had brought a lot of rods with me on the trip, but for today I chose to travel light with my trusty Ito. I really like this rod, which is no surprisehttp://www.tenkara-fisher.com/2017/03/tenkara-usa-ito_31.html - it is a perfect rod for the medium to small sized not too bushy water we were going to fish that day. After a quick breakfast, we descended into the valley and right away we were into some nice sized Iwana. After a few hours, the sky got darker and darker. We had foolishly thought we were clear of Kompasu, but she was not finished with us yet. The rain that fell that morning was biblical. In fact, I had only seen it rain that hard once or twice when I lived in Maryland. Maryland thunderstorms are no joke! It rained so hard that traffic came to a standstill on the freeways and my yard turned into a lake. Kado-san and I sought shelter under a cedar tree and contemplated the impending flash floods and a hasty retreat out of the narrow valley. However, after twenty minutes or so the rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun and the sun poked through the clouds. With a watchful eye on the sky we continued fishing for a few more hours, catching so many fish we lost count.
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That night we dined on smoked Iwana, ramen, and too much wine while the camp fire roared and the mosquitos voraciously dined on our exposed skin. It was a truly wonderful trip made all the more better by hungry and plentiful fish and above all good company.

As I recall this store to digital paper I can still recall the sound of the crackling fire, the tug of a fish on my line, and the pitter patter sound of the rain against our tarp. While it was over two seasons ago now I will always recall that tenkara camping trip with my very good friend Kado-san with fond memories.
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Contest Entry: Vladimir_Bushclyakov

Postby Adam Trahan » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:46 pm

ed note: In the spirit of goodwill, I am entering Vladimir's entry for him as he is having trouble uploading.

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"June 25, 2017 Russia, Murmansk region, the Akkimono river. Four fans of TENKARA arranged the first meeting-fishing. We met, exchanged experience, we caught fish. Thus, a club of fans of TENKARA Murmansk region was born."
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Adam Trahan
 
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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby anarath » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:42 pm

I just recently discovered Tenkara when my brother and long time fishing partner told me about it. We were both already heavily invested in spinners and casting gear so we decided to go the cheapest route possible and buy the Uxcel rod off of Amazon. Our reasoning for this was that we would be able to learn how to cast and work the Tenkara method without having to worry about destroying a beautiful rod like something from the Tenkara USA lineup. When the rods arrived we discovered that they were very flimsy and cheap(no surprise) but once we extended them and did a few practice casts we decided that they were usable. It was late in the day so we couldn't go to our honey holes, Which are all relatively deep in the Mt. Hood National Forest, so we decided to fish a small creek by our house called Johnson Creek. The creek is heavily polluted because it runs through several cities but there are many conservation and rehabilitation efforts to restore the creek. There is also a steel-head run that goes through the creek every winter but the water is always too high and fast for anyone to fish. This September was very hot and dry for Oregon and the creek was low and the water was warm. We could see small trout no longer than a few inches but we knew the water in this spot could not support much bigger fish. I rigged up my pole with a small light colored dry fly that I purchased because it was the closest fly I could find in the local fly shop that resembled a Kebari Fly. I used a 12ft braided line and a few feet of 5x tippet. My first few casts I got stuck in surrounding vegetation but luckily I was able to get loose. After about 10 minutes I was casting great and I was able to put the fly exactly where I wanted it. It felt so natural that I couldn't believe it. My brother decided that he was going to fish the shallower water downstream and try and get the smaller trout. I elected to stay where I was because it was the deepest part of the stream and I had seen a fish jump as we were hiking down. As soon as my brother left to find his own spot I cast directly under a tree next to a log. Instantly something grabbed my fly and pulled it under. I set the hook on reflex and to my surprise I had a fish on the end of my line. I did what the youtube fisherman did and I pulled the rod backwards and straight up. Before I knew it I had a 6" small-mouth bass at my feet. My brother took a picture and I unhooked the fish(perfect hook in the lip) and released it back into the creek. From that moment on I have been obsessed with Tenkara fishing and I will never forget the memory of how I caught a fish the first time I used the Tenkara method in a creek that most people think is dead. My brother and I are now researching better rods, preferably something that can catch salmon as well as trout and we can't wait to fish our favorite streams using this amazing method.
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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby deanwprice36@aapt.net.au » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:55 am

AWESOME BIRTHDAY
A couple of years back I flew down for a trip to meet up with my friend Mark who was good enough to take some time off work to go on a camping trip for a few days to do some trout fishing. It so happened to fall on my birthday that we decided to do some exploring and on a hot tip from the nice lady who worked at the local café we headed to find the recommended mountain stream.
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Mark who was new to trout fishing couldn't believe that there would be fish in such a narrow shallow stream. I on the other hand was licking my lips and it wasn't long before I had a small beautiful brown trout in the net. We had been using walkie talkies to communicate as we fished at different parts of the stream. I called him to tell him that I had caught one. Mark asked me to keep the fish for him as he enjoyed eating fresh fish on the open fire.
Mark had started to collect the fire wood for the upcoming night.
I was starting to get right into the fishing jumping from large rock to rock to cover more water. I came to a large rock that was slightly more of a challenge to cover the distance. I counted to 3 and held my breath, made the rock and my walkie talkie radio popped out of my pocket and landed in the water never to be recovered. I guess it was a silly move but taking risks is what we fisherman do especially when it comes to the possibility of hooking the next fish.
I soon became tired jumping from rock to rock and we decided to head off for another fish downstream before we got back to camp anyway. I only managed another hook up in between the many bites, the fish flicked off the hook at my feet. Not catching many fish was OK because there was no pressure to catch fish in numbers.
I guess this day was a perfect day as it was good to just hunt and gather in the forest air, the fishing was challenging and the stream was made for tenkara. Is there anything better than fishing tenkara without the weight of the pressures of the world upon you? Where one can just feel great again.
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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby troutsider » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:01 am

-Is it very far from here?"
This was maybe the second or third time she asked, and my answer was rapidly getting old;
"-No, just around that bend and a little more.." in the most positive tone I could.
She sighed, but with a smile.

We were hiking along a small forest road and soon came to the trail that followed the creek up the little mountain. Up until now I had never taken another soul up here, but I was thrilled when she decided to come with me.
This was both a nice outing in the spring sun and an attempt to show her why I spent so much time in these woods.

The place itself is not unique, there are countless woodland creeks like it in this country. Flowing through pine and spruce, through mosses, bogs and blueberry bushes.
Its picture is as swedish as a plate of meatballs and mashed potatoes.
But it's also a stetch of a creek I've come to know and love, for its beauty and spotted inhabitants.

She found a soft patch of moss where the sun could reach her and I started making my way upstream. The brookies were home today as well.
My girlfriend finished her lunch, which would "probably be today's highlight" according to her. Jokes aside, her attitude was understandable because her experience of fishing before this day was "throwing a bait out and wait in boredom", to use her own words.

After not much instruction at all, she started fishing and focusing on the line for any indication of a bite.
Her determination and focus surprised me as I sat there and tried to figure out where she had learned those moves, and over all approach to what she was doing.
But then again, this is something that lies within the tenkara DNA, and in minimalism itself. If you don't clutter a person with gadgets and whatnots they have to rely on their instincts and just go with it.

And she sure went with it.
There she was, hiding behind trees, keeping a low profile and not once taking her eyes off that line.
Dead drifting a kebari in a pool where you actually need to have your sh*t together in order to catch a fish.

Soon enough the drift was interrupted buy a taught line and before I could say anything she had already set the hook.
"FISH!" she yelled already speaking the universal language for when a piscatorial creature is pulling at the other end of your line.

We released one this little creeks jewels together, and nothing else needed to be done that day. Her smile and excitement told me everything I needed to know.
'Yeah babe, this what it's all about'.

That smile of hers is one of, if not the most important things in my life. As long as she wears it there isn't a trouble in this world.
And now she wore it because of tenkara.
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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby brooks » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:21 am

My buddy Andy and I had a free weekend in July of 2014 and we were itching to get into the mountains. We both needed to recharge for a couple of days and set our sights on a string of alpine lakes on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Up in the rarefied air of the high sierra, the lakes were just a few hours drive from Los Angeles but a world away from the urban chaos and congestion.

We’d heard rumors of trout and decided to make this a fishing trip. I’d done a little fishing with my father as a kid, mostly bait fishing and some western fly fishing. In the course of researching ultralight backpacking I’d stumbled onto tenkara and bought a rod and line. It sounded like a great way to augment my limited trail meals with a little bit of protein I didn’t have to carry in on my back. A means to an end. For me, this trip would be a way to try tenkara before committing to it on a longer section hike of the nearby John Muir Trail. Andy didn’t care much about tenkara at the time, but wanted to try out his 9’0” 5wt western fly rig - with about the same goals in mind.

After blasting across the Mojave on Saturday morning we stopped in Lone Pine for supplies. We visited the local fishing shop for some fly selection advice from the elderly proprietor shortly after he opened. Then it was on to the local grocer for instant stuffing, instant oatmeal, instant coffee, and Clif bars. As an afterthought, I remembered a blog post Daniel had put up on the TenkaraUSA site about kotsuzake, a ritual concoction of warm sake with roasted trout bones soaked in it, consumed to honor the fish after eating it’s flesh. Since the plan was to eat at least one of the fish we hoped to catch, I suggested we needed sake. Andy agreed, but Andy usually agrees whenever there’s alcohol involved. The only bottle of sake in the store was a pretty rough junmai with a thin layer of dust on it. Sold!

At the trailhead we sorted gear and met a pair of climbers heading into the backcountry. They were after a high sierra alpine route on a remote peak, one of the classics, and I felt a pang of jealousy. But we were going fishing, damnit! We offered them some of the sake we had leftover after decanting it into a lighter bottle for the hike, and they accepted. Who doesn’t like cheap sake on a Saturday morning before a long hike with heavy climbing gear?

We made good time hiking up the two miles and 1,200’ of elevation gain. The trail paralleled the creek tumbling out of the lakes above and cut up through a sparse ponderosa forest with a carpet of lupine and leopard lilies. Huffing and puffing, we got to the first of the string of lakes. At 10,400’ elevation, it looked like a large infinity pool overlooking the desert of the Owens Valley below and the White Mountains beyond. This was just what we needed. To sweeten the pot, we could see trout cruising the clear, shallow water at the lake’s edge. Of course, high sierra trout tend to be quite small because of the elevation and long winters, but these looked like trophy fish to us.

Tempting as it was to dig out our gear and get to fishing, we decided to hike on and investigate the other nearby lakes. The next lake over was smaller but also had trout circling the shallows and a couple of folks fishing for them from the shore. We nodded to them as we hiked over a ridge and on for a half mile or so to the next lake over. To our surprise, this lake was devoid of fish, but absolutely lousy with small backpacking tents around it’s periphery. Perhaps due to the absence of fish it was full of tadpoles and frogs croaking away as the afternoon wore on. We wondered why this lake was the one full of campers, particularly with the the cacophony of the frogs. Oh well, time to get back to that first lake and see if we couldn’t catch some of those beautiful trout.

We hiked back quickly and unpacked our gear. We had the lake to ourselves. As I was telescoping my 12’ Iwana and tying line to lillian, Andy brought out his rod tube and realized he was missing the middle piece of his 3 piece rod. His rod was useless without it. I offered that we could trade off with my gear while he cursed at himself for not packing more carefully. He entertained the idea of hiking back down to the car to look for the missing section, but thought better of it this late in the afternoon. Fine, we’d trade off.

Knowing very little about fly fishing and nothing at all about nymphing (not that we had any nymphs), we couldn’t interest the fish even mildly in our offerings. We tried a few different flies; elk hair caddis in a couple of sizes, a black ant pattern, and finally a mosquito our elderly advisor back in Lone Pine had assured us would work. All to no avail.

Then a funny thing happened. Almost at once the fish started rising in the last 30 minutes before dusk and the lake surface slowly roiled from shore to shore. Just as we were about to pack it in we were getting bite after bite, bringing fish after fish to hand. We would each catch a couple of fish and trade the rig back, giggling and hooting for each other like a couple of children. By the time the sun set and the fish settled the mosquito pattern left on the end of the tippet was dogeared and dull. We had three fish we decided to keep, a brook, a brown, and a second brown that had been so badly foul hooked that it wouldn’t have survived anyway.

We made camp, cleaned the fish, and cooked them “shioyaki style,” grilled in sea salt over a small camp stove. The fresh trout was amazing, and the kotsuzake afterwards was tasty despite the quality of the sake. We slept under the stars that night with bellies warm from the sake and still with the lake to ourselves. In the morning we made our instant breakfast of coffee and oatmeal and broke camp while grumbling about having to return to our claustrophobic city lives.

On our way home we made one last stop at a spot that we both had meant to visit for years, Manzanar National Historic Site. Manzanar, now a part of the National Park System, was one of ten internment camps where Japanese American citizens were incarcerated during World War II (https://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm). Apparently the prisoners at Manzanar had a surreptitious fishing club as a way to combat the boredom and oppression of their internment. In the early days of the camp they tied bent needles with silk thread lines onto willow poles to fish for trout in the streams coming down out of the sierra nearby. Though they didn’t call it tenkara, it was very similar to the fishing Andy and I had done in the headwaters of those same streams the day before.

Andy and I returned home excited about tenkara, our new method to combat the chaos and congestion of Los Angeles.

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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby Adam Trahan » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:02 pm

Hey brooks, you won the contest!

Please contact TJ or John by sending them a message from your account here at the forum. They will assist you in your choice of the contest prize.

Thanks you to all that took the time to write a story and enter. I read and enjoyed each entry very much.

We will run another contest soon so stay tuned!
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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby brooks » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:24 am

Wow, Adam! I never win anything! I'm stoked!

Thank you for putting on the contest; I really enjoyed the exercise of remembering and writing about that trip. The best part, though, was reading the other entries. What an amazing, diverse, and global community we have here in tenkara.
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Re: October 2017 Tenkara USA Story Contest!

Postby Adam Trahan » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:33 pm

Well you can't say that anymore.

TJ told me what rod you chose, nice one, I really like it.

I hope to read more of your stories.

Again, congratulations and good luck with that new rod.
Adam Trahan
 
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