Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tenkara, Browns, and a setup for the UL Championship

I really didn't intent to go fishing today. And when the impromptu urge hit me, storm clouds where heavy in the air and the first few patters of rain were hitting my windshield. I had errands to run at the Big W store and I had to pick up a few things from my old house, so I figured that the evening was a wash. (Get it? Raining....wash...... ba dum bum.)

But when I walked out of the old house, the skies were a bright blue, the sun was shining and the storm clouds were almost completely over the horizon. I took it as a sign and decided that the stream at my old honey spot would be just what I need to wash out the bittersweetness I get every time I move more of my things out.

This spot consists of two pools within a 100 yard strip of stream that is plopped right in the middle of a suburban park and next to a high school. Of all the countless times that I've fished this, I think that I can count on one hand the times this section of stream skunked me. It's an understatement to say that she's been good to me. 

I pulled in and opted for the Caddis Tenkara rod(more on why later.) I tied on a #16 bead head nymph pattern and set in an indicator that I've been testing out for an upcoming review(no more on that until later...)

I made the short walk down to the first spot. I looked. Then remembered. Then cursed.

I remembered that I was here sometime last year and noticed that the township, in their infinite wisdom, filled in the single nicest pool in the public access to this stream(in my opinion.) This pool used to be 5-6' deep and held some of the largest trout that would get stocked. This pool wasn't a secret but the depth and currents made this pool very tricky, especially on the fly. Now the deepest parts might come up to my knee, and the water was high from all the rain.

There were a few small trout in the now kiddie pool, so I decided that, well, since I'm here.....

Grumbling a little, I cast in the fly. I noticed that it was not in the water line so it would not drift toward the fish; I immediately recast. Perfect.

Suddenly the indicator snaps back upstream. I dig in and set the hook. I yank the fish 5 feet out of the water  after an impressive display of acrobatics I land the brute. Could have hoped for more, but it is technically my first trout of the season.

After setting him free, I continued to fish for a few more minutes. But it seems that his landing fight spooked the others in the area.

Clouds were gathering overhead and I felt a few drops, so I hopped over to one of the pavilions in the park to wait out the storm. The storms today were only lasting 5-10 minutes so I figured that I would be able to wait it out.

A not quite-rain-but-not-quite-drizzle came down steadily. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen.

Oh, to hell with it. I slipped the iPhone into the inner pocket of my chestpack and resigned myself to no more pictures of bait fish today and went off to the second pool, managing to only slip in the wet grass only once. But I'm pretty sure a bunch of people saw me. 

This is in the very corner of the park so it gets very little fishing pressure, even though you could throw a stone and hit the first pool.  The bank is undercut and some very nice size fish like to lie in there. But please don't tell anyone.

I cast in the same set-up and just like de ja vue the fly didn't hit the water line right so I recast. It was hard to get a good reading from the indicator since it was raining fairly steadily and the drops were making it cha-cha down the current line. It watch it as is slowly slips under the film, then shoots down and starts to go under the bank. I pull back, much gentler this time, and a sudden flash heads downstream.

Fish on! And a beautiful size for these waters. He tries to head upstream. Downstream. Back under the bank. The rod quivers like a plucked guitar string at his every run. Every time I apply pressure and redirect him. I should be getting this on film!

With eye on the fish and one hand constantly changing his course, I start fumbling around my chestpack from my iPhone. This will be great!!

He them turns and starts to fight within reach of me from the bank. I suddenly realize: a) I should get this on video, b) this fish is in a prime spot to bring to hand, and c) both of these things are not going to happen. There would also be a bonus round to see if my phone ends up in a chest deep section of the stream too.

So I quit screwing with the phone and promptly land the fish.

I also took a pic holding the fish up to the rod and later measured the rod. This fish came in between 11.5-12", which is a monster for this stream. That makes this fish a few things for me:

  • The largest fish I pulled out of of this pool.
  • The largest brown that I've caught so far 
  • The largest fish that I've landed with my Tenkara rod. 
So please excuse the pats on the back, but I'm rather happy with the way that getting wet, falling down a hill and getting wet some more played out for me. 

Now for some foreshadowing: I've been wondering lately just how great a Tenkara rod is for ultra-light fly fishing. People say this, people say that, but none of it is definitive or even very scientific. 

Until now. 

Over the weekend I've put the Tenkara rod to the test against my trusty old 2wt. Same waters. Same fly. Same tactics. There are a few more situations that I want to run these rods through before I post my conclusions, but I will say that I have been surprised at some of the outcomes for both rods. 

Stay tuned to see who the Ultra-light Champion will be!

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