Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Listen To Chris Stewart

Chris Stewart taking a break
Recently, I finally had the chance to go fishing with Chris Stewart of TenkaraBum fame.  Chris and I having been trying to coordinate a fishing trip together for virtually the entire trout season.  I generally fish alone but earlier this year I missed a few great opportunities to fish with some fellow Tenkara anglers who were visiting the east coast but I was determined to get at least one trip in before the end of the year with Chris. 

West Branch of the Croton
So after a few e-mails back and forth the next thing I knew he was introducing me the West Branch of the Croton at the northern end of Westchester County  north of NYC.  After some introductions and some gear set up we were off "leap-frogging" one another upstream from Drewville Road.  I don't know what fly Chris started off with but he had some success from the start landing maybe a half dozen wild browns.  I chose to begin the day with one of my Bubble Kebari's.  I hit the jackpot right off the bat hooking up with a number of "rock-fish" and "leaf-fish."  Then I promptly lost several of my flies (I hate losing flies!).

One of the larger offending "rock-fish" of the day
As far as brown trout go....I had exactly two bites for the first hour.  After a while Chris and I met up and took a quick break.  After some chit-chat he handed me one of his killer bugs, which I politely declined.  I then reached into my bag and showed him my fly box which had a number of them already in it.  I learned a while back from Chris and Midgeman that having one of these flies was a good idea.  So when a noted Tenkara angler speaks I listened to him and promptly tied a killer bug on.  Almost immediately I was getting hits here and there as we moved upstream.  I would love to say we both proceeded to land fish after fish but that wasn't the case.  It was kind of a strange day for both of us.  Both of us had numerous hook-ups and were hauling fish in but inexplicably they would be lost at the last second. It's as he said, our hooks seemed to be not just barb-less but hook-less!  I did manage to bring one brown about 7-8" to hand.

I don't take a picture of every single fish I catch but I like to include a few in a blog post because, hey, we all like fish-porn.  Even the one fish I got to hold slipped from my fingers before I could get off a picture.  Overall it was very nice day spent stream side in a beautiful woodland setting with a fellow Tenkara angler.  Hopefully it will not take an entire trout season to get together again.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Honor

Today I just wanted to write a quick post to thank Mike at Troutrageous!  I have the honor of being a guest poster for this weeks installment of "Tenkara Tuesday." Before I started writing my own blog almost a year ago I was already addicted to reading Troutrageous! With Mike's ability to mix fishing and pop culture it's no wonder why his blog has become so popular.  I am very grateful to be have been included in this new feature along with some other really great Tenkara anglers and look forward to more Tenkara Tuesdays.  Tenkara angler or not I encourage everyone to take a look at what he has going on over there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Art of Deception

March Brown
All fishermen are liars!  That is.... in one form or another.  Yes, we have all heard the tall tales about how big this one or that one was. There is also the ever popular story about "the one that got away."  I have even been known to exaggerate a few times (when I was younger).  But let's not kid ourselves, WE ALL practice the "art of deception" when it comes to angling.  If we didn't how would we ever catch anything?  The whole point after all is to convince the fish that the bait or fly that we offer is an easy meal and not a sharp metal hook that will turn them from predator into prey.  There have literally been thousands of flies designed with this purpose in mind and multitudes of stealthy techniques created to disguise our presence.  But for all of our dishonesty and cunning the fish survive (and with catch and release live to swim another day).  This is true because nature is not without her defences.

Beautiful little brook trout.
Take one of my favorite creatures found in nature, the brook trout, as an example.  In a small stream, leaving anglers aside, it can fall prey to a number of other animals such as mink, raccoons, herons, and larger fish.  You would think with it's beautiful bright coloration's that it would last very long but it does. 

 Evolution has also given brook trout the ability to deceive.  Have you ever really watched a brook trout in a stream?  Sometimes when I'm not fishing I'll just watch them.  They sometimes just disappear before my eyes and suddenly reappear when they make a sudden movement.  Their striking patterns give them the ability to "hide" in plain sight.

Two brookies.
In the picture above, I placed two brookies that I had just caught into a small water filled depression in a rock next to the stream.  I was amazed at how, even with such a lousy background to hide against, they could blend in. I never ceased to be amazed with what nature has to offer us.  When it comes down to it, more than one animal can practice "the art of deception" and that is a good thing.  A one-sided battle does not last very long.  For me, the constant back and forth with who is deceiving who is what makes angling such an enjoyable (and obsessive pastime).  For that, I will always be thankful.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tenkara Blues

At the end of West Meadow Creek
It generally doesn't matter what season of the year it is there is always something that you can go fishing for.  April through June is great for trout, May through July is awesome for bluegills and largemouth bass and stripers if saltwater action is what your looking for.  Come October and November trout are restocked in many waters again and can even be found in the coldest depths of winter for those who are hardy or crazy enough to try.When late August and early September arrives, there is one type of fish that I can always find in abundance.  That would be snappers!  I can't speak for other places where bluefish are present but here on Long Island baby bluefish (~6" to ~12") are referred to as snappers.

Where West Meadow Creek (low tide) empties into the channel leading to Long Island Sound.
Over the last two years I have used Tenkara rods, in traditional as well as non-traditional ways, about 95% of the time.  My usual set up for fishing for snappers is a little unusual.  I prefer using a 15' Hera rod with a section of 7wt fly line, about the same length as the pole, and about 3-5 feet of monofilament tippet.  I have found that I can cast blondes and clouser minnows very well with this set up.  Sometimes I use a very small silver castmaster spoon to get down a little deeper (casting this way is not very smooth...more like lobing the lure).  I know, it's kinda a "Frankenstien set-up" but hey, it works for me!  However, this past weekend I concentrated on using my 12' Yamame set up up much as I would for any largemouth bass or large trout.  The only fly I used was a simple #12 blue and white bucktail with a mylar body, for some flash.

About the middle of West Meadow Creek on an outgoing tide.
West Meadow Creek is not a "real" creek as most people would think of one.  It's actually a tidal saltwater creek where the water comes in a high tide and then goes out at low tide.  However, even at the lowest tide there is always water in the creek.  Biologically speaking, many of the saltwater marshes and tidal creeks on Long Island are very productive and attract a great number of predators to feast on the abundant bait fish that grow in the protected shallow waters through the summer.  I have seen 30" striped bass chasing bait fish in only 6-8" of water at low tide but that is a little unusual.  The predominant predator is the snapper which can be found everywhere in the creek in late summer and were my main target.  Fishing for them is a lot like fishing in a any stream.  There is almost always a strong current going in either direction and they tend to concentrate along the banks or in holes waiting to ambush or search out their prey.  Not exactly the traditional setting for Tenkara fishing but the advantages to be found in a mountain stream also work here.

Some are kind of small but they can be great fighters for their size

 A typical snapper at about 8"
Bottom line, I did almost as well with my Yamame as my "Frankenstien set-up."  I pulled in about 2 dozen for about an hours work.  But it's a good thing bucktail is so cheap...the teeth on those little guys are nasty!  Though I would love to have been searching for beautiful little brookies, fishing for snappers with a Tenkara rod can be an enjoyable way to spend a morning.