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.


  1. Those are the little guys I fish for....but not with Tenkara.

    They must fight like devils on light tackle.

  2. Very interesting post. I for one applaud your unconventional approach and assembly of gear. It looks like you've found a unique little fishery that most people would overlook.

  3. Brk Trt...It's a lot of fun to catch them on light tackle because they put up such a good fight. I have found myself spending more time chasing these guys than looking for bluegills and bass while I wait for some trout oppourtunities.

    Jay...catching snappers on spin gear is very popular here but I kind of stick out like a sore thumb with my Tenkara rods. Thing is, I generally outfish all of them using this method (makes me feel like I know what I'm doing...Ha, Ha, Ha!)

  4. Very cool! Here I was expecting to find that Tenkara had got you down. I lived out that way for awhile and would fish LI from time to time. We got into the snappers on a regular basis. Lots of fun, and what an innovative way to use your Tenkara gear.

  5. F.R....I find Tenkara is better suited to catching snappers than using spin gear (which is what most use). Most of the time they are right along a dock/pier or can be easily reached with a little wet wading, so you don't have to cast very far anyway.