Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thin Blue Lines

Just another thin blue line

If I had one and only one kind of place to fish it would have to be fishing those "thin blue lines".  Thin blue lines refer to the blue lines that represent small streams on a topographical map, many of which may not have names.  If you still do not know what kind of place thin blue lines are I refer you to Alan at Small Stream Reflections. In my opinion, there is no better blog out there that exemplifies what kind of places I love to fish.

Newly emerged Canada Mayflower leaves
 The only problem I have with this kind of fishing is that it's virtually non-existent on Long Island, where I live.  However, this past weekend I went home with the family to visit my parents.  I always manage to find a couple of hours early in the morning to get out and do a little hiking and fishing.

First wild brook trout to be brought to hand
When fishing in these places for wild brook trout you will seldom bring fish to hand that would qualify as a "trophy" by many other anglers but it can be challenging, frustrating, and rewarding all the same.  In many instances you will have an entire stream to yourself and you will get to see many things that generally go unnoticed by fisherman more concerned with bigger fish and rivers.

Partridge berry laying almost hidden on the forest floor
I was searching out brook trout but found trout of another kind.  The advantage of seeking this type of trout is that you don't have to crawl on hands and knees just to avoid spooking them.

Trout Lilly just about to bloom
Another trout lilly bloom I found "decapitated" on the ground
Trout Lillies add some color to the forest floor as the rest of the woods begin to "green-up" with the warming days of spring.  They get their name from the leaves that somewhat resemble the flank of of a trout.  Serendipity is something that always comes to mind when exploring and fishing these little streams.  While searching out those wild miracles of evolution that have managed to survive for millennia in in the cold and sometime harsh mountain waters one is able to come across other organisms that are equally adept at surviving.  This is something I have always found appealing and probably never grow tired of when exploring those "thin blue lines."

One of my wild trophies on the day

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's Just Not the Same

Latest Brown Trout to spend a moment in my tamo net
My father taught my brother, sister and I how to fish when were young.  Some of my fondest memories from that time were impatiently waiting for my father to come home from work and then pounding my dinner so we could get in the car and head to Chadwick Lake, our town's reservoir, to fish until sundown.  Back then all I wanted was to land the largest bass I could.  Fishing was typically done with worms and Mepps spinners.  Since that time had I drifted away from fishing 24-7 during my high school and college years but eventually rediscovered the joy and excitement I had as a kid.  Living on Long Island I started back fishing by pursuing striped bass and blue fish on spin gear and then eventually found that L.I. also had a decent sweet water option, including trout...which is something I had always wanted to catch since I was a kid. But acquiring the gear and skills to fly fish seemed daunting and I gave up the idea of ever catching a trout on a fly until I came across tenkara.

For many western anglers, including readers of this blog,  the last few years have seen the introduction of tenkara to the U.S. and the benefits of this old yet simple way to fish. Tenkara gear has the benefit of allowing the angler to simplify the gear they carry, the fly selection they use, manipulate the fly in ways that are hard to duplicate with traditional western gear, etc.  It has been embraced by many, ignored by others and at times received harsh criticism (to put it mildly) by others who wish to remain ignorant or somehow feel threatened by it's presence.  I can not speak for others, only myself when it comes to what tenkara means to me.  Tenkara is a particular method for fishing and at the same time a specific type of gear.  It is "tool" available to anglers like any other tool found in a tool box.  A wrench was made for specific purpose but in a pinch I could use it as a hammer.  Tenkara was developed and works best pursuing trout on small mountain streams but for me it works just as well on a small pond looking for some bluegills and bass.

This brookie decided to sample my wooly bugger right after the brown pictured above
I guess I should insert a disclaimer here.  Though I probably do about 95% of my fishing with tenkara gear I in no way have a problem with any other method or type of gear used to fish as long as it's done in a lawful and environmentally sound way.  Just a few days ago I was using an ultralight spin rod catching a few fish when it struck me. I love to be outdoors and fish but using spin gear is just not the same.

One of my favorite brookies from the past caught on an 11' Iwana
The greatest moment in fishing, no matter the gear or technique used, is the instant in which you feel that tug on the other end of your line.  Your mind quickly goes into overdrive thinking about what kind of fish you may have, how to play the fish and how hard you heart feels like its pounding. I have found that my connection to the fish in that moment is enhanced using a tenkara rod.  With spin gear, unless it's 35"+ striper or a normal bluefish, you simply muscle the fish in (or at least I do).  With tenkara I feel that I don't necessarily dominate the fish but  have to finesse the fish to my net or hand. Tenkara has some great advantages but it also has limitations.  Is it for everyone?  More than likely not.  Will many anglers see the benefits and see instances in which they will use or practice it?  I'm sure they will if they give it a fair chance.  But what I feel is important is not the debate of what it is or what it isn't to everyone else, what's important is what it is to you. Tenkara to me is simple fishing and it is pure joy and that's all that matters.  I will still fish in other ways from time to time but they will never do the same thing for me that tenkara does.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I have never been one to really want to "lead the band."  I am generally content to add a few notes here and there and am usually grateful to be part of the whole.  I have been happy to participate in several fishing forums and join the world of blogging but a couple of very cool opportunities presented themselves in the last few months. Prior to last Christmas I was contacted by fellow tenkara angler David Dirks about a book he was working on and asked if I would be willing to contribute.  I was pretty happy to help in any way I could but I must say I have been on cloud 9 since I have seen the finished book.  I have felt honored to be included  with a number of well known and respected tenkara anglers from around the country.  I'm not really into the book review thing...I would leave that to more qualified individuals.  However, I would definitely recommend picking up or downloading a copy if you are interested in taking up tenkara or just want a different perspective on various aspects of the sport. The second chance to be part another tenkara project came by way of fellow tenkara angler and blogger Anthony Naples.....

Anthony's project consists of contributions from various tenkara anglers from around the country (some of whom were also contributors to David's book).  There are stories, poems, artwork, and other odds and ends that will entertain and be thought provoking.  Anthony always has great content on his blog but this project is outstanding and if you don't go and check it out you will have missed out.  In the end, I feel fortunate to have been included in these projects and able to add a couple of notes to the symphony and am thankful to David and Anthony for the opportunity to contribute.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The 2013 Opener

Yellow Perch...first Tenkara fish of the year
 Today was not just April first...April Fools was opening day of trout season in New York.  Living on Long Island that doesn't mean as much because many of the local bodies of water are open year round for trout fishing. The problem is that many of these same bodies of water are put and take and therefore are not stocked until April first.  However, this day also means a well deserved day off from work for me to spend doing some fishing.  The whole day was devoted to pursing one of my favorite past times, no schedules, no deadlines, no places to be...just fishing.

I started the day at White's Pool on the Nissequogue River  with some flies and my Yamame tenkara rod.  Two hours later all I had to show for it was the yellow perch pictured above. Some might consider that disappointing but not me. However, I decided to move on anyway because I had the time to go to other locations. I decided to go to Randal Pond, which is a little 4 acre put and take "puddle" for rainbows and brown trout.

What is really nice about this little pond is that it's generally not that crowded and has several convenient fishing platforms that provide access to certain areas of the pond without having to use a boat.  In addition, most of it is surrounded by wood lands that let you watch turkey, hawks, and all manner of other forms of wild life while fishing.  I even saw a little brown bat hovering over the water at around 2pm.  But I went for trout and that is what I got.

All and all it was a good day and a relaxing one.  The only regret I can honestly say I have about the trip is that I had to put aside my tenkara rod in favor of my ultra light spinning gear.  I'm not opposed to anyone, myself included, using any particular method to catch fish.  I just have a lot more fun using my tenkara gear. However, the breeze that kicked up this afternoon made casting flies virtually impossible. If today is any indication to what the rest of the season holds I think it will be a great year.