In the “Before Times”, pre-pandemic that is, I took the fine gentleman in this picture and his two sons out tenkara fishing. It was a fun (and fish) filled day I recounted in my March 10, 2019 post “Singing in the Rain.” Fast forward to yesterday when he was kind enough to fish with me again and this time brought his wonderful wife. I now understand where the boys got their fishing gene…from their mother! She caught this gorgeous Brown trout on her first time fishing with tenkara. It was just one of a number of fish that she brought to the net. This is a family full of fun and excellent anglers, but if they ever have a fishing competition…my money’s on Mom!
Here’s a great picture of a delightful and excellent young angler I had the pleasure of fishing with this week. He’s rightly proud of this beautiful Brook trout he caught on tenkara. But maybe the proudest person in the photo is his grandfather, who saw his grandson’s patience, focus and determination all pay off with such a beautiful fish. Tenkara fishing contains lessons of value for all of us. Technique matters more than technology. Simplicity has a virtue all its own. But after years of guiding, the most important thing I’ve learned is that the people who love fishing the most, love the people they fish with.
When the calendar page turns to June, my thoughts turn to the high streams of western North Carolina and the challenge of fishing for our elusive native Appalachian Brook trout. These beautiful little char (they’re not technically trout!) are found only in clean, cool water. A day of fishing for them typically involves several miles of hiking, a lot of scrambling up steep streams and some real angling challenge. Stealth, accuracy, patience and focus are all required to bring one to hand. That’s why it’s so much fun! Couple that with a day in our beautiful mountains and forests and you have the very best of fishing our area has to offer.
This young tenkara ace celebrated the end of a long, weird, hybrid school year by going fishing with his grandfather, which just goes to show how smart he is! They taught a few lessons to the trout over the course of a great day of catching fish, enjoying the outdoors and each other. There are many wonderful things about coming out of the pandemic. Young people regaining some semblance of normal life is a big one. But the greatest has to be the freedom for all generations to fully get back together as family. I know I love once again spending time freely with my own family. Yesterday, I loved spending time with theirs.
On Thursday I had a great day with an adventurous and quick learning tenkara first timer. We worked on building our skills on hatchery supported water in the morning and trekked into some wild trout water in the afternoon. We caught Brook trout in both situations but you’d hardly know they were the same species (Salvalinus fontinalis) by looking at them. Hatchery reared Brook trout (top picture) in our area come from northern stock and tend to be darker and grow larger than our native Appalachian Brook Trout. Here where streams are small and relatively low on nutrients, our Brook trout have evolved to be smaller and more colorful. (For an even more pronounced example, check out the post above!) Genetic diversity is an essential component of species resiliency and one of the many things that make life on earth interesting. Isn’t it great that we can all be the same as a species and be unique as individuals at the same time?
The Mamas and the Papas might have had mixed feelings about Monday, but not me! What better way to start the week than with your feet in the water and a tenkara rod in your hand? That’s what I did this week, along with this skilled tenkara first-timer and inspirational conservation advocate. We had an awesome morning learning tenkara, catching fish and enjoying the wonderful natural resources we are blessed with here in western North Carolina. With a start like that, I can’t wait for the rest of the week!
Many American anglers don’t realize that the Brown Trout is an introduced species. Like many of us, they are descended from European immigrants. Brought here first from Europe in 1883, they have spread across North America, and around the globe. Brown trout can vary significantly in appearance from population to population, probably because they are one of the most genetically diverse species known. The Brown Trout possesses 40 pairs of chromosomes, as compared to our mere 23 pairs. Their genus Salmo makes them more closely related to the Atlantic Salmon (salmo salar) than to our American trout. This beauty was temporarily inconvenienced by some skillful tenkara angling before being safely released. If you’re fortunate enough to get up close and personal with one, take a minute to admire, understand and learn more about this piscatorial citizen of our immigrant nation!
What better way to end the week than a day on the water tenkara fishing? That’s exactly what we did yesterday and mother nature gifted us with a cool, sunny and fish-filled day. I was with two delightful anglers, one with some tenkara experience and one first timer. Now they both have tenkara experience, along with a lot of laughs, fish caught and a great Friday together to remember.
Today was an awesome day. I got to take a good friend and his new bride up into Brookie country. She had never fly fished before but within five minutes of starting had caught her first fish ever on a fly rod. The fact that it was a native Appalachian Brook Trout, taken on a dry fly, tenkara’d through an aquatic rock-garden made the feat all the more impressive! It was my first trip up into the higher water this spring. The trees are just starting to realize winter is over and the trout are waking up to the fact that there are a few bugs to be had. If today’s trip made a new tenkara angler out of this first timer, they’d better watch out!
One of the great privileges of guiding is being allowed, if only temporarily, to be part of the fun and camaraderie of friends and family sharing time together. Here are two fast friends I was lucky enough to spend a wonderful morning with today. We had a blast, saw an eagle and they really gave my landing net a workout! It was their first time tenkara fishing….but I’ve got a hunch it wasn’t their last. I certainly hope not!