I recently had the great pleasure of volunteering my services at an outdoor-focused summer camp for local teens. Along with some fellow Trout Unlimited members we spent the morning introducing a dozen local youngsters to the fun of fly fishing. I, of course, used tenkara. The two young ladies I was with had a great morning catching an interesting mix of warm water species plus one Brown trout and one Rainbow…pretty good for two first time fly fishers! Whether you are an expert, or a beginner, there are few better ways to ensure the future of our sport than to take the time to fish with a youngster. It’s good fun and good karma.
A wonderful day up in Brook Trout country on Friday got me to thinking about why Brookie fishing is such a fun and calming challenge. There are lots of technical things you could cite as crucial but to me it really boils down to a something of a dichotomy: In order to succeed you have to be as mentally present as you can, while at the same time being as physically not present as you can. It sounds weird but it means you have to be absolutely focused on nothing but the stream, the fly, the fish. As the situation becomes everything to you, you strive to become nothing to the situation. Ideally, you want everything to be as though you weren’t even there; no sound, no shadow, nothing. I don’t know, but it seems like there must be something healthy about an activity that rewards you for maximizing the importance of everything around you and minimizing the significance of your presence in it. I can’t be sure…but I know it makes you smile.
That’s uphill, upstream and away from the “things of man.” You know summer has truly begun in Asheville when the kids get out of school, the fireflies start blinking and the out of state license plates outnumber the in-state. That’s my signal to head for Brook Trout country. We did just that on Saturday and it was wonderful. Check out the pictures above and below and you’ll see why I love my job!
For the past decade, on the first Saturday in June, I have had the great privilege of being the Tournament Director for the Mossy Creek Invitational, a fundraiser and fishing tournament for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. PHWFF is a non-profit dedicated to using fly fishing and fly fishing related activities as therapeutic tools to aid in the recovery of our wounded warriors and disabled veterans. Our goal at the Mossy Creek Invitational is to generate funds for the organization and fun for the participants. This, our tenth anniversary was maybe the best ever. We were blessed with great weather, great fishing and wonderful participants, sponsors and volunteers. When the day was done we had raised $241,000 for PHWFF. I’m still buzzing with the emotion of the day. You can share in that buzz by checking out www.projecthealingwaters.org and becoming a part of the incredible, lifesaving work they do. No matter how much you give, it’s a small thing compared to what these brave men and women have given for us.
Yesterday we headed up into wild Brook Trout water for the first time this spring. Flows were a little high but the Mountain Laurel was blooming, the butterflies were everywhere and the fish were happy to take any well presented fly. I was with a skilled tenkara veteran and we actually fished with the same fly all day. It fooled this beauty while we were laying flat on our stomachs on a truck sized boulder and casting down 10′ into a pool. We were really gettin’ our tenkara on. My muscles are a little sore this morning from all the hiking, climbing and four point scrambling but it sure was nice to get back in the wild.
Many thanks to all of the wonderful people who have come fishing with Unreel Fly Fishing this spring! You guys and gals are awesome and I hugely appreciate your business, your support and your friendship. I’ve been so busy netting fish for all you tenkara aces that I hardly had a chance to pick up a rod. Well today I did and I got one! I know, it’s probably not as big as some of yours, but I wanted to show you a picture anyway. Very shortly we’ll be shifting gears and hiking up to catch native Brook Trout…you only need one hand for those little guys but we sure love ’em anyway.
In angling terms, catching an amazing fish like this on tenkara is truly, “The best of times.” Tenkara is not really intended to catch fish this size but with good technique (and a little good fortune), it can be done. The truth is though, that for every picture like this, there is probably a story about the fish that got away and in doing so taught us the lesson that made landing the next one possible. It usually takes a few tries to get your first, really big fish to the net. Successful fish fighting on tenkara requires good tactics, touch, anticipation and agility. These things come only through practice. The great thing is that the only way to practice is to go tenkara fishing. So get out there and go for it!