Oregon 2018 Part 1: Mount Hood Country

We are back to our regular lives in Honolulu. Back to our cat, our garden, our jobs, and back to the salt – the waves, the tides and trade winds, bonefish and papio. A month away is a long time. Significant things happen in a month, and mundane things too, like old water heaters and broken gutters. Things are lost and gained, friends met or missed, places changed or discovered.

July was a pretty big adventure. A lot happened. I will try to put the best of it into words, especially the fishing, but the memories are already blurring a bit. I can’t help but be reminded of the timeless words of Norman Maclean: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Or, perhaps, I am just getting older. Continue reading

Tenkara Plus

Tara and I took a trip to Oregon in the end of June, our first visit since moving back to Honolulu three years ago.  It was wonderful to visit with all of my brothers, to catch up with some dear friends and to reconnect with some old friends too.
Of course I brought along my tenkara rod and managed to fit in some quality trout fishing too.  After returning home I put together a short article which Daniel Galhardo, the founder of Tenkara USA, was generous enough to post on the Tenkara USA website.  You can read the article here.

Thanks for the Fly, Leo.

It’s been a slow year for fishing. Mostly this is due to life in general: Tara’s graduation, moving from TN to OR for the summer and a three week trip to Africa. All of these things have limited my time on the water and kept me pretty well distracted. Until today.
Today I woke up early and headed out alone to a little stream where I’ve caught many trout over the years. The fish are always small so I brought only my tenkara rod (after breaking my makeshift rod I saved up and bought the real deal).

If you were to watch me trout fish you would quickly be able to tell how serious I am that day by how soon I drop to the ground and began to crawl toward the water. If I’m just out enjoying the weather I’ll wade right out and start casting midstream. If I really want to catch fish I’ll butt-scoot all the way from the car to the water’s edge. Which is what I did today. My rewards were comensurate. In three hours I landed three fish over 12 inches, and all of the fish I caught had their adipose fins intact indicating that they were born wild.

 Unprepared for fish larger than 6 or 8 inches I had to play the bigger fish carefully, but the rod performed well and things went easier than I would have expected. The experience boosted my confidence in both the gear and in my tenkara technique.

Higher Ground

The recent flooding in Nashville knocked out one of the city’s two water treatment plants. There is no rationing of water but residents have been asked to limit unnecessary water use in order to conserve local water reserves.
In the spirit of water conservation Tara and I packed the car and headed East for a few days of camping in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Lately I have been reading about tenkara fishing, a traditional method of Japanese fly fishing which employs a long rod and no reel. Tenkara fishing is ideal for catching trout on streams and small rivers.
The most obvious difference between fly fishing and tenkara fishing is that tenakara fishing does not use a reel – thus the tenkara fisher has a limited amount of line and no drag system. This might be disadvantageous when playing a large fish but to be completely honest, few fishers, and almost no trout fishers actually need their reel to fight fish. Large fish can be landed with a simple handpole.
A limited amount of line also means a limited casting distance, but on small water there is so little room that fly fishers often find themselves reduced to short casts anyway. Tenkara rods are usually between 12 and 15 feet long, much longer than a normal fly rod. With this increased reach, a tenkara fisher can lift most of their line off the water which allows their fly to drift very naturally with the current, exactly what the trout are looking for.
I figured that the Smokies would be an ideal place to try out tenkara so I rigged up some handpoles and we headed off.
I brought two flies with me: the hare’s ear nymph in a variety of sizes and a yellow dry fly to imitate a ubiquitous Smoky Mountain insect known as a yellow sally.
The nymphs failed to elicit any strikes, although that may have been due to my lack of tenkara technique. In the afternoons as more yellow sallies began to hatch the trout began feeding on the surface. Whenever I spotted a feeding fish I waded stealthily into position and then dropped my dry fly right on the fish’s head, which usually elicited an immediate strike.
With the short line I found that I was more successful in setting the hook when a fish took my fly. Tenkara fishing uses a line which is roughly the length of the rod so that when the angler raises the rod tip, the end of the line, hopefully with a trout attached, swings right to them.
We were only able to stay two nights, and the weather was only mostly cooperative, but we had fun and caught some fish. Tenkara is a simple and effective fishing method and I won’t be surprised if it’s popularity continues to grow.