Over the past couple weeks I’ve been able to make it out two times to try out my new TenkaraUSA 12′ Iwana Tenkara rod. I thought I would combine them into one post since although great learning experiences, I wasn’t successful in hooking into any trout. Its important for you to realize that although I’ve been fishing all my life, I am just starting with Tenkara, so I am just sharing my first impressions, thoughts and what I’ve learned. If you want to correct me on anything, give me and my readers tips and hints please do. Add your thoughts in the comments section below so we can all learn together.
My first trip was to a section of the creek that I grew up near, and spend many days in as a kid. The Willow Creek is a tributary of the Nottawasaga river (A decent sized river that flows through part of Southern Ontario), and is a perfect example of where Tenkara fishing should really shine. Unfortunately I’ve heard that the Willow Creek experienced some sort of chemical spill quite a few years ago, and the trout haven’t really come back in the numbers that used to be here. I am not sure how accurate this is but its what I’ve been told. I remember catching trout as a kid, walking down a different section of the river then the one I was on with my father (caught on small red worms). So I wanted to try and re-live some of my childhood memories. I probably should have taken the same route we used to take, but I was a bit lazy this night, and went to the closest access point I knew.
I entered the river along the Hunter Russel Trail right at the small steel bridge that crosses the river. From there I walked west along the river heading down stream. I’ve read that its better to head up stream, but upstream would have brought me to some private land, so I went the other route to stay away from trespassing. It was hot out, so all I wore were my Vibram Five-Finger shoes a pair of shorts and a shirt with some big pockets on the front. (which is where I stored the little amount of items needed to fish Tenkara). I stayed mostly in the water as I waded down the creek. It really is a beautiful creek to walk, unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures. (Mental note has been added to take more pictures!).
It was at the second set of rifles that I started to rise fish to my poorly tied Sakasa Kebari, I could tell it was just a small fish, but couldn’t see what it was, I was able to get about 4 attempts before it no longer rose to the fly (I obviously spooked it). Even though no fish was caught, my spirits were high and I was really starting to feel more comfortable with Tenkara. Soon after I hooked my first fish, which happened at the end of a drift just as I was pulling it back up out of the water. Unfortunately it was no trout, but it was a fairly large river ‘shiner’. My best guess according to this site, The Baitfish Primer, is that it was a striped shiner (Luxilus chrysocephalus). If you have a better idea of what it is, please let me know in the comments below. Although it was just a little guy, it still put a small bend in the rod, and was definitely fun to catch on the rod. I know its common for us western fisherman to go always go after the bigger fish (bigger is better, right?) well, I would be perfectly happy catching these little guys all day long. Although, I would definitely prefer trout!
A bit further down in a pool at a nice bend in the river I was able to catch my second fish, (and last for the day). It was another striped shiner, but a bit bigger this time. I was able to get a decent picture with the Tenkara rod along with the fish. This one was interesting as I used the ‘bow and arrow’ cast to get the fly in between a group of logs that had a nice pool in the gap between. The shiner hit the fly almost as soon as it hit the water and I was able to get it around and in. Once again, although it was small to my usual standards, it was still fun!
After that the rest of the trip was mostly uneventful, I did somehow end up getting a leech on my foot in one of the slower moving sections, but a sharp knife and a shaving type motion quickly detached it from my skin. As a side little tidbit, I’ve read that using fire or salt to remove a leech could cause it to regurgitate into the wound which may lead to an infection. The best way to take them off is either a) let it get its fill and it will fall off by itself or b) very carefully with a sharp knife break that ‘suction’ and it will move and then you can just flick it off. Once again, I am no expert, so all the normal disclaimers apply. My father and all his years of wisdom swears by the tap its on its back until it gets pissed off and moves method.
My second Tenkara outing was unfortunately a bust. I did not catch anything other then a few tree branches and a resounding lesson that I need to learn more before I head back to that spot. I was fishing a very small stream that runs through dense forest. It was about 30 – 35 degrees Celsius out (86-95 deg. Fahrenheit), and I was brilliant enough to wear my full chest waders. I covered about 6 Kilometers on this walk, (most of this was spend along a railway track in the direct sun). Needless to say, I was sweating like crazy. I found that the rod at 12′ was a bit long for the size of stream, although I know its not, but I am still a bit too inexperienced at the moment to make it work. I’ll definitely be going back here later on when I get more trips under my belt. I didn’t see any trout, but I know this creek gets some big trout in it during the spawn. I did get an interesting video of a porcupine I came across along the railway tracks. I walked up to within 3-4 meters of it before I was noticed, and it just very slowly looked at me, got on all fours (it was sitting on its back hunches eating something) , turned and raised its quills, and slowly walked off. All I could think, was had I been in a survival type situation in the woods, I would have been eating good that night!
This post is getting pretty long, so I’ll leave it here. Thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts on my first couple trips please share in the comment section below!