As we wait for this chaotic weather to finally stabilize, I find myself thinking back to some of my favorite Tenkara adventures from last year. One that really stands out in my mind took place on a tiny spillway my wife and I came across on a hike through Governor Dodge State Park. I had thrown some Tenkara gear into my day-pack as we set off to explore, but didn't expect to find much that was worth fishing. A paved, heavily trafficked path leads across it, and it is literally 100 yards from a huge picnic area and snack shop. I honestly didn't think too much of it as we walked by on our way to the trailhead. On the way back, we wandered up along the shore and I got a look down into the stream from above.There were fish darting everywhere!
It turned out that there was a good sized school of Bluegill living in this 50 ft section of spillway. They were no longer than 6 inches in most cases, but they were hungry! In addition to having a willing group of fish to work with, I quickly realized that the characteristics of this water were far more complex than I had given it credit for. In a depth varying between about 8-20 inches, there was a surprising amount of structure. At the top of the run, a large rock split the current and created a primary lie in a patch of slack water. The deepest part of the run extended downstream from there under the bubble line. Where that depth ended, a secondary current rejoined the main flow and spilled over small ledge. Overgrown grass and vegetation created small "undercuts" along the banks. At the bottom of the run, a jumble of rocks provided the current breaks for another primary lie. It was basically a Tenkara laboratory - all of the same characteristics an angler would look for on larger water, with a school of cooperative, hungry fish!
What was really interesting was that the Bluegill related to the terrain and current exactly the way trout would. They held in current breaks or just off of the faster water, focused on the bubble line for hints of oncoming food, and when hooked or startled they would dive for the "undercuts" on the bank. I spent about a half hour working this marvelous little run. Although many of them were too tiny to get a solid bite, the 'gills swarmed the #14 renegade I was casting. I lost track of the hits, but I was able to hook and land 6 feisty little fish.
This little spillway included every part of the angling experience that I enjoy - and did it on intimate scale where every single factor was visible. I bet that you've got a similar piece of water nearby just begging to be explored, so grab a rod and give it go. You might be surprised at how much fun it is!