All you need to fish just about anywhere is a Tenkara rod, a home-made fishin' bag, and a cool boonie hat.
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!
Just a simple little run, right?
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!
This humble stretch of spillway held a surprising amount of action!
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.
These little Bluegills were a blast!
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!
Badger Tenkara is excited to announce our sponsorship of a genuinely epic family adventure! We are big believers that sharing outdoor adventures with family can create powerful, positive experiences. We also firmly believe that Tenkara is a perfect fit with backpacking, bike touring, and paddlesports like kayaking and canoeing. This summer, we are happy to be sponsoring some adventures that will highlight how well Tenkara fly fishing compliments just about any outdoor pursuit.
Last year, at the age of 5, Christian "Buddy Backpacker" became the youngest person to ever through-hike the 2,184 mile Appalachian Trail. On April 8th, just a week after his 6th birthday, Buddy and his family will begin their journey on the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail. On this trip, the family will be carrying Badger Tenkara Classic rods, learning how to fly fish Tenkara style, and checking in with us along the way!
Buddy and his family on the Appalachian Trail in 2013.
Buddy's family is getting ready to hit the trail, but they kindly took a moment to answer a few questions:
1) Please tell us a little about your family, and how Buddy became the youngest thru-hiker in Appalachian Trail history. We are from NY, born and raised. We moved to Colorado in 2012 to start living a more active lifestyle with Buddy. We spent the summer in the Rockies and Buddy just fell in love with backpacking. He loves being outside and sleeping in the tent. After a season of skiing in CO we decided that we would to hike some of the AT, not really ever intending on completing the whole thing. We hoped that we would finish, but didn't put any pressure on even getting half way. We always took it one day at a time. 2) How much fishing has Buddy, and your family in general, done before now? Buddy has done a bit of fishing on Long Island with his grandfather, they fish off the south shore of Long Island. They haven't ever fly fished, actually none of us have before. Dion grew up on a sail boat fishing his whole life, so he has a bit of experience but also hasn't ever been fly fishing before.
3) What about Tenkara fishing encouraged you to choose it as a tool for your thru hike? We chose Tenkara because of the ultra-lightweight design of the rod and how compact it is. We think it will be perfect for carrying long distance.
4) Are you planning on fishing to supplement your food on the trip, strictly for recreation, or both? We plan on fishing mostly for recreation, but should we catch something worth eating we will film it and cook it up! We are bringing a grate for grilling the fish we hope to catch!
It is going to take a month or so for the trail to wind its way through the deserts and into more"fishy" territory, but we'll be posting updates on Buddy's journey and the whole family's experiences as they learn Tenkara. In the mean time, please check out their website and drop by their Face Book page to wish them a safe and happy hike!
Click above to visit www.buddybackpacker.com
Click above to visit Buddy BackPacker on Face Book!