Remember to think on your feet when tenkara fishing
I was losing the fight. In the moment, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. In retrospect, it is all terribly clear. The fight in mention was a sparring match during a recent Tae Kwon Do tournament. My first round opponent was a good guy that I have beaten a number of times. I certainly was not taking him for granted, but I was perhaps a little too certain I would make it to the next round. This time, though, he came at much more aggressively than I anticipated and I immediately went into defensive mode. To paraphrase Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face.
I now know what I did wrong. I immediately went into reaction mode and stopped thinking about how to get ahead. I was defending his shots and trying to counter, but not producing my own offense. I landed one sweet head kick, but that was really it. Mainly, it was a failure of movement. Somehow, my feet were mostly planted. I was not creating angles for offense nor moving to make him miss. I made the rookie mistake of more or less standing in his kicking range rather than moving in to strike and out to set up the next move.
So, what the heck does me getting in schooled in a sparring match have to do with tenkara? Well, when I think about some of the good fish I have I lost, I have lost them when I have more or less frozen in place. Planted my feet. Failed to think ahead. Failed to move. When I hook a good fish now days, Matt usually gives me a reminder to “land the fish, first!”, which basically means “keep your head in the game”. In the video accompanying this post, I hooked into a wild 16 inch brown trout that gave me a solid fight. In this instance, I played it right. I moved with the fish, keeping it in control but giving it room to move. When I ran up against terrain that would have increased my snagging hazard, I stopped and fought him on the rod, halting its run and bringing it smoothly to the net. While I typically try to end the fight quickly by relying on the rod and tippet system (I feel that is usually best for the fish), sometimes you have to let things play out. I was thrilled to have landed him - a 16 inch wild trout is a fine catch in Driftless water! If circumstances permit, don’t be afraid to move with the fish and plan your landing. It's easy to get excited and find yourself locked down in tunnel vision, but do your best to maintain situational awareness. If you get punched in the face, shake yourself out of reaction mode and try to think ahead to your next move!