Monday, March 22, 2010

Tenkara On The Donegal

I finally had a chance to get my new Tenkara rod out today. I was originally going to head up to Manada Creek, but with the impending rain, I decided to stick closer to home and fish the Donegal.

I got to the stream around 9:45, air temp. was in the 50s. I would say the water was in the 50s also. The creek was running high, but fairly clear for the Donegal. When I pulled into the parking area, I saw two other cars, so I decided to walk downstream a ways and fish back to the car.

Being the first time out with the Tenkara, I wasn't sure how long it was going to take to rig up. I glanced at the Tenkara site before heading out, and the information was clear. After I put my waders on, I broke out the rod, and I was ready to fish in five minutes. I should note, that before I left the house, I was going through my mental checklist and had a hard time wrapping my mind around not taking a reel.

I tied on an Enckster, my bead head creation, and walked downstream about five minutes and began to fish. Tenkara's catch phrase is streamlined fly fishing, and I was amazed at the simplicity in Tenkara fishing. At the first hole I fished I got the feel for the rod, and quickly developed the rhythm for casting a Tenkara, which is a bit slower than a traditional rod. I was able to cover the hole well, and got some really nice drifts which were possible with the lighter line and longer rod. The rod, without the reel, is also very sensitive and I could pick up many vibrations.

I didn't catch anything in the first hole, but the second hole I came too I landed a 10" brown trout, and became a "Tenkara angler." I wasn't sure at first how easy it was going to be to land a fish, but it was quite simple. As I continued upstream, I landed 4 more, the largest being a 14" rainbow. I fished about two hours, and wanted to fish longer, but it began to rain, so I called it a day.

A few observations:

1) It is a simple, and enjoyable method of fly fishing. It reminds me of being a kid, when all I used was a stick, a piece of line and hook with bait.

2) Getting started was easy, and the Tenkara site has everything you need to know.

3) Snags must be dealt with a little more gently. I didn't snag as much with the Tenkara rod as I usually do, and most times the snags were easily retrieved. One time, however, I put the fly up high, and was going to pull it free with the rod, but then thought better of it, and pulled using the line. I lost the fly, but spared the rod. After I was finished, I saw the pamphlet included with the line, and realized I did the right thing by not pulling the rod.

4) The Tenkara method is great for nymphing. I'm a fairly good nymph fisherman, and this style has made it easier. I have never, "Czech nymphed," but I could see how Tenkara would be good for employing those techniques.

I'm looking forward to getting out again soon, and hope to do some dry fly Tenkara fishing.

Peters Mtn/AT Backpacking Trip

What a great weekend for backpacking. Of course, when we planned this trip, after our January trip, there was no way to know that the weather was going to be so nice. February had me thinking that we might be hiking with snow on the ground.

Kyler, Brian B., Mike M. Kyle F. and I began this trip off of Route 225, north of Dauphin, PA. The temps were in the low 70s, and the parking lot was full when we arrived. This was a good indication that we were not going to be able to get the shelter, or at least have the shelter to ourselves.

We got on the trail around noon, and headed east along Peters Mountain. This was the first time I have ever hiked this section of the AT as we usually hike and camp in the Rausch gap area. The trail follows the spine of Peters Mountain and affords great views its entire length. The views on either side of the mountain, however, are different: to the north, there is much more development and farm lands, to the south, more mountains.

This was Kyler's second backpacking trip, and first of the season. We moved at his pace, which allowed for more exploration. We stopped at numerous rock outcroppings to climb, crawl, and to generally enjoy the views they afforded. Normally, I would have blown past most of the outcroppings to get into camp. This was a much more relaxing, and enlightening way to hike. The nicest of the outcroppings was, I believe, Shikellamy Rocks. When we arrived, a boy scout troop was preparing to rappel. We took a break here and climbed below the face, then scrambled around the side. From here it was a half mile to the shelter, so we saddled up and proceeded to camp.

As expected the shelter was taken, but we found a nice spot about a hundred yards to the east of the shelter to set up our tents. I heard that water was a problem at this site; so many people said it was a long way down the side of the mountain to get to the spring. While it was a little bit of a hike, I didn't find it to be all that bad, maybe a 15 minute round trip.

Once camp was set up, and water was gathered, we sat around and relished the first day of spring. Afterwards, we threw Frisbee, or rather a fun gripper flyer. The fun gripper flyer is a nice piece of gear to pack when you have kids. It's lightweight and easy to throw.

We made a little fire to cook some hot dogs, and had supper around 6:30. We kept the fire going and enjoyed sitting around shooting the breeze into the night. The temps hovered in the low 60s and it was very pleasant. Kyler conked out around 8:00, and later when I went to bed, he never woke up when I got into the tent. He was tired from a day in the outdoors.

The next morning we got up around 7:00, and after a quick breakfast and coffee and hot chocolate, we struck camp, and got back on the trail. We got back to the parking lot around 10:00, and decided to head to the Colonial Park Diner for breakfast. After breakfast, we said our goodbyes, and now look forward to seeing each other again later in the spring either in the Shenandoah National Park, or paddling down the Schuylkill for the Blue Monkey Sojourn.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring, and all that

The pleasant weather we have been having this week, combined with DST, has put a new "spring" in my step. It's time to think about, or rather get serious about, spring triathlons, and trout. These two things aren't connected, but are both things that come to mind now that we are 2/3 of the way through March. I guess I should also start thinking about mowing the grass, and cleaning up the yard as well.

I was only going to compete in one triathlon this spring, Got The Nerve, but I have decided to compete in the Hempfield triathlon as well. They are a month apart, and both are within 15 minutes of my house, so what the heck.

Training has been going well, only a slight annoyance in the groin area, which doesn't seem to be a problem when I swim, bike or run, but last evening, while throwing ball with my son, I tweaked it when I lunged to catch a pitch. I was supposed to see a surgeon in Philly in April concerning what I think, and symptoms indicate, is an athletic pubalgia, but my insurance company doesn't want to pay for the MRI. They want more documentation. Guess I'll get through the next two months, train as much as I can, then go to the family doctor who will tell me to rest and take anti-inflamatories. If I do this enough, perhaps someone will authorize an MRI.

As for trout fishing, I still haven't been able to get the new Tenkara rod out. Monday, however, if the weather permits, I might fish Manada creek, and see if I can land my first salmonid "Japanese style." My buddy Scot H. had a good night on Manada last evening. I was thinking of hitting the Donegal, but since I have the day off, and a little time, I think I'll hit Manada, because it is hard to get there otherwise.

Lastly, I'm looking forward to backpacking this weekend with Kyler. We're going to hike into the Peters Mountain shelter located on the AT north of Harrisburg. I'll have a write-up and photos Monday. Hopefully, I'll also be able to report on the Tenkara experience.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tenkara: The Rod Arrives

I received my new Tenkara rod yesterday, and as a former Marine its arrival couldn't have been more ironic. Yesterday I read in the paper that ceremonies were underway on Iwo Jima to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the World War II battle that took place on that Island. So, in a historical reversal, the Japanese landed in Mount Joy.

Getting a new fly rod is always exciting, but I was particularly excited to get my Tenkara rod, primarily because it represents a new venture in a sport that enjoy. It will be fun to learn a new style of fly fishing that is practiced on an island that I visited years ago. At that time, however, I was totally unaware of the practice of Tenkara.

The rod fits in a small tube about 18" long, and before the rod is extended it is only about 16" long. These are ideal dimensions for backpacking. I also purchased a Tenkara line. Everything else that I will need to get started, I already have. I plan on using the tippet that I currently use, and I will also use flies that have worked for me on mountain trout streams in the past, including an Enckster (my name for my creation) and a parachute Adams.

I wish I could get out and try the new rod, but that will have to wait at least a few more days.