Saturday, September 10, 2016

A little bit of Yosemite before going to Japan...

Its been too long since the last entry here - backpacking, fishing and traveling, with plenty of work in between has kept me from the time needed to post. I wanted to share some photos from my recent trip out to Yosemite before heading out to Japan tomorrow AM...


I visited California for work, checking out epic, gnarly, old-vines vineyards like this one here. 


Check out the Bedrock Zinfandel Old Vines if you want to see what American wine is REALLY all about...


Meanwhile, after work I hit the road and explored the hills...


the redwoods....



the coast...


Then I went east towards the Rocky's and saw a whole new set of sights I had never beheld...


From windmills to fruit farms to gold country... and then arriving in paradise.


Too late to get a campsite in the park, I found a road in the state forest where I could camp wherever I wanted and I had the place to myself...



Into the valley the next morning, I fished the Merced before the crowds hit.



I spent some time in the valley then headed out to beat the crowds.



Beautiful views and high mountains awaited me on the road to Tuolomne Meadows.


In the valley I fished another stream but it was just a bit too warm for my liking.




On another day, high mountain brookies and beautiful hikes were the focus.




Meandering meadow streams and deep-bowl lakes held unfulfilled promises of Golden Trout tantalizing my senses... 


But there was no need for a glittering golden prize on this trip, I knew I would be back to see these gently cascading brooks once more...


... tempted by the pull of the spirit of John Muir, and his trail that draws me in.


A sunset drive brought some of the most incredible mountain views one can get from a road.


Memories made and images etched into my brain for a lifetime, thankfully reinforced by these examples here!




Camping was a pleasure in this park, with many beautiful sites spread along the roads and throughout the wilderness.


The jewels of the high mountain small streams pulled me in with their brookie-like spots and gently fading parr marks.




I took it all in, and I knew I would be marked forever by this magical park.


Stay tuned for updates from Japan!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Escaping the low and slow flows of summer...

Its been really dry, and while I've been out fishing a lot, there just isn't that much water. The temps have been up in a lot of places, and I'm letting the fish rest where needed. Luckily, there are still places with cold, clean, oxygenated water in which to seek refuge...


This year, summer is defined by a much-needed cool breeze in a cold water corridor...


the pastel colors that jump out from the dry forest floor...


a bird's nest after its young have moved out...


the small wild trout that keep the population alive...


and of course, Onigiri made by a friend to fill my stomach and fuel the next cast.


A new Mankyu net from Japan has already seen more than its "fair" share of these jeweled beauties.



And then in a run like this, or not quite like this...


the fish of a lifetime for this small stream struck a fly and was brought to hand!


An epic battle on 7x tippet and a small Tenkara rod designed for 9 inchers, not this 19.5 inch beast!


But dreary conditions in local waters have not held me back this season, and there is more to write about soon!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Northeast American Genryu #3 - NYC Tenkara Anglers in the High Peaks, continued...

On the third day of our adventure we woke up in the forest at our campsite to the sounds of birds singing and hikers walking up the trail towards the high peaks.


We grabbed the bear-barrels from their stash-spot, ate some breakfast, and got ready for a long day of fishing. The map showed that we had plenty of stream to cover, so we set off down the trail to get to our intended start point.


We figured the major challenge of the day would be bright sun and our shadows, cast on the water to spook fish...


But we were wrong. The fish were hungry, darting quickly from their hiding places under rocks to strike a fly at any opportunity.


We went pool for pool, and split the stream up into sections where we didn't have pools to fish, leap-frogging each other on the way up. There was plenty of water and we had plenty of fish to catch.


Areas like this one, below create wonderful hiding spots and deeper channels where the fish hide. Its always a good bet to drift through those little channels - they are like the "pools" of fast moving sections of stream.




And each one yielded nice fish, too.



A big portion of this trip was about surveying the stream to see how the trout were recovering... and it appeared they were recovering nicely! With an average of 7ish inches on the fish I caught, this stream has a head start on some of the other small streams I've fished in the high peaks. 


In addition to the average sized brookies I speak of above, some pools were clearly homes and possibly spawning grounds for the little guys, like this:


Other pools were deeper than they looked, and I lost a really nice fish here somehow.


But there was never a reason to fret, as around each bend and over each large rock a new waterfall, plunge-pool or small-run waiting just for us.



Part of this kind of fishing is the landscape, and I was paying more attention to that than to my drifts for most of the day, not such a bad "problem" to have, right?


I spent a lot of the day practicing casting with unweighted kebari and using a Nissin Air Stage 240 and an Oni type III. I switched to the standard bead head flies that I enjoy tying, like the one below, for the deep, fast plunges where fast-sinking was necessary. 


One of my favorite views of the day, where I ate an afternoon lunch. Afterwards, I grabbed a small brookie along that ledge.


And so it continued...



... for a few more hours, until the bugs got intense, and the headnets came back out.



We had been on the water for hours, a whole day almost, and I was starting to get a little bit tired and sloppy about my casting.




Luckily that didn't matter too much - as the sun dipped, the fish became more eager and willing to dart out from their hiding spots to grab a fly.




I wondered if there were possibly two different strains of brookies in the area... one seemed more turquoise and purple with more silvery undersides, with the other being more green and tan, tones of copper and all... as seen in this contrast. I don't know enough about the science to make any calls...


I decided to call it quits after this last perfectly-proportioned fish... I had lost count long ago, and was more than content with where the day had gone.


Weary and sore from three days of navigating large rocks and rushing water, I made my way back to camp to get us set up for dinner. 


Sugi joined me a a bit later and we set to cooking and relaxing, while I began to learn the Japanese Alphabet and some new phrases for my trip in September.


We retired early to our tents - Sugi in his Hilleberg and me in my zPacks Solplex. As I lay back in my sleeping bag, I recounted the events of the last 3 days, fishing so many beautiful spots for different kinds of trout, with different rods and flies. 


Slowly I drifted off to a sleepy dreamscape, loosely defined by the repetition of the motions of that day. The fly, landing perfectly in just the right place; something about the rhythm - picturing, no feeling - the perfect cast, and then that moment the fish appears and takes the fly...