Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tenkara Across America 2017 Begins.... in Maryland Brook Trout Forest

Its been a crazy first week on the road... the freedom of living a life of car camping and sleeping in the forest, meeting up with others along the way; and of course, sampling the local breweries and BBQ joints has been both liberating and exciting. Needless to say, there's also some serious adjustment involved when it comes to daily life... and so far we've been enjoying every minute of it. 


Home has mostly been a Dutchware Gear Chameleon Hammock with appropriate quilts and tarp for the cold & rainy weather. We fished a few streams on the way to our first camping area, but for me the most memorable day so far was the second day in one of Maryland's many "brook trout forests."


After a backcountry breakfast of champions, we drove just a few miles from our campsite to what can only be called a picture perfect wild brookie stream. Game on.


Because the sun was so bright, we had to work somewhat carefully to avoid spooking fish. The good news was that they were holding relatively low in the cold spring water and we did a fine job of finding fish most of the day.


Rob crosses the stream holding a beer... expertly done, and great practice for our more serious stream crossings coming later in the season out west.


I was in awe of this place, but I wasn't letting the natural beauty distract me much... there were plenty of beautiful brook trout to present to, and only so many hours in the day.


Plunge after plunge and riffle after riffle, we drifted kebari (and admittedly even some small bead head flies) to willing wild trout left and right.



Taking a lunch break, rob made a wind screen for his alcohol stove to make some coffee. We carried everything we needed and nothing we didn't...


 ...traveling light on the river is great, but having some space for lunch and a few other items is key. 


Truthfully, I could have made due with nothing more than the rod and some flies this day, hunger be damned... because it was one of the most fun and beautiful days on the stream I've had in well over a year.


The fish were cooperating too, which is always nice!


Every bend yielded another picturesque run or little bathtub to marvel at, as we approached to make our presentations.




 Holes like the one below are why we had to bust out some beads... the fish just weren't coming up for a manipulated fly fished in the Tenkara style here. It happens to everyone sometimes, and, well... sometimes you also know there's a "trophy brook trout" down there and you have to do what it takes if you want that fish.


I got that fish. Too bad the photo is washed out in the bright light.


Standard wet wading gear "hard at work" in USA:


Is this not a stream that we've all dreamed of in our wildest small-stream dreams?



Sometimes its hard to focus as I let my attention drift from the fishing to the beautiful surroundings...



We found many fossil-laden rocks along the banks and there was plenty to observe in them by focusing on the small details... shells, mini sand dollars, and more.


The wildflowers were out in force, and while a gentle green carpet had begun to coat the forest floor,  we were a bit early for the mushrooms we were also hoping to find on that day.



As the shadows became long and the angle of the light changed, alerting us that the final hours of light were at hand, we found a few more nice spots to fish before turning around.


Rob caught what I considered to be the fish of the day at the last run here.


I thoroughly enjoyed the walk out as well, taking in the scenery from new angles and with the altered perspective of a hiker rather than a fisherman.



There was some kind of old trail and bits of old road that intermingled along the edge of the stream, which made the walk out easier than expected.


 Back at the campsite, we filled the snowpeak fireplace grill with wood charcoal, loading on top of it a few choice menu items that we could not wait to devour in haste.


After dinner we tied flies (and admittedly some bead heads too) and prepared for incoming rainy weather, as well as another week of Tenkara fishing in Maryland's brook trout forests.




Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring has Sprung and a new Adventure Begins!

Life has been hectic in a good way recently... moving out of the city, putting everything into boxes and choosing what to bring along with me in order to live out of my car and on the trail... for the next 5-6 months. But before I got on the road, I hit a few local streams near the city.


The little wild browns were doing a good job surviving a fast-growing carpet of Didymo.


The colors on some of the fish were more vivid than others, and the spot patterns varied widely. Sometimes I wonder if there are different strains of browns in each stream.


Many of the fish were small, but a few were decent size for a little stream life this one.



Some interesting rock formations created the few deep pools on this stretch. Sometimes fish pod up here, but they also spook easily in full sun.


I managed a fish out of the pool itself, and missed another at the riffle up top.


Working my way up stream I found a few more trout willing to take my fly.



 I still had some packing to do for my adventure, so this was a short afternoon jaunt into the trout forest... and a successful one.


The day ended much as it began, with a view of a place that feels more wild than its suburban surroundings suggest.


So as this year's road trip & adventure begins, I say goodbye to my familiar local waters; looking forward to new experiences that lie ahead and the promise of new freedoms, a fresh perspective and each coming day.


Friday, March 10, 2017

A Welcome Return to the Headwaters

This winter season continues to be difficult for small stream fishing with water levels still low, a real lack of snow, and constant temperature and weather changes. Winter isn't supposed to be great fishing, but the last few winters have fished so well I've forgotten what its like to have an "off season."



So, with great excitement, I chose a day with what appeared to be cooperative weather, and just after a rain for some increased flows, to hit a wonderful headwaters stream that I've been wanting to scout for a couple of seasons now. Not only was it beautiful, but it delivered, too.



This was a typical stream for the Catskills or parts of PA, but I wasn't in the Catskills, or PA. I was pleasantly surprised and constantly in awe of the beauty in this small gorge.


The first quarter of a mile or so yielded nothing, and then two more anglers came along. That was disappointing because they knew the stream and were moving fast. There was no way to stay ahead of them. The good part of that was, I noticed, that these guys skipped huge sections of small water and went straight for the big pools and the waterfall pools. 



As I moved up stream fishing the smaller water, I began to get a few nibbles - and then a fish of enough size to take the fly struck. It was a nice little wild brown, and it hit on the retrieve... much like a streamer would act... and not so different from recent winter days when I saw the browns chasing bait-fish rather than eating insects.


Once I had the technique for the day down, I began to find more fish, carefully fishing between bigger pools and in the smaller runs. It was a successful strategy for the day, and it returned my confidence after a couple of skunked days earlier this winter. That almost never happens, and I'd be lying if I had said it didn't hurt my pride just a little bit...


And of course, soon those skunked memories were fading, as I was releasing fish from my net and feeling somehow both relaxed and excited at the same time.


There were some nice spots where log jams created good features for the fish... and I was rewarded in those spots. 


I came to a bend leading to a set of waterfalls and worked my way around.



There were some nice spots in between, in which a more enterprising angler willing to take a little more risk could surely find some less worked-over water.




These images speak for themselves, what more can I add?




I found this rainbow which must have swum up from a long way below...



Eventually the stream flattened out, and the time came to turn around and head back from where I had walked in.


I stopped to photograph the sheath I got for my knife quickly...


And lingering on the way back, took some more photos while enjoying the sunshine and the moss.




The light faded, as it always seems to do, and I walked the last bit back to the car.


There's something nice about seeing my trusty Subaru Outback always waiting for me when I return.


And with dinner that night, after surviving the traffic back to the city, I enjoyed some good beer and reflected on the day. Success.