Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tenkara Summit 2015 Part 2 - before the summit, continued.

Picking up where I left off, I headed back to the cabin to meet up with Adam Trahan of, but not without snapping a few more photos of the mountains on the way down.

One of first great moments of getting to hang was a chance to see the Sebata setup that Adam sometimes uses. I like how he isn't locked into one style or idea of Tenkara, yet is willing to engage in other anglers' systems and methods in order to learn and understand.

These are the Yuzo Sebata flies. Beautiful and very different. The body material is some kind of "tape" from what I understand. There's a lot more to learn and plenty of info about the Yuzo Sebata setup, so I encourage you to check it out online.

Another wonderful moment... Onigiri, Sake and a beautiful cup that Adam brought as a gift. 

We enjoyed some (very delicious) sake thanks to Adam and then decided to hit the Big Thompson river right outside the cabin.

It was browns and rainbows near our Cabin, and the rainbows just couldn't resist the action of the little ugly bugger-style fly I was fishing.

All my flies seemed to get attention so far... traditional Kebari, dries and bead head flies as well. The fish were hungry in these small streams. But so were we, and we headed out to the Stanley Hotel to see what it was all about and grab a bite.

We were beat and service was slow at the Stanley, so we headed back to the cabin to crash after dinner. Waking up early the next morning, we headed up the canyon and towards the lower section of a creek I had fished alone the day before. I was hoping for some larger fish.

It was beautiful, but VERY cold. There had been a bit of snow from the night before and we could see it blanketing the mountains. The water was a lot colder too, and I knew fishing would be different.

I had no luck on or near the surface, so I started fishing deep in the water column.
 I was as intrigued by the surroundings as the fishing. Maybe more intrigued by the surroundings, given that the fishing was slow.

I hooked into a couple of smaller brookies, but wasn't able to bring any to net. Adam caught a few, but we didn't have much time and packed up to head back towards town for some afternoon plans that had already been made.

Adam headed off to meet with some other people he had plans with, while I grabbed a sandwich and headed towards the Fern Lake trailhead to hopefully meet up with Glenn & Bruce, to fish the Big Thompson up towards "the pool" and Forest Canyon.

With some huge stroke of luck, being that cell phones didn't work well up there, Glenn & Bruce were late to the trailhead too, meaning that we literally pulled in at exactly the same time, grabbing the LAST two spots in the lot. Talk about lucky/good timing!

The hike in was about 1.7 miles, rolling terrain without too much elevation change. That was a good thing, since the altitude really affected my ability to hike.

I took my time, soaking in the sun and the views. We were lucky on so many levels for this event... 5 days of almost perfect weather, with just a bit of wind to deal with. But even that had slowed, and we found prime fishing conditions when we arrived.

I think Bruce had the first fish in this hole, and I missed one here after he moved up.

Glenn was casting to some Brookies that were hiding under a rock, but they didn't seem to want to take his fly. The cold water had the fish holding deeper.

Moving up to another pool above this area, we spotted some rising fish. Bruce coaxed a couple of fish to his fly, using an ant pattern. I tried a few flies and finally got a hit on an Italian Valsesiana-style soft hackle dry. It was my "lucky fly" that was tied by Paolo Cerrina in Italy, and has worked where other dries have failed quite a few times this year. Unfortunately I don't have any of the feathers that he used, which seem pretty specific, so I haven't been able to tie any more of these. 

Glenn had to head out to meet with his wife and mother-in-law, so Bruce and I collapsed the rods and hiked the rest of the way up to "the pool," where I caught, possibly, the nicest fish of the trip for me.

I am not sure if its a Greenback or not, although another angler suggested it was when I showed him the picture later on. Either way, it was a beautiful cutthroat, and I was happy to have found what I had been searching for on this day.

After some difficult navigation down into the canyon, Bruce and I began to pick apart the stream, pool by pool.

There were plenty of fish and plenty of pools, and it was easy to share the water. I caught some browns, a brookie, and another Cutthroat along the way.

Here Bruce was trying to catch a particularly large rising fish in the "cave" under that rock.

The Canyon was tight... very difficult navigation and lots of blowdown to navigate around and squeeze through.

It was more than worth it, as the scenery seemed to improve with each bend in the creek.

I was hoping that we'd be able to reach the point where Spruce Creek and the Big T meet, where more cutthroats would apparently be found.

However, we ran out of time as the sun began to dip, and we knew we could be far from the trail... either having to bushwhack back towards where we assumed the trail was, or re-trace our steps through very tight quarters, criss-crossing the river a few times.

 After a quick map check, we chose the latter option and began to make our way back down river, as to ensure we didn't lose our bearings. On the way back, I stopped to fish a pool that I had commented as looking particularly great on the way up.

As I was about to give up after a few casts, this beautiful and sizable brown slammed my fly. I was happy to have landed one last fish for the day.

The hike out was beautiful too, and we made it in plenty of time to avoid hiking in the dark.

One of the most wonderful parts of the forest out in CO are the old pines. Tall, proud trees they are, with such beautiful color and a grandeur that I could not quite capture on film, as much as I tried.

Driving back at dusk, the Elk were running in the field and feeding as many people stopped to watch.

As everyone was enthralled by the Elk, I turned my head to see a sunset of epic proportions. I took a photo to remember the moment, and then headed back down out of the Canyon. 

Another great day of fishing and hiking in the park had me totally wrecked, and with an early rise the following morning for the Tenkara Summit itself, I decided to grab a quick pizza at "Antonio's Real New York Pizza" and called it a day. Summary - it was good... in fact, better than expected by far. Recommended. Heading back to the cabin, some little baby elk were playing by the side of the road (can I call them Elklings please?)  Little did I know I'd have a much closer run in the next day, but I'll save that story for another post...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tenkara Summit 2015 Part 1 - before the summit.

Where to begin... so much to write about after the last week fishing in Colorado and attending the 2015 Tenkara USA Summit. I'll try to tell more in photos than words.

The trip started on Boulder Creek before shifting to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park for the Summit.

Bruce met me on South Boulder Creek to show me around some of the spots he liked to fish. It was nice to connect with new people and then meet them in their home waters. 

I've made a habit of doing that this year and its been rewarding and eye-opening, to say the least.

I hadn't caught much, just hooked into a few fish that wiggled off. Bruce already had a few.

We moved upstream and I was fishing behind Bruce. I caught a small one, but it was off before I could grab a photo. Then I noticed this incredible pool and decided to get my fly under the boulder.

I'm glad I decided to do that, because first cast had a nice strike and a miss, but the second cast had me into one of the largest Tenkara Brown trout I've ever had on my line, and likely the largest I've ever landed.

Bruce took a few pictures with my camera. I rarely take these kinds of photos but I have to admit it was a little bit of fun.

A beautiful brown, revived and released after a 5 minute fight that had my rod singing... what a treat for the beginning of the trip. 

We hit a few more spots and then I called it a morning. Wild peas were all around as we walked back to the car.

I spent the afternoon exploring Boulder and then headed off to Estes Park to check into my cabin. I had no idea what to expect but I knew it would be an adventure.

The cabin was very small, with a great little deck looking out onto the Big Thompson River.  Excellent.

I relaxed for a few moments, but was too excited to slow down just yet, so I went fishing.

Some nice browns...

.... and rainbows too.

It was a nice small stream, not so different from some of the spots I had fished in Valle Varaita, Italy this past July.

I drove up towards the park the next morning. A possible storm was blowing through.

While it was brewing higher up in the mountains, I drove up along a lower ridgeline to check out the terrain, and enjoyed the Aspens changing color agains the tall Pines.

A rainbow signified the end of the storm, which was to be the only one of the entire trip. What incredible luck I had on this vacation.

I spotted some Elk on the way up into the park, this was all new to me.

Up high it was mostly pine trees, with a few Aspens mixed in here and there.

I made a quick stop at Sprague Lake to watch the Brookies run up the little inlet. They weren't interested in flies, nor were they spooked by my presence. These fish are and invasive species up here, which was rather hard to Stomach, coming from New York.

I was getting antsy, and it was time to try to catch some fish. Driving up the windy road into the park, I found the spot I had been looking for on the map...

 Glacier Gorge lot was full, but luckily someone was just leaving. I filled my Zimmerbuilt Guide Sling for a morning of fishing, and headed out along a popular hiking trail. I saw no other fishermen on the streams. They all had western rigs and were headed to the lakes. The ones coming down didn't have any great fish tales, and I knew I was making the right call sticking to the fast running water.

It was hard not to be excited by the overwhelming surroundings and the opportunity to immerse myself in the alpine environment.

I had bough Steve Schweitzer's book about fishing RMNP, and I had scouted a few spots. The first one was Chaos Creek. I don't feel so bad naming creeks here because there just doesn't seem to be an overwhelming pressure compared to the fish's abilities to reproduce. 

The stream was tiny, and I was in heaven. I began to work my way up the bank and was immediately into some fish.

I had never caught any Cutthroat Trout before, and I was hoping to get a few different kinds into my net over the course of the next few days.

My prospecting work was rewarded with this nice little cut on the 2nd or third cast.

You can see the telltale markings at the underside of the gills.

I pulled two fish from that productive pool, and began to work through all the little holes.

Brookies were mixed in.... 

I had many opportunities to hook fish, but I didn't land them all. Each pool held something, which was impressive, to say the least.

I approached low and picked up another cut in the pool above.

The stream reconnected with the trail a ways up, and the scenery was breathtaking.

Not to mention that the altitude was literally taking my breath away too.

But all the hard work paid off....

With stream brookies that put most to shame out east!

The nicest Cut of the day was taken in this pool, after I had already caught the more aggressive brookie and released him in a run, below.

Some onlookers were watching me fish under the bridge...

Where I pulled out another nice brook trout.

And in a tiny run just above, this nice Cut, the last of the afternoon for me.

I collapsed the rod and headed back for the car - it was time to meet up with Adam Trahan from

I snapped a few more photos and drove down towards the exit.

Stopping on the meadow road, I watched a herd of Elk and listened to their calls. I could have stayed a while, but there were people to meet and other places to fish. More to follow soon!