Monday, March 14, 2016

Day Trip to Cold Spring & A Visit to Old Souls

Last weekend I took a drive up to Cold Spring to walk around town looking at old things, as well as to check out a new store that opened recently called "Old Souls." They are an outdoor lifestyle store that has a nice selection of useful items and some limited, well chosen options on clothing. Of course, I took the opportunity to scout a few small streams on the way up from the city.

The first stream is pretty near Cold Spring and also near a road. It has a nice long section or two that look really idea. However, there is a lot of gravel and sand in the stream from erosion and runoff. I didn't see any fish either. Getting to Cold Spring, I walked around for a while and then found Old Souls.

They have a fly fishing section with a small selection of rods and a couple of kits. The displays are nice and do a good job of framing things in a way that makes you want them.

There is also selection of high end nippers and forceps as well as a range of reels. All the basics that you'd want are here. It must be hard to have a fly shop these days, so I think its smart of these guys to combine it with an outdoor lifestyle store to make it work. Anything that keeps the fly shops alive in some form makes me happy.

The store is well laid out and looks pretty good, too. This used to be a kayaking and more traditional outdoor supply store, and I remember coming here as a child. While its sad to see things like that change as you grow up, I really liked the new store.

Notice the display of Field Notes brand notebooks... they make a waterproof one that is absolutely incredible, and along with a space pen, it writes in any weather and can withstand a good soaking. I always carry one when I travel. There is also a great selection of bags, backpacks and wool blankets.

A few sets of waders and boots were cleverly situated and completed the fly fishing collection. I said hello the the staff and gave them some stickers and info on the NYC Tenkara Anglers before moving on. I wondered why they didn't have any Tenkara rods for sale in there, but the owner wasn't around so I didn't bother to discuss that with the (very friendly) employees working that day.  This place is clearly a perfect match for Tenkara, in many ways.

Heading out of town and farther north, I stopped at a more promising but smaller stream that offered only about 1/3 of a mile of public land access fishing. All the right elements were in place and I went for a short walk from the car to check it out. The sun was setting, there was a chilling breeze, and the light was just perfect.

The stream looked more promising than the last, and I soon stumbled upon a small trout, most likely a Brookie, in the pool below. It saw me and darted up under the log as fast as it could. I am looking forward to returning with a very specific rod in hand to fish this stream after opening day.

Because the season on these streams is still closed in New York, I took my time enjoying the light as the sun mingled just above the ridge-line behind me.

This tiny stream apparently offers a few challenging opportunities for wild brookies, and landing one here would be a real treat, as well as a test of small stream fishing skills.

Some of the structures here reminded me of miniature versions of places I had seen out west in the Rocky Mountains. Others were more distinctly "new york." 

Finally, after a short drive I visited a lake that a friend had recommended I check out as being stocked with large 14" rainbows. It had some picnic tables and grills, as well as a trail around the lake. There was a big lot and I have driven by and seen it full before.

I didn't see any fish trolling near the edge of the shelf, nor any rising. But it was cold and there was no hatch to entice them to the surface.  Clearly this isn't a spot to go for solitude during the warm season... 

But on this day it was exactly what I wanted. I sat and watched the sun dip before heading home.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

2 Guys, 2 Broken Rods, 2 Ravines - Reflecting on a New Jersey Late-Winter's Day.

I have a growing list of small streams to scout in New Jersey this year, and so I headed out to check some out with Sugi, who is kind of new to Tenkara. I figured the first one would be ideal given that it has just the right gradient and all the makings of a perfect wild trout stream, and that he'd be "reeling them in" in no time...

However, as we all know, things aren't always as good as they appear in this beautiful ravine... at least not every time. It was a cold day but the sun was strong. The ice was just beginning to melt off and the water was both very high, and freezing cold. That was the first sign that things weren't going to go as planned on this day.

After seeing some absolutely perfect water on the walk down, we started fishing some likely pools and plunges. I was in a good mood and with good company. But my mood went just a little bit south after catching nothing, as well as getting no hits, pool after pool. 

Even after staying really low, moving slowly and being sure to watch our rod's shadows, we still had nothing to show for it other than a broken rod section from an odd snag. At this point I was rather disappointed given where things had gone. I decided not to fight it and just enjoy the scenery. I spooled my line and gladly accepted Sugi's call for a lunch break.

I was particularly happy about the idea of having some home made Onigiri (rice balls) that Sugi had generously brought along to share. The Nori he had for wrapping them was extremely good, although harder to work with than the stuff I have bought on occasion. It didn't matter if it tore a bit, the taste was excellent.

To my absolute delight, he also pulled out some home made Tamago (slices of slightly-sweet cooked egg mixture) as well as some Japanese sausage. Suddenly the lack of trout seemed less stupid and I began to formulate a plan for the rest of the day.

I decided the best move would be to change locations and find a stream that didn't flow out of a pond that was melting out at the moment. I figured just a few more degrees and a tiny bit less flow would put us on the fish. I decided we'd hit the next closest spot from my list, which is a well known area that was severely damaged from an epic and historic stalled-storm not too many years ago.

This ravine is a beautiful place, and had some spots to park and grill along a small dirt road that wound part of the way along the stream. Speaking of which, this stream is very small. It runs fast and roars down the hill quickly, often seemingly forced between impossibly-narrow walls of rock that can barely contain its energy.

I found a small wild brook trout in this pool almost right away, and I watched as he wagged his head in the crystal clear water, being pulled to the surface by my small stream rod. However, he had the upper hand and threw my barbless hook as I allowed some slack in the line by mistake.

Exploring farther up it was clear that the storm had scoured the banks of this ravine and washed out so many of the places that create safe havens for wild trout. It appears that work has already begun to repair some of the damage, and I have read that a large scale project has been approved and may or may not have already begun at this point. 

Additionally, travel along the stream is almost impossible, as witnessed when a rod cracked during a hard fall. At least bones remained in tact! That made 2 broken rod sections in one day. Ouch. Talk about bad luck. A copperhead snake slithered ahead of me and I remarked to myself "what the &@$%!" but nobody was there to hear it. The snake sure didn't care. Nature is pretty cool.

The fishing is so difficult and the damage so obvious on this stream that I probably will not return here for at least a decade, if at all. The stream needs no additional pressure from me. But even so, the new plantings and smaller bushes that have taken hold, after the proud evergreens that used to protect and shade these plunge-pools were ripped clean from the earth by the storm, made it almost impossible to get more than 1-2 seconds of either guided or dead drift, if any drift at all.

I stowed the rod and walked the stream in awe of its raw power and beauty, which was almost in complete contrast to its size and location. But that's what makes these places magical. We must do our best to protect them and help them recover when either human impact OR natural disaster may be at fault. Possibly, with a little bit of care, investment of time and funds, as well as some luck, this very spot could once again bring joy and fishing success to a younger generation... It reminds me that the things we do in this life affect the lives of those who come after us. Always a good thing to keep in mind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

NYC Tenkara Angler's Club Inaugural Group Trip on the Naugatuck River

Happy to report that the 1st ever NYC Tenkara Angler's Club trip was a success, and well attended at that! It was really reassuring to see so much interest and from a broad range of people. We had a really nice group of 8 people and met at the river at 10:30AM on a Sunday.

We started as a group near the bridge. This run can be productive and I found a fish within the first few minutes. It was a decent size rainbow, maybe 14 inches or so.

What nice colors on this rainbow. I assume it was a hold over stocked fish.

Nick Park tries out his new Tenkara Rod Co Mini Sawtooth rod with a Furled leader. It casts much better that way than with a level line. Go for at least a #4 level line if you don't use furled leaders.

Bruce and Connie fished above us in the run, and had made the Trek from NJ to join us on the water. Connie ended up landing a nice fat rainbow farther up the river after we split up to find more good water to fish.

Chris (of Tenkarabum) was hunting for some of the broodstock landlocked salmon that are stocked in this river each year. A 20-foot carp rod would certainly have little problem landing the fish. There is plenty of overhead space to allow for the longer rods on this river. Single barbless hooks only, with no extra weight on the line make for difficult deep water salmon fishing.

I was using the Suntech Grayce II, which zooms from 4.7-5.2 meters. I spent a lot of time practicing my cast... having a good early stop is important when fishing with a long rod... the rod does so much of the "work" for you. Its wonderful to see all the line shooting out in front of you, almost like the "spey casting" of fixed line fishing. 

This shot shows how high the water was... usually you can see plenty of rocks in those plunges. This made for difficult fishing. The weather was nice, getting into the high 40's when the sun came out. These berries were lingering from their late fall birth and grabbed the eye... a maze of blue and grey amongst the leafless twigs.

My favorite run was flooded out... in fact the entire river was running crazy high. The water was extremely cold, around 39 degrees. Usually this run is good for a few fish, but there was nothing biting on this particular day. Even the heaviest of flies wasn't doing the trick.

Below, Nick drifts a fly through a notorious Salmon lie. We likely weren't getting deep enough for them or the trout, given the fact that the water levels were so high. The long walk in from the parking lot leaves some of these spots with slightly less pressure, but the fish didn't seem like they were feeding much anyway.

Walking along the trail there's always a lot of debris and unfortunately, more trash than most rivers I fish. In many spots one can see the damage done from ice dams, floods and civilization alike. Nature attempts to reclaim but alas, we've come to naming areas like "Car door run" and "shopping cart pool..." you get the point. I always carry some trash out when I head back to the car.

Although only a few of us landed fish, it was a fun day and a great opportunity to meet some new people and fish with a new group. I am looking forward to our monthly club outings. If you're interested in joining us on the water, send an email to info(at) and we'll get you on the mailing list. Or find us on facebook at -