February 19, 2019


I recently was thinking about some of the wonderful times I've had over the past years of fishing tenkara. In all that time I only fished a western rod once. I've caught a lot of fish, met some great people, and gone some amazing places. Here are just a few that I remember from over the past seven years:

My daughters first fish.  I had started fishing tenkara early in 2012 and became so impressed over the next few months that I had offered to take one of my daughters along on one of my outings. The day we went was freezing cold; a 20 degree F, grey cloudy day. I put her in some of my older neoprene waders and bundled her up as best as I could. If we had been western fly fishing she wouldn't have stood a chance, she could barely move! We waded out in to the river and got to a hole were I knew there were fish. I handed her the TUSA Iwana, gave a little instruction on how to cast it and what to watch for as the line moved downstream and told her to "go for it". She made a few casts and let the line drift with the current. On the fourth or fifth cast the line hesitated. I shouted "set" and she lifted the rod tip and was into her first fish. She ended up catching about 6 rainbows in 30 minutes. Tenkara made all the difference. I'm sure none of the fish survived the freezing air and dry wool gloves, but that did not matter. They gave her a great amount of joy and to them I say thank you!

Teaching my granddaughter to fish. I was visiting my oldest daughter in Arkansas one summer and took my oldest granddaughter fishing. We fished Little Sugar Creek, just downstream from Lake Bella Vista dam and caught numerous bluegill. She did great with her little Kiyotaki rod.

Fishing western Wyoming. I love the Tetons. I always have. I worked in the Rockefeller Parkway/Teton Wilderness for 4 summers in the late 1970's and fell in love with the wild places that I saw. On one late summer day my second daughter (the one that caught the fish earlier in this post) and her husband wanted to go climbing in Teton Canyon. I said that I would go along for moral support; my climbing days are long over. They climbed the granite cliffs in the canyon and after a while I decided to leave them to themselves and go fishing. I had a wonderful hour fishing Teton Creek for (invasive) brook trout. The water levels were low but the fish were willing. They were such beautiful fish!

Fishing Henry's Fork. I live a stones throw away from the world famous Henry's Fork. I don't fish it much, as it's not my kind of water. But every once and a while it makes for a fun outing, especially in winter. I remember one such outing many years ago where I went in winter and fished just downstream from the Warm River confluence. There were other people there but they were all fishing western style with indicators and nymphs. Nobody was having much success. I was able to get into a nice pod of fish and took many over a half an hour. The fish were strong and fun on my fixed line rod. An Idaho F&G officer came over to see what I was doing to catch the fish (and to check my license). We had a nice discussion regarding tenkara.

Vlog of my outings. As many of you know, over the past years I have occasionally videoed my fishing outings. I don't do it all the time, but every once and a while it's fun to do. It has allowed me go back and remember specific days and trips, and its been a great way to video journal. Along with standard POV video I've tried to make it more interesting by using other techniques such as 3rd person view. That's a real pain to do while fishing but it does give a fun perspective. I still enjoy going through my YouTube channel and watching my old videos and reminiscing.

The first Tenkara Summit. I was able to attend the first Tenkara Summit in the summer of 2012. Tenkara was something that was still pretty new and so attendance was light and the meeting was intimate. Dr. Ishigaki presented the history of tenkara in Japan and provided us with some of his personal experiences and tenkara anecdotes. He speaks little English so his scripted presentation was translated in real time via an interpreter. Following Dr. Ishigaki another Japanese guest, Mr. Kiyoshi Ishihara spoke about Yamamoto Soseki, a well known (at least in Japan) tenkara fisherman who wrote prolifically on the subject. Soseki published many journal articles and books on tenkara. I was able to meet many of the early USA adopters of tenkara. I need to get to another summit sometime.

Since my oldest daughter lives in Arkansas I get to go to that beautiful state to see my grandchildren.
Often when I'm there I'll drive an hour north to Crane Creek. Crane Creek isn't like any creek that I fish in WYIdaho. But it has the attraction of having some of the last pure strain McCloud River rainbows left in the United States. They are notoriously difficult to catch and so I couldn't resist trying. Every time I fish Crane Creek I get schooled. My most memorable visit was when I met up with Alan Luecke. I had met Alan at one of the Oni Schools in Utah and we decided to go fishing together if we ever got the chance. We had a great time fishing Crane Creek. It was one of the best of my tenkara adventures over the years.

My son in law's first trout. I have two sons in law from Alaska. Yes, two (and no, I've never been to Alaska). I would have never guessed my girls would marry Alaskans, but going away to college can do that. Neither of my sons in law fished much, even growing up in Alaska, so I was the one who got to teach them how to fish. One son in law, the one married to my Arkansas daughter, had never caught a trout. So I took him to Roaring River State Park in Missouri. This channelized stream is planted with thousands of trout and people just walk the bank trying to catch them. Needless to say the trout are pretty acclimatized to people. They've seen everything from power bait to spinners to flies. When we arrived there we picked a pool where there were a lot of trout holding in the current. I decided that since these trout see everything we would go small. I put on a #16 parachute ant for an indicator fly and then a dropper fly, a #18 PT nymph. Low and behold after just a few minutes my son in law was into his first trout! Over the next 30 minutes we both took many trout. The trout invariably took the PT nymph. We took so many that other people started to come over and throw their lines into our section of the river. No one else caught anything. We caught them right from under their noses!

Fishing with my son. I've had the opportunity to occasionally fish with my son despite his (and mine) busy life and schedule. We fished together some when he was young, but it was when he was older that I enjoyed the most. On one such occasion I met him in northern Utah and we fished a couple of small streams for browns and cutthroats. He now going to law school in the midwest, but I still think back on the times we went fishing together.

Yes, I've had some great memories brought to me by fishing tenkara. I think though that some of my most cherished are times when I drive into the mountains by my house and fish for an hour or two for the native cutthroats that hide in the cool waters of the small creek there. The warm, fresh mountain air, the silence of trees, and the coolness of the creek all make me happy to be alive.


  1. Ah ha, so that's what an Alaskan looks like! lol :)

    Very nice memories post.

    1. Yes, amazingly enough, they look they same as the rest of us! Thank goodness (for my grandchildren's sake)!

  2. Tom, when I grow up I want to be just like you.

    1. I was thinking the same thing, but I want to be like you! Traveling the world catching trout, what a life!

  3. Hey I know that Kiyotaki!

  4. Family time and fish, doesn’t get much better! I’m new to the tenkara world, looking forward to it.


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