Tenkara: I'm in.
Tenkara. If you read this goofy blog even semi regularly, you have noticed lately that I have been dipping my toe into fixed line fishing. Until last weekend that is. I can now say I've officially jumped in...cannonball style.
Not coincidentally, the inaugural Midwest Tenkara Fest took place last weekend in Coon Valley Wisconsin, and as if that weren't enough....I also had the absolute honor to fish with a guy I have steadily
stalked followed online for the last few years. Michael Agneta from Troutrageous.
The Midwest Tenkara Fest was organized, and put on by the guys from Badger Tenkara. Yeah, that's right...the same guys who went out of their way to help me get my start in Tenkara. Matt, once again your passion for this sport has shined brightly. Thank you for all the work that was put into making the fest a raging success.
Oh...yeah...and it all went down in an area so rich in trout, stream access and beautiful country that some could almost consider the driftless a "Theme Park". Actually, now also seems like an appropriate time to mention that the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources and Trout Unlimited have teamed up and done a world class job of managing these amazing resources. It seems they have done such a wonderful job that all but the most negative of people can enjoy it to the fullest. That, all by itself is GREAT for the sport of trout fishing.
(...and....exhale. Yep. I gotta admit...that just felt damn good to put in writing.....)
Getting back to Tenkara for a moment...it has taken a little time for me to really digest where I'm at with it. Here it is: I dig it. A LOT. I like pretty much everything about it. In fact, over the last few days, social media and blog posts have literally blown up with posts from people who were involved with the fest. The community around Tenkara and specifically Tenkara in this corner of the world has proven to be one of the most fun, positive and close knit groups I've ever met in the fly fishing world. That alone is enough to draw me into Tenkara, but the simple fact that it is a ton of fun is what will sustain.
|Troutrageous teaching me Tenkara without even realizing it...all while cracking the code on Timber Coulee|
As for fishing with Mr.Agneta, I had a freaking blast. Mike taught me more about Tenkara than I thought was possible. He was also very patient with me as I asked stupid Tenkara fishing questions like "so....exactly what am I supposed to do with my left hand when I'm casting??" The answer, by the way, was dangerously simple--which I appreciated. "Put it in your pocket". Of course, I was tempted to follow up with "But...what should I do if my waders don't have pockets?" But I quickly bit my tongue out of respect.
One really dumb question was quite enough. After all, he had traveled halfway across the continent to be there, on this stream with me and I didn't really want him to be left wondering if I was the kind of guy who eats cereal with a fork...
As we fished, I recognized that while I really enjoy Tenkara, there are still several reasons and situations to warrant not to giving up my western setup completely. In fact, I split my time between Tenkara and Western setup (4wt). After using a fixed line, it felt a lot like cheating to strip off as much line as needed to make that hero cast upstream to that seam where a fish was happily slurping caddis...but that all went away when it was rewarded with a tight line attached to some sweet driftless brown.
The only real disappointment I had over the course of the weekend was a camera that was dropped in the stream even before I had wet a line on Monday. As a result, the number of pictures I had planned to take was quickly curtailed. Luckily the camera eventually dried out and works again but it took a couple of days. Thankfully Mike took plenty of his own and does a great job of telling the story at Troutrageous.com.
After it is all said and done, I can honestly say it was a stellar fishing trip and I am fully sold on Tenkara fishing. Mike, from me to you--thank you! I hope you enjoyed the fishing as much as I did. I will be keeping a close eye out for opportunities to make my way south...
To everyone who attended the Midwest Tenkara Fest...it was a great time, and I can't wait to see y'all again next year!