SOMETIMES, IT’S MORE ABOUT THE ADVENTURE

There’s this big creek (more of a river) east of where I live that is pretty remote in most places.  It sits in a lava-rimmed sagebrush canyon, which by all accounts, is loaded with rattle snakes.  But the river is reputed to hold some Yellowstone Cutthroat and a few big browns.  I always wanted to access the creek at somewhere other than where the few roads cross its path.

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The view before we dropped down into the river valley.

It just so happened that my brother in law, Kelly, had permission to access a remote stretch of this creek, so we decided to take our five year old sons, Ben and Hank, for an adventure the last day in June of 2018.  To get there, we had to drive a two track through a wheat field and then over the canyon rim down a sketchy road.  In the river valley we found an old homestead long-time abandoned.

After parking we hoofed across an overgrown cattle pasture to the willow-lined creek.  We had to maneuver through some swampy areas before we could reach the creek.  I ended up putting Ben on my back before leaping a swampy channel. That was interesting!  At least we didn’t see any rattlesnakes along the way.

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The Brush Busters making their way to the creek.

Upon reaching the creek, we found the flow was mostly just a slow meander.  Kelly and I fished our way up the creek, while Hank, an adventurous, fearless lad, swam all over the place.  On the other hand, my son, Ben, would wade, but when it got to deep, I had to give him a piggy back across the creek more than once.

At first the fishing was slow, but we caught a few small cutties using my Tenkara USA Rhodo and a Renegade in the deeper shaded pools.  The youngsters were the official fish releasors and enjoyed each little cutthroat.

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Hank and Ben loved to land and release the trout.
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Kids and cutties go together.
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Yep, that’s a leopard spotted trout (frog) that Hank caught by hand.

We worked our way along the creek’s course as it passed near an idyllic rim rock ridge.  We didn’t hit really good water until we came to an area where the stream gradient dropped quickly to create a riffle leading to a deeper run.  The run just had that fishy look.  As I guessed, the cutties were stacked up in this run.  I hooked many fish and then would hand the rod to Hank and Ben and let them try to get them in.  They giggled as they grabbed the line to bring the small fish in.

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Hank was fearless as we explored the creek.
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Hank, the trout slayer.
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The boys admire a nice trout on a Renegade.

No, we did not catch any fish over 12 inches, but we had fun exploring.  While fishing was the goal that brought us there, for this trip, it was really more about the adventure.  I enjoyed spending time with my son, nephew and brother in law in wild country.  The cutties were just the bonus.

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Kelly fishes the pool above the riffle.
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I had a blast with these guys.

 

 

MOUNTAIN LAKE TENKARA

I have been a practitioner of tenkara fishing for over five years now.  Like many of you, I have caught a lot of flack from friends, family, and others on social media about my enjoyment of the method, but I’m an attorney, so I am pretty thick-skinned.  The truth is, in many situations, tenkara is as effective (or more so) than a western rod.  For small creeks and rivers, I use nothing but tenkara, but still use a rod and reel for big rivers and streamer fishing.  Last year, for me, one area where the verdict was still out on the effectiveness of tenkara was alpine lake fishing.  I had done it before, but was not convinced it was an effective method.

Last July, I had the good fortune to hike with my daughter and a few others from church up to a high mountain lake on the Wyoming border.  While the hike was not super strenuous, it was long.  However, my pack was not too heavy with my lunch, water, and fishing gear.  The hike to the lower lake was about four miles and it is–at least–an extra five miles to reach the upper lake, but the hike was so worth it!

Upon reaching the lake, it was way bigger than I expected and its turquoise hue was absolutely stunning, but with the tight trees all around its banks, how would the fishing be?

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The view alone was well worth the hike.

Once at the lake, all the kids and youth leaders rested and ate their lunch, but I grabbed the Badger UNC tenkara rod, telescoped it out to length, and scanned the water for any cruising fish.  Sure enough, there was a nice cutthroat less than ten feet out.  I quickly cast the Renegade in its course and, without any caution at all, the fish rose up and sucked it in.  I hooked the fish, but it quickly got off before I could land it.

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The lake was loaded with beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroat.

Within a half hour’s time, I hooked and landed plenty of other good sized cutthroat, enough to bring one of my tenkara nay-saying friends, Scott Johnson, over to try his hand at a few.  I can honestly say that for this lake, tenkara was no handicap whatsoever for either of us.

My daughter Eden spent much of the lunch break hanging with her friends, but after watching Scott and I land numerous fish, she came over and said, “I want to catch some fish!”

“Okay, come climb up on this rock and look for cruising fish to cast to.” I replied.

As if she had been fly fishing her whole life, Eden began spotting fish and casting toward them.  We both watched eagerly as a fish rose to fly.  Eden struck, but was a bit slow the first try.

“Man, that was close!”  I lamented.  “Try it again!”  Fortunately, there is no shortage of targets in the lake and Eden quickly placed the fly in the path of another.

On the second strike, she drove the point home and was able to quickly land the trout.

“Alright, Eden!” I praised in excitement.

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Eden is a natural with the tenkara rod.

The leaders of the hike soon called for everyone to pack up and get back on the trail, but before time ran out, Eden landed three or four trout.  We hated to leave such a beautiful place.

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Eden bringing in a beautiful trout.

After this experience, I would without hesitation add tenkara as an effective method for high-mountain lake fishing.  I think my daughter Eden would agree.

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Eden with a nice cutthroat.