ROOT BEERS, MILKSHAKES, RENEGADES & MOUNTAIN LAKES

My parents had eight kids and now all of my siblings are married with kids of their own.  So, to sum it up, the Wayment family is simply huge (pronounced like the POTUS).  We all love each other, get along, and treasure the rare times when we can be together.  Last July, we rented a cabin in Garden City, Utah for a much-needed family reunion.  I believe the last time all of us were together was when our beloved dad passed away in 2014.

When the Wayment Family gets together, you can pretty much bet on three things: (1) Some of us are going hunting or fishing; (2)  Mexican Food will be eaten (or some other good food like Cajun or BBQ); and (3) gourmet root beers will be consumed (we’re Mormons so we don’t drink alcohol).  Last year’s reunion was no exception to this rule.

 

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Speaking of Mormons, this root beer named after Brigham Young was one of my favorites from the trip.
Most of the family arrived at the cabin on Thursday, July 7th and we just sat around and enjoyed each other’s company.  Brother Shawn had brought a whole cooler of gourmet root beers and, of course, we sampled a few.

The following day we had to spend the obligatory time on the sandy beaches of the Idaho side of Bear Lake, the “Caribbean of the Rockies.”  Honestly, I can take or leave that, but my kids enjoy it.  I talked my wife into sneaking away to go get one of those famous raspberry milkshakes Bear Lake is known for, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

After dinner, things improved tremendously as my daughter, Nessy, and brother Scott agreed to go fishing with me on St. Charles Creek in Idaho.  My nephews, Jared, Easton, and Steele also tagged along for the adventure.  Nessy and I shared a Tenkara USA Rhodo rod and Scott and Jared used their western fly rods and reels.   The creek was overgrown in most places making it difficult to cast and to wade, but we caught a few small trout.   In a seam where two currents conjoined below an island, a beautiful brook trout rolled on my  Renegade and I quickly brought him to hand.  Nessy got a little frustrated with the thickness of the foliage and the technicality of the creek, but gave it a good effort.  Our problem was that we had a hard time finding water open enough for her to cast.

As darkness descended upon us, we came upon a high beaver dam.  In the failing light, we could see the wink of rising trout in the calm water above the dam.  My tenkara rod did not have the length to reach these fish, so I borrowed my nephew, Jared’s rod and reel.  I caught a few fish on Renegades, including a nice Bonneville Cutthroat.  Though the fishing was a little tough, everyone had fun.  We capped off the night with a raspberry milkshake in Garden City.  That made two in one day for me.  Can life get any better?  I submit that it cannot!

 

Saturday, the bulk of the Wayment clan hiked up to a popular high mountain lake.   I’d tell you the name, but the lake is already so overcrowded as it is.  Have you ever seen that video meme on Facebook in which a dude swings on a rope swing out into this pristine lake and gets munched by a monstrous fish? I believe that video was taken at this particular lake.  Too bad there aren’t any monster fish in the lake like the one in the meme.

Once at the lake, I used my 2-weight St. Croix Ultra Legend rod and reel , Tommy, the Rhodo, and Nessy, the Badger Tenkara Medium Flex Classic.  I caught a bunch of fish on Pistol Petes.  Both Tom and Ness caught fish on nymphs.  The water was so clear that we sight-casted to cruising fish both in the lake proper and its outlet.

 

After catching one particular rainbow, Nessy shed a few tears as she worried that it would not make it.

With a smile on my face, I said to her, “There’s no crying in fishing!” as I helped her unhook and release the fish back into the lake.  And, if you are wondering, it swam off and we did not see it go belly up.  So that was a relief.

I really enjoy fishing high mountain lakes.  This may be sacrilege for a tenkara blog, but tenkara is not the best tactic for lake fishing because you can’t cast as far or strip the flies in like you can in western streamer fishing.  However, it is a great method for kids because the rods are easy to cast and kids learn quickly that you simply have to move the rod tip to move the fly.  I was glad to see my kids catch a few on tenkara by themselves.

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Nothing gets me more excited than to see my kids learning to love fishing.
To sum up, the Wayment Bear Lake Family Reunion was a good time.  It was fun to be together with my favorite people on earth in such a beautiful place.  I drank a total of four raspberry milkshakes (the family record, I think) and who knows how many root beers?  Shawn and I got to shoot our bows a few evenings.  And, to top it off, we caught a few trout.  I’d call that a successful trip if ever there was one.

Shawn shoots the long bow…I mean a recurve.
That’s some dang good root beer right there!
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Most of the Wayment grandkids, but not all. That’s a pretty big pile of kids!
 

 

 

 

 

 

BADGER TENKARA CLASSIC-MEDIUM FLEX

(Note to Readers:  I first wrote this review of the Badge Tenkara Classic-Medium Flex on Upland Ways in March of 2015.  I sure do appreciate the guys from Badger helping me get into tenkara.  I thought the readers of this blog might enjoy this!)

In the last few years, it seems like just about everyone has jumped aboard the Tenkara bandwagon. Tenkara seems to be everywhere in social media Facebook, Instagram, and numerous blogs. Some may argue that this is just a fad that will pass. No doubt, fads come and go, but what do you say about something that has been around for over 200 years?

 For those of you who don’t know, Tenkara is an old form of fly fishing invented in Japan. A Tenkara rod is much longer than your typical fly rod (i.e. 12 to 14 feet as opposed to 7 to 9 feet) and there is no reel. The modern Tenkara rods telescope outward.

When I first read about this form of fishing, it piqued my curiosity, but—based upon the written descriptions—I really didn’t quite understand how it worked. However, last fall, a good friend of mine, Matt Tower, agreed to show me how to Tenkara fish after a grouse hunt. I took him to a favorite hole on a tiny stream I call “Trickle Creek” and even filmed him catching a nice trout.  Matt let me try it out and I instantly became a fan of Tenkara fishing and had to have one.

I approached the gentlemen from Badger Tenkara—Matthew Sment and Mike Lutes—about reviewing one of their rods and they graciously agreed. I explained that I planned to fish it on small mountain creeks and asked for their suggestion. Within a week, I received the Badger Tenkara Classic-Medium Flex rod. This telescoping 12 foot rod came in a nice plastic green tube, with screw on lids that open at either end. The rod itself was in a black cloth sheath. They also sent me about twelve feet of Badger fly line. In short, everything is super nice.

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Unlike a regular fly rod, there are no ferules on a Tenkara rod. Rather, the line is attached to a small piece of woven nylon at the rod’s tip called a “Lillian.” I had to go to the Badger Tenkara’s webpage to learn how to tie the appropriate knots for the line-to-Lillian and the line-to-tippet connections.

Matt Tower fishing Trickle Creek.
Matt Tower fishing Trickle Creek.
The same week I received the rod, I called Matt Tower and we planned again to fish Trickle Creek with our Tenkara rods. Though the creek was low and clear, the numerous Yellowstone Cutts rose to nearly every well-presented fly. The real challenge was to not spook the fish with a clumsy approach or cast. I missed the first few fish as my timing was a little off with a twelve foot rod (as opposed to the seven foot rod I typically use), but I eventually dialed in and started to catch a few small cutthroat.

Andy fishing Trickle Creek.
Andy fishing Trickle Creek.
At first, I found it a little difficult to keep the line from tangling in the tall brush around me and I snagged my fly in the trees overhead more than once. I think that comes with trying to get used to a longer rod and the loose line. Matt had purchased some line keepers from amazon.com so that when we moved to the next hole, he simply wrapped all his line on the keepers above the rod’s cork handle to keep it from tangling with all the natural obstructions that lay before us. I will definitely invest in this for this summer and fall fishing. All said, I caught numerous fish that evening and missed many others. I truly enjoyed myself, but was surprised that it was more difficult for me than I expected.

Tenkara means "from Heaven" in Japanese.
Tenkara means “from Heaven” in Japanese.
My major goal last fall for acquiring the Tenkara rod was to be able to quickly fish while out bird hunting as it seems that grouse and trout are often in close proximity. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to use the Badger Tenkara rod as much as I would have liked last hunting season. However, there was this one glorious day mid-October that was the perfect opportunity. Mother Nature was showing off in all of her autumn splendor that day and the hunting was phenomenal. By 4:00 p.m., I already had two blues and one ruffed grouse in the bag. I wrote the following about the remainder of this wonderful afternoon:

Even though I do not yet have my limit of four birds, I decide that three is plenty. I turn back down the road and head for the car with a smile on my face. The only thing that would make this day any better is to catch a cutthroat out of Trickle Creek and that is exactly what I plan to do with my new Badger Tenkara Rod. Once back to the car, I load up the dogs and drive up the road to fish a favorite stretch of the creek.

After stringing up the Tenkara rod, I tie on one of Shawn’s Chubby Mormon Girls and start fishing the familiar water. In a deep hole, a large yellow fish rises and I miss it. I cast the fly into the hole again and the same big cutty rises again. I stick him, but he is off in a flash. This has to be the biggest fish I have ever seen on Trickle Creek.

In the skinny water, the fish are skittish, but I manage to catch four or five beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroats, none the likes of the one that got away, but special nonetheless. My love for this special canyon, its birds, its little creek, and trout abounds.

And so did my love of Tenkara fishing. I can honestly say that the Badger Tenkara rod was perfect for what I had in mind that glorious fall day.

So what do I think of Tenkara fishing? I love the simplicity of it. Notice that I did not say that Tenkara fishing is “simple” because it is not. Rather, it hails back to a time when life was simpler—when man did not have all of the conveniences of modern life but made do with what he had. In that sense, Tenkara never was or will be a passing fad. A friend of mine with whom I often fish recently teased me about taking up Tenkara fishing and said that “Fishing without a reel is like riding a bike with training wheels.” I think maybe it’s the other way around. Oh well, to each his own.

No reel necessary.
No reel necessary.
As I did a little research for this article, I found that the word “tenkara” means “from heaven” in Japanese. Honestly, that made me love Tenkara fishing even more. Indeed, any fly fishing—including Tenkara—is heavenly.

*****
I appreciate Matt Sment and Mike Lutes from Badger Tenkara for allowing me to review the Badger Tenkara Classic-Medium Flex. The rod is reasonably priced ($85.00 to $105.00) and casts great. I have no problem recommending the followers of the Tenkara Wandering to Badger Tenkara for all their Tenkara needs. Matt and Mike are great guys and are more than willing to answer any questions that you have to help you get started—not to mention that Mike has great taste in music (“I want to make friends with the Badger!” –The Dead Milkmen). Here is the link to Badger Tenkara’s website.

"I want to make friends with the Badger!!!"  --The Dead Milkmen.
“I want to make friends with the Badger!!!” –The Dead Milkmen.