I could catch these fish all day. Each one is a gift. And not a gift from the stocking truck – the hatchery doesn’t grow ’em like that.. Though not huge – they are stream appropriate fish. It is not a large stream – it doesn’t have many deep pools, and it is not that fertile. It even has some pH issues. So when I catch a nicely proportioned fish – regardless of overall size I am pretty darn happy.
Tenkara – and fly fishing in general – can be pretty darn easy sometimes. You cast a fly and you catch a fish. I’ve said it before, on these small mountain streams sometimes the whole thing is STEALTH. The fish are there, the fish will move to a fly, the structure is easy to read. It all comes down to stealth.
Stealth is not all about crouching and walking slowly – though it is about that. It is also about casting accuracy and delicacy. Most of the small mountain streams that I fish are not super high gradient streams with roiling plunge pools and lots of fast white water. My are usually pretty gentle with small sections of pocket water, small runs, occasional deep pools and long shallow pools with a small plunge at the head.
The small pools, pockets and runs with broken surface water are fairly easy to sneak up on. The long skinny pools present the greatest challenge. If you are experienced you will know that those brook trout like to hang at the tail of the pools, and actually all through these pools. The water is slow – but still moving and they can just hang and eat from the drifting buffet without much effort. This presents the challenge – any disturbance of that smooth water usually sends fish scattering. Cast with caution! Here is when the light tenkara line really shines. Sure a long leader on a western rig can do the trick – bit often the fishing may be too tight to make that practical. That is not a problem with the tenkara though – especially when using level lines or light furled lines. But it has to be a light furled line that can float – and that lands on the water like a feather. For my preferences some furled lines are way too heavy to do the trick.
So cast into the tail of the pool before getting too close. I used to always try and spot a fish and then cast above the fish and drift the fly down stream to it. However, this is often unsuccessful for me because the fish is spooked. What I’ve started doing lately is to cast behind the fish (if I see one) – or blind cast up into the tail of the pool. The trout will sometimes (not always) turn and come back to the fly when they sense the disturbance on the water. And since you keep all the line (and yourself) downstream of the fish you have a better chance of not spooking it. Of course it doesn’t always work – but it’s worth a try.
So I headed to another stream in the afternoon. It was similar – but something was different. I wasn’t catching much at first. I knew the fish were there – mostly wild brookies but some stocker browns and apparently some wild browns too. I was casting to the seams and soft water in the pools and pockets…nothing. I couldn’t figure it.
I had to listen to the stream – and to do that I had to mix it up. I was fishing lazy, casting to the easy to access spots – tails of pools, big pockets. soft water below plunges… I had to get serious. I started casting everywhere. And I found the fish. They were hanging tight to the big rocks, up under the rocks it seemed. Why? Who knows. Maybe somebody had been through earlier. All I know is that on the first stream that morning the fish were pretty much holding out in the open – and these fish were hiding – go figure. It often pays to mix it up when you’re not catching fish.