Happiness . . .
That little brook beside the road, a scene repeated across this globe creased by moving water. My most often wonder as a child until now is what may swim toward the artificial fly within this flow or that flow.
This one, near Passaic, New Jersey, poured forth in runs shin deep along the green edge of a Jazz Age duplex neighborhood bordered by a small park. This run of preserved water flowing through a garden city urban setting offered up on a sunny July afternoon a final treasure, finality found in a firm belief:
One Rod. One Line. One Fly.
Green Sunfish, Lepomis cyanellus, is my favorite freshwater tenkara tackling opponent that does not fall under the separate heading of Salmonid.
Lepomis cyanellus, the fins of this fish often exhibit a commonality with the east coast’s native char, Salvelinus fontinalus. Both fish possess rusty fins edged precisely in white.
The mouth of the green sunfish, like the rock bass and the redbreast sunfish, presents an elongated jaw like the largemouth and the smallmouth bass. Coloration, in addition to the fins, may exhibit barred or mottled jade. Sky blue vermiculation often decorates the cheeks and pronounced jawline.
I dedicated an entire chapter to the green sunfish in my most recent book, Small Fry: The Lure of the Little. One included claim of experience included the observation this species will take the wet fly when swung or pulsed beside submerged ledges of rock. Stretches of this little back alley run runs deeper along a smooth rounded ledge, casting shade at high sun and the rest of the day throughout. New Jersey bedrock: carved by water.
Additional shade here is often provided by Norway Maple trees. This introduced species, a popular planting during earlier generations, holds broad leaves that can cast a lush cover of shade over a city sidewalk and its parallel greenway brook. Numerous green sunfish dared forth from the ledges under tree shade cover and savaged passing offerings with the voracity of brookies swarming a floating beetle pattern just as it lands on a foothill creek flanked by hemlocks.
The length of the two fish runs in parallel fashion, ranging between three and eight inches in small streams. A plump green sunfish of six inches marks my personal best so far caught and released from this Passaic-area creek. This fatness counts in the strength department. The rounded green sunfish body holds more bulk against a tenkara rod’s tenderer, Lillian-tipped, rod tip.
Between dapping and pocket picking between banks set ten feet apart, successful narrow casts can be made. I practice my bow and arrow here, too. A careful bow flip can land beneath the branches where frequently a larger brooding fish often holds. Tenkara rods cover this variety of water well.
Outings spent in intense fishing, green sunfishing in a tight quarter, will leave most anglers exercised after a summer day’s length. Happiness comes from the experience, perhaps accompanied by ice cream with a fishing amigo, with which one enjoys also a cooling sunset. Fireflies began a cold, incandescent dance beneath the tree canopies as Sol submerged behind cumulus cloud and the tree line standing behind living city water.
A tenkara lesson learned with the green sunfish pointing the way.
– rPs 07 14 2014