Hielo Fino

Hielo Fino . . .

Thin Ice in Manhattan (January 07, 2015)

Thin Ice in Manhattan
(January 07, 2015)

Hielo Fino = no fishing for a while . . .

Comme Il Vous Plaira

Cold calms it down
Despite the light of live fire.
Brown, white, and blue
Rush red flush in full attire.

This, That, and Thine
Locked on the city of lights.
Your time and mine:
Most necessary of rights.

— rPs 01 08 2015

Postscript: My opinion is my own and includes the belief that I am as a creative writer and professional journalist an individual who cannot condone the brutal slaying of fellow journalists no matter how they may have expressed themselves in media. The events in Paris on January 07, 2015 should serve notice that a global restraint on violent reactions to free expression must be accepted, adopted, and enforced in full. No one or thing, not even in the name of a sacred human conception of God with a capital G. has the right to take another human life. Murder is an immoral, an inhumane, an incorrect act that discredits the dignity of us all.

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Year’s End, Prospect

Year’s End, Prospect

Prospect Park Lake Brooklyn, 12 29 2014

Prospect Park Lake
Brooklyn, 12 29 2014

Vapor Trails imbued with sunlight fill a blue sky on some December days. One last one above the temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit beckoned me to follow through on one final item of outstanding tenkara fishing business: Taking my Tenkara USA Yamame rod for a test around Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn . . . Of course. I had to go there at least once in 2014. Completion of mission vital to my own authority added a pinch of incentive as well. Prospect Park had not seen my traditional tapered line all season. The Bronx, Manhattan, as well as Queens have all been noted as has fishing the Hudson’s New York Bight’s salt adjacent to Staten Island. Four, not all five, boroughs in total, the count found wanting a major one of New York City’s destinations: Prospect Park Lake.

The omission appears even odder considering Brooklyn’s coolwater lake has the highest notoriety for catch and release bass fishing. For nine months of 2014, I have fished hard, in and around town in between serving as a guide to new gear at an urban fly shop. My first catch of a bass happened as early as the final week of winter in March. Trips in between then and now included meeting the saltwater papio of O’ahu, Hawaii. I had been to Brooklyn a bunch of times for friends and culture. Time then to go fishing there as well at the eleventh-and-a-half hour of the year.

One of my own pioneering tenkara trips took place along a portion of Prospect Park Lake’s asymmetric circumference. The lake has over a span of years drawn me and several of my companions together in search of fish on the fly. Earliest spring and fullest summer have been experienced, never winter.

The cold day squeezed between Christmas and the New Year began bright and breezy, qualities that made the prospects look challenging in all ways but my own confidence. I knew, just knew, some kind of fishing would present itself if I maintained the kind of endurance and mental focus I must exhibit to complete a cross country run along a bright and breezy Hudson River waterfront.

Conditions lakeside enforced an immediate variation on my use of line. My traditional tapered lines were set aside in deference to Level Line attached to a much longer tippet of finer 6X. Unfocused invisibility can be seen as obvious given cold lake water’s clear visibility. Water temps in the high thirties Fahrenheit discourage green plant life, and the recent season’s remains now rest brown and settled. Prospect Park’s water and its column become a more translucent body skirted by shores of cattails, trees limbs, and stone and mortar wall.

Large nymphs work to lure fish during the cold season. Leaf litter offers ample residences for the dobsonfly among others. Whether it be a Kebari americana like The Prince, Zug Bug, your own variation on the theme, or the all-inclusive Woolly Bugger, unweighted or beaded patterns are effective. More important may be presentation. Some strip in a nymph when stillwater fly fishing. Fair the approach may be, as well as a Leisenring Lift customized to your speed theory, or a sustained swimming action that takes advantage of an unweighted fly pattern’s buoyancy . . .

The Undulating Microtug

I grinned when the technique met a take. Connection to a fish had first to endure several persistent hours of casting in and around some brisk breaths of air off the water. Coldweather tenkara this was. No topwater action was on deck. The kebari patterns were a dice roll that occupied my mind: Olive Dobsonfly, The Prince, Zug Bug, and my own Grey Wet Wool Nymph described in my second book, Small Fry: The Lure of the Little. Sizes ranged between 6 and 10.

Coldweather Tenkara (12 29 2014)

Coldweather Tenkara
(12 29 2014)

What changed during the day was the wind. Air and lake calmed during the last hour of daylight. I finished with an Olive Woolly Bugger tied by steelheader Stephen Kasperovich of Sewickley, Pennsylvania. He is adept also when angling for yellow perch, the fish that turned my fading prospects at Prospect into a grand form of fishing finale.

His pattern uses a very soft chenille body matched with an undulating saddle hackle. Several seconds after I began to swim the Olive Woolly Bugger, a fish met the fly and connected. Several runs of ten feet and head shakes bent the Yamame and played me before I lifted a perch in net from the water.

Yellow Perch (Olive Woolly Bugger by Stephen Kasperovich)

Yellow Perch
(Olive Woolly Bugger by Stephen Kasperovich)

Perca flavescens has been encountered before both at Harlem Meer and Van Cortlandt Park Lake during late August and September. The species is a popular quarry for ice fishers, making its presence and activity understandable on the calm end of this cold day. Several more perch followed, although not in a metronomic fashion one might associate with a large school. Each fish had to be worked, had to be coaxed, into striking. The hinge of the entire experience was again a willingness to put full thought into full motion forward. Full cast and retrieve with a focus on the fly at the end of the Level Line. Any slow swimming retrieve using wrist action combined with a lift can take tenkara fishing into catching. The other factor may well be that I found a spot holding some fish at prime time: the short span of minutes that can make up a wintertime bite.

Yellow Perch in Net

Yellow Perch in Net

Bird life communed on and around the lake. American coot, Fulica americana, plied the calm water and called at dusk in the manner of gas passing out of either end. Strange, mildly humorous, a sound like belching farts almost quite nearly contradicts the bird’s conservative plumage, which may bring to mind a solemn clergy’s robes.

Bird in View (American Coot)

Bird in View
(American Coot)

The day’s final sunlit moments brought a final yank transmitted down to the grip of my Yamame. The strategy of the competitor changed. Now a tight, circular fight, at net’s end my heavier opponent turned out to be a very round bluegill dressed in a pale purple sheen with olive details and black chain link bars twisted and reminiscent of the double helix. Bluegills can be a rare encounter after the spawning bed period. Even small waters may find a bluegill population strangely reticent despite a circumscribed space. I felt more than pleased to call this fish my final catch and release of the year.

The Final Fish (Bluegill)

The Final Fish

Red skies at sunset reminded me of a poem from my collection of poetry, museum of buildings: poems

Across the bridge I’m crossing
Lay the city bathed in sunset.

At the end of this “last day of December” the trees rather that the tower blocks were tinted.

Sunset (12 29 2014)

(12 29 2014)

Farewell, Tenkara Fishing, 2014

The Year’s End

– rPs 12 30 2014

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Gone Fishing, Gift Giving

Gone Fishing, Gift Giving . . .

Happy 5th Anniversary!

Happy 5th Anniversary!

The deciduous trees are mostly bare now. Gingko and Norway Maple gold covers the hillside grounds and park places as the oaks alone hold onto rustling brown leaves. Cross country runs and hikes to and from local fishing spots have been giving gifts of time and rhythm to compose creative words.

During this same time, my second book, Small Fry: The Lure of the Little, has reached 5 years of age and remains in print. Here is a brief synopsis from the catalog page of The Whitefish Press:


Meanwhile, my first book, Philadelphia on the Fly, prepares for its 10th anniversary next year. The fact the book has stayed in print as an active seller gives testament to the importance of place in creative writing. When writing fish stories, a specific place often gives a reader added incentive to read:


Readers in return give incentive to render experience in words, although the act of writing can be an addicting pleasure in itself. I do have a few stores with a tenkara theme in the works. Progress continues as well on Little Hills: a novel. Special times pass when the flow is brisk and clear, when writing about fishing can be as fun as a good day along the water. Yes, even when one is not casting a fly pattern to fish, one can be “Gone Fishing” in the broader sense.

(Nearly) Ten Years Later . . .

(Nearly) Ten Years Later . . .

— rPs 12 03 2014

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Novel Tenkara

Novel Tenkara . . .

Hudson River Sunset 11 2014

Hudson River Sunset
11 2014

Tenkara infuses writing with rhythm. The result can be, sometimes, a longer form for pure soulful entertainment:


. . . He heard a crow, birds seen as conspicuous black spots adorning the cooler bare branched times. The call from above, the coal black guest from the nest perched attentive on the center point of the house’s gabled third floor. Bird in interaction rocked up and down a few times and spoke again.

“Smart-ass bird! Are you cheering me on, or laughing at me?”

“Caw-Caw-Caw,” the crow replied.

*** *** ***

. . . He took out his frustration by reeling in as hard as he could without knotting up the line. Such little private protests were all he would muster. He was too timid to show anger. Petey was a valuable shield against bullies. Let Petey lead; they shared other fun.

Once, without Petey, he missed school bus and had to wait for PAT Transit to take him down the long inclined face of the hill. A kid his age but bigger, cloaked in a long, untucked white shirt, appeared from behind a parked van:

“Hey! Catch this!”

Football flew forth in his direction. Young Robert, stalled in thought, cringed a bit and stubbed his left index finger in fending off the hammer ball.

“I’m a basketball player,” he yelled in his defense, which he followed with the first and only passable spiral pass of his life. The other kid caught his ball.

All was cool until a Saturday afternoon, when on his way to Center Arcade, he found himself sweating at the same bus top. This time he heard first the sound of a hard ball bouncing on pavement. A pause followed the kid’s appearance from behind another, different van:

“Hey, Basketball Player.”

Rubber burned. Young Robert ran, thus beginning his secured future as a cross country player.

Hudson River Sunset 11 2014 (photo by Maryann Amici)

Hudson River Sunset
11 2014
(photo by Maryann Amici)

– rPs 11 24 2012

Postscript: (excerpts from Little Hills: a novel by ron P. swegman)

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The Path of Honolulu

The Path of Honolulu . . .

White Papio (juvenile GT)

White Papio
(juvenile GT)

Hawaii begins borne by flowers. “Aloha” is the aroma and sight of flowers around necks, pinned behind ears, hanging from trees. Gardens, lawns, and copses all in bloom as a collective fragrance carries on a mild warm breath off Pacific seawater.

Inland, behind the two and three block rows of Waikiki, stretching one and a half miles down to Ala Manoa, sits a flow set in city nature; almost a stillwater: the Ala Wai Canal. Bordered by the Ala Wai Golf Course with green mountains to the north, and lined by either palm or plumeria trees on the constructed spots, the canal’s banks provide excellent urban angling water for tenkara equipment. Two steps of concrete, grass and tree plantings, and a sidewalk traveled by small loose waves of pedestrians, mostly runners and dog walkers, together add up to a fishable area for scattered numbers of polite anglers.

Ala Wai Canal with Ala Wai Golf Course beyond.()photo taken 10 2014)

Ala Wai Canal with Ala Wai Golf Course beyond.()photo taken 10 2014)

It must be granted this waterway has had a checkered past narrated by several chapters of brief sewage overflows during flood times. Most cities share this same, historical and ongoing, itinerant experience. I did spot a token shopping cart, submerged, yet no surface trash or oil. Stay this way, Ala Wai Canal, please.

My first visit gave me a greeting and affirmation. I believe ever more that nature, in its combined elements, communicates in elemental concepts that provide an accurate barometer of one’s own place in Life with a capital L.

The precipice of the canal’s bank dropped to vigorous schools of curious tilapia looking up, following, actually greeting us. Tilapia is a fish who provides a welcome service in water management when not asking for added handouts from passing people. I am glad to have shared this moment in communication with other species, awareness affirmed once again whilst holding a telescoping graphite rod monogramed on the base: Te with a capital T.

Tilapia Greeting (photo taken 10 2014)

Tilapia Greeting
(photo taken 10 2014)

Yamame, 12-feet girth-hitched to my 16-foot saltwater line and leader formula, had handled New York’s snapper bluefish and black sea bass well enough around Manhattan. I just had to try my way along a Honolulu path accessing the yellow, white, and blue Papio of Hawaii. Three little trevally of O’ahu: the juvenile golden, GT, and blue, are encountered in modest numbers around Honolulu’s visited waters.

The status of “Fished Waters” became a bucket list item when other business in October took me to the island of O’ahu. Recreation time over a few days lived there might include a day’s hike around Diamond Head Crater – check, a solemn morning pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor and Ford Island – check, a few surf swims with schooling fish above a sand and coral bottom – check.

Catch a papio; I added that one, too.

First cast was made to work one of Edwin Valentin’s size 6 bonefish kebari along the bank upcanal. The presence of orange kickers gave me confidence this fly would attract attention. My initial try tapered to an ending of two planned twitches of the pattern, made after a pause of 1-2-3. After the penultimate pull of two feet, a papio from the bottom rocks pounced and paused it. The rip away opposite, rod raised between two boughs of plumeria, the bend did double with several insistent added pulses relaying headshakes. Papio are fishes only slightly less vicious as bluefish wrapped in the proportions of a large bluegill. Strength and shape combined to take the Yamame into a cursive condition for over a minute. The final hand-over-hand pull up of the Level Line and fluorocarbon tippet accommodated the necessity to raise the fish five or six feet from the wall base exposed by low tide.

White Papio, Yamame (photo taken 10 2014)

White Papio,
(photo taken 10 2014)

A bright little slab of whitened silver is the juvenile GT. Fins are pointed and sharp and should be noted. A caught fish will behave for a photo before a gasp for oxygen commences. Clipped grunts are a request to expedite release. A pair of forceps grants a papio’s request for freedom more quickly.

Catch and release a papio on tenkara; I added that one, too. The happy ending became rendered in a check mark as sure as an exclamation point.

I continued after to cast in a new search for kaku, the small barracuda. No luck, although a second papio, twice as large as the first, appeared like a UFO near the water column’s top just as my rod tip collided with a plumeria branch. The instant passed with a dropped connection.

Times of this kind are best followed by a pause to contemplate the drop off encrusted with sea life, the friendly schools of tilapia, or the magnificent random passing of a speckled swimming dirigible: the giant porcupine fish. Truly amazing is this immense puffer that when swollen resembles a burdock burr the size of a beach ball. The ones I saw were at peace on a cruise following the shallow curves of the drop off.

Giant Porcupine Fish (photo taken 10 2014)

Giant Porcupine Fish
(photo taken 10 2014)

Hawaii is a place, astounding; a tremendous, rewarding, alternative place to try tenkara in an additional way: The Path Of Honolulu.

– rPs 10 31 2013

Postscript: Hi Tide Fly Fishing provides an excellent fly fishing experience in Hawaii. http://www.hitideflyfishing.com/

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Football Helmets and Fall Fishes

Football Helmets and Fall Fishes . . .

The Reach of Tenkara (photo taken 09 2014)

The Reach of Tenkara
(photo taken 09 2014)

The night game of summer has moved on to new rules played in the daylight. Rain may pass through, and the reopening of the sky brings good time to go outside and fish. When the dark does descend, quickly and almost cold, home calls as the nostalgia door opens to college year memories or past seasons, some of national championship caliber.

Part of my own continued education in life experience has been set amidst a geography where home waters caress manes of watercress. There trout abound. Other neighbors on the stream, offered perhaps a polite wave from a fly fishing undergraduate, have included names of Harvey, Humphreys, and Meck and a Gordon, too, among many others; my constant sense of the eastern provincial in America stays connected, centered on a Pennsylvania county as well as five boroughs of New York City.

Neighbors of the urban angle abound also and some distant shores have been or shall be explored alone and together with even more others. Before such diversions, the sharpened focus on a single bass, any bass, remains first in line.

Largemouth Bass (photo taken 09 16 2014)

Largemouth Bass
(photo taken 09 16 2014)

Bass season is again back in session.

Temperatures drop to fifties and sixties Fahrenheit. Sunlight remains bright, often unfiltered, but days of rippled gray skies do pass. Rain remains brief unless it’s a hurricane trailing through for four to five days. Ponds again begin to clear and darken. A frosting of bright duckweed foots cattails and pickerel weed. Slow presentation with a long horizontal reach, a natural fishing problem for tenkara to tackle and bring to quick resolve, can take a kebari to the bass level (a multifaceted pun too compelling not to intend).

The largemouth and smallmouth bass alike, after striking your pattern in a singular fashion near the water column’s bottom, bring fast reactions to the top. This athleticism has had a portion of its antecedence come from the fish’s own daily hunting. Black and blue damselflies, measured in inches, still pass time in the air. Nymphs that resemble such varieties in various stages of development swim and crawl throughout a still water. Bluegill fry swim in small schools, too. Bass can be lured when these larger naturals are mimicked by an equal kebari tied to a generous tippet matched with a Level Line or a Traditional Tapered.

A largemouth, hooked on such a kebari of size 8 or 10, may jump three times and roll on each leap skyward. Size varies by location. Any fish that is perhaps best sized to a September zucchini may be noteworthy to big fish fans.

Smaller fish – dill pickle bass and slab bluegill – still insist on being counted. Vigorous takes by a quarter pound fish inhales the pattern deep in the mouth, doubles the perceived strength of pull during breaking sprints, which brings added utility to the longer tippet with its greater capability for stretch.

Be mindful to bring clamps with a few inches of reach. To release a bluegill hooked so deeply, first fold the fish’s spiny dorsal fin down with the inside of your wet fingers, grip the fly with the teeth of the clamp, twist as far as necessary as a slight downward push on the pattern is made. This most often dislodges the hook with minimal penetration of the fish’s interior. Most small fish will thrust voluntarily from hands placed low over the water and depart with a resounding and reassuring splash.

A net facilitates the unhooking of an autumn bright bluegill. (photo taken 09 16 2014)

A net facilitates the unhooking of an autumn bright bluegill.
(photo taken 09 16 2014)

Orange Jewelweed and pale purple clusters of New York Ironweed border many New York stillwaters by late September. The green of leaves has acquired a more yellow cast. Some bluegills exhibit similar rusted or buttered bellies below strong barred sides. The bass remain silvered and green with a distinct black lateral band. Colored patterns all that would fit on a football helmet with ease.

The Football Helmet Bass (photo taken 09 2014)

The Football Helmet Bass
(photo taken 09 2014)

– rps 09 24 2014

Postscript: Read more about the damselfly and dragonfly at Backyard and Beyond here: http://matthewwills.com/2013/08/07/lilypad-forktail/

And here: http://matthewwills.com/2013/05/31/dragonfly-pond-watch/

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Tenkara Any, Any

Tenkara Any, Any . . .

August in NYC 1:  Bluegill Male (photo taken 08 2014)

August in NYC 1:
Bluegill Male
(photo taken 08 2014)

My ultimate life raft kit shall henceforth include always a tenkara rod, kebari, and the tackle pictured in “On the Water, On Line” weeks earlier. Saltwater casts from an inflated raft will lure lifesaving sashimi sustenance. Extended alpine accident withdrawal may be sustained by mountain trout or swamp panfish. Universal tool is tenkara.

During the good times, the catch remains best when made a repeatable encounter.

August in NYC 2: Bluegill Female (photo taken 08 2014)

August in NYC 2:
Bluegill Female
(photo taken 08 2014)

Rain may fall. Good. Fishing better then is my usual state of play when best embraced by a wading jacket.

Padded Rain

Padded Rain

Tenkara Any . . . Time, Any . . . Where.

Yamame at Rest

Yamame at Rest

As for the necessary Kebari, that is one field, universal . . . in scale, in choice.

Any ideas?

– rPs 08 27 2014

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