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 wrote, 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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On the Water, On Line

On the Water, On Line . . .

On the Water August 2014

On the Water
August 2014

On the Water

On the Water, the magazine, is in print this August and the new issue is now available. “Fishing the Five Boroughs” suggests one group of NYC lakes to fish during a long weekend. My Tenkara USA Ebisu makes another cameo in one of the photos.

Saltwater Line Leader Ingredients (photo taken 08 11 2014)

Saltwater Line Leader Ingredients
(photo taken 08 11 2014)

On line
Saltwater panfishing on a tenkara rod flex of 7/3 requires a line leader formula more specific than general freshwater fishing. One I have found has fitted my form of casting and catching.

The Ingredients: 3.5 Level Line; 4 to 8 pound monofilament; one #10 swivel; optional split shot or egg sinker

The 3.5 Level Line I cut to length of the rod (I match my 12-foot Tenkara USA Yamame.) One end I use for the rod connection. I tie a slip knot to match the rod’s silk Lillian. The opposite tip is simple knotted to a #10 swivel. This midsection hardware tackle is my nod to the fascinating myriad of conventional bait rigs used for porgies, fluke, and other such inshore and estuary species. The tippet consists of a single straight length of monofilament between 4 and 8 pounds sized from one half to two-thirds the length of the Level Line.

One can go a little lighter or higher on the line’s strength. The choice depends on an individual’s hook setting and fish playing techniques and whether or not one can tolerate a three dollar Clouser Minnow lost on a piling.

The range of the leader tippet’s length provides a casting distance equal to line, rod, and outstretched arm. Twenty-five feet is a workable average and allows a captured fish to be raised over a fence or bannister without too much stress on fisher and fish.

Docks and piers over the water, a jetty projecting into the surf, or flats and estuary grass banks can all be fished with tenkara equipment. The main point is a line leader similar to this one can cast small saltwater kebari patterns, reach fish, and bring fish to net or hand.

– rPs 08 11 2014

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The Salt on the Level

The Salt on the Level . . .

Hudson River High Tide (photo taken 07 2014)

Hudson River High Tide
(photo taken 07 2014)

The Salt. I have been trying, toying in earnest, to infuse my tenkara with diversity through variety in waters flowing and still, freshwater and . . . salt.

The Salt; Saltwater: Some older classics of the printed literature hold titles such as “Dock Fish” in which a sense of history can be linked to the facet of the sport perhaps best named saltwater panfishing. During this second decade of the 21st Century, add the urban angle in Manhattan, USA, and that offers two fishes of note: black sea bass (Centropristris striata) and bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), in particular the yearlings known regionally as “snappers” (pronounced “snappas”).

The Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass (photo taken 07)

Black Sea Bass (photo taken 07)

The black sea bass (those I have lost and caught and released) on the tenkara rod have coerced me to believe this is a saltwater sporting equivalent to the green sunfish found in freshwater streams. Previously I extolled on the green sunfish. The black sea bass is just as worthy.

The black sea bass is by classification a grouper, a smaller one, hardier to cold temperatures, a member of the family more well-known by its southern relations that range in color, pattern, and in size up to a 70s fly Volkswagen beetle.

The black sea bass exhibits broad shoulders, a flank thickness like the green sunfish, dressed in pearled black scales that hold an iridescence that glows bright blue around and along the lateral line. Vermiculation of a similar color resembles that of the green sunfish. The size encountered off my Manhattan dock(s) range from six to twelve inches. Only the very few largest are potentially one in the hermaphroditic phase, an interesting fact of this fish, which sets in at around specimens of ten inches or longer, in weight reaching eight to ten pounds.

Fish take a fly firmly and quiver shake in resistance. Bright weighted streamers, a chartreuse variety of Cllouser, can be cast, sunk, twitched on a line twelve feet in length supplemented by a leader of similar length tipped by the fly. Such a pattern on a swing with slow pulses of the wrist will take fish during one or two parts of a tide, often on incoming, but not always. One certainty, speed up the presentation of the fly to be intercepted by another hard hitter.

The Bluefish

First Fish! (photo taken 07 2014)

First Fish!
(photo taken 07 2014)

Closer to the surface cruise little toy soldier pods of juvenile bluefish chasing fry and rainbait schools. The schools of bluefish cutting baitfish like class come in and go out on quick waves that rarely last longer than two caught fish. Several hours of fishing will provide one half dozen waves of two minute bites on most occasions.

There also are changing skies to contemplate and inquisitive tourists, in between, plus a smorgasbord of aviation and ship sightseeing.

Fly patterns remain consistent with those best for the black sea bass. Simple half-and-half Clouser patterns tied for skinny water. Cinderworm patterns are normally ignored, although any dartible streamer of white can do. Sizes 6 through 8 are small enough for the tight-lipped bite of both fishes.

Hooks require a line. Level Line, not traditional tapered, is advised to be used. The Salt. I attach twelve feet to a small swivel and add a straight leader of monofilament in 5 or 6 lb. test. I want the leader to be breakable in case I hook into a piling of wood; an admittedly occasional hazard.

Hudson River Low Tide (photo taken 07 2014)

Hudson River Low Tide
(photo taken 07 2014)

Close fishing to the docks works best when peak tides and solunar tables meet. Check predictions on the website Tides4Fishing and study saltwater access nearest you. Tenkara may work on croakers and bergalls and many other fishes of The Salt that can fit into a pan if you force them, by hook.

Panfish, or Handfish? (photo taken 07 2014)

Panfish, or Handfish?
(photo taken 07 2014)

– rPs 07 25 2014

Postscript: Tides4Fishing http://www.tides4fishing.com/

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