John Gierach: “All Fishermen Are Liars”

John Gierach: “All Fishermen Are Liars” . . .

All Fishermen Are Liars by John Gierach Ebisu by Tenkara USA (photo taken 04 11 2014)

All Fishermen Are Liars by John Gierach
Ebisu by Tenkara USA
(photo taken 04 11 2014)

John Gierach’s new collection, All Fishermen Are Liars, was released by Simon & Schuster on April 15th. I had the enjoyable task of reading an advanced copy and writing a review, which has been bundled with a video interview hosted by Tenkara USA. Here is the link:

Many thanks to Stephen Bedford and Daniel Galhardo for making this literary angling experience possible.

And thank you, John Gierach, for the good words . . .

- rPs 04 17 2014

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April: A Day; A Lake

April: A Day; A Lake . . .

April: A Lake. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

April: A Lake. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

North of Manhattan I have fished several times in several locations. A fact may be the environment of a stillwater is more important than a place name. If you have a pond accessible in early spring, do fish tenkara there. You may catch panfish, bass, even perch and trout and pike, sized to the scale of the rod you choose.

Ebisu and I ventured into a brisk wind, cold, just not enough cold to put on my fingerless wool mittens. I knotted on a 4X length of tippet a weighted chenille pattern, olive in color, 10 in size, as well as later a classic size 12 Zug Bug nymph tied expertly by the folks at Umpqua. My new tool: a treat; a tapered, woven, 11 ft. Tenkara USA line dressed in a pale olive color.

Converted, instantly, instinctively I was to this line despite the wind level; it was obnoxious enough to make me laugh out loud with myself.

Clean and neat is the tapered line. Greeted I was, after four or five casts, by a modest largemouth bass sporting a clean and neat pattern. The fish met me during a slow Leisenring Lift beside some submerged sticks. Visibility was the best in a year as I would learn further, later, casting to carp on the lily pad flats.

I added a foot or two of Berkley Trilene green 10 lb. monofilament to absorb abrasion and to act as transition between the visible tapered line and the invisible tippet. A loop to loop between tapered line and transition is matched on the other end by a double eight knot on the transition and some kind of slip or clinch knot on the fine side.

Moss gone green; skunk cabbage and onion grass in sprout; red buds tipped the trees, all below a blue as clear sky. The wind remained generous. I learned to cast in step with it toward promising stick piles and boulder banks.

My number of chances at a carp on the flats equaled one. A fish of eight pounds to my eye passed by me bankside. I decided to spin. I pulled the lever, placed the sinking fly four feet in front of fish with a light and tight ripple following its swinging caudal fin. The fish swam on ahead on a singular mission of its own.

Flats Casting. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

Flats Casting. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

The second bass proved to be a miracle of play and patterning. A strike out of visual depth pulled tightly, approached the surface; its side rippled flashes metallic, resisting in equal the bending Ebisu. I had five or six feet of bank to each side, one occupied by a sunning turtle I did not want to disturb. I tiptoed behind the shell; our eyes together, as the rod doubled down like an extended arm wrestle.

My thumb, up, won a short photo session with a long fish; a female to my eye and understanding of fish profiles. Rare have I seen such clarity and splendor in the prominent black lateral line and bordering blotches. Each bass flank is a flag. This one remains high at full mast.

Largemouth April. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

Largemouth April. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

Open brush and dry phragmite stands around an adjacent pond’s perimeter afforded me a chance to ruminate on the catch. I cleared out a measurable amount of public plastic trash, which I disposed of later at a public can. Glass and metal do not disturb me so much as these materials, in moderation, weather better. Plastic, however, and batteries? The bits and pieces add up. Besides, you want your photos to look clean!

The equivalent of three rolls of film later, I found myself wrapping up in another manner. I rolled the tapered line onto its simple, effective dispenser. One golfer passing by announced to his other friends: “I wanna go fishing. I like to go fishing!”

I did.

Ebisu Near Rising Pads. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

Ebisu Near Rising Pads. (photo taken 04 10 2014)

– rPs 04 11 2014

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Just a Second

Just a Second . . .

. . . As in Happy Second Anniversary . . .

. . . Tenkara Takes Manhattan . . .

Tenkara USA Ebisu: Lillian and spooled tapered line on the table. (photo taken 04 09 2014)

Tenkara USA Ebisu:
Lillian and spooled tapered line on the table. (photo taken 04 09 2014)

– rPs 04 09 2014

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Harlem Meer, Blue Again

Harlem Meer, Blue Again . . .

Free at last: Harlem Meer without ice.. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

Free at last: Harlem Meer without ice.. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

The wind was up. The sun set the high cirrus aglow. Harlem Meer reflected deep blue and, occasionally, bare trees. Rippled, the winded surface did not deter the birds. Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, and Hooded Megansers all utilized the resource. I found myself, too, with colleagues Fergus and Jesse. We three angled urbanely for an entire Friday.

The water was clear and dark, free of weed. Only the bottom, where we worked our offerings, hinted at the ragged rooted bases of plants yet to rise.

I decided to employ one of my own fly patterns; a weighted streamer I call the Green Guarantee. The recipe: .020 wire wrapped around a size 6 Daiichi hook decorate with GREEN THREAD, NATURAL DEER HAIR, OLIVE FLOSS, PEACOCK HERL, and OLIVE BUCKTAIL.

Green Guarantee: bucktail version.

Green Guarantee:
bucktail version.

Where others using conventional fly fishing outfits and ultralight spinning outfits failed, tenkara succeeded. One fish fell for the delicate dance of the pattern. The limber tenkara tip had provided again.

Crappie as long as your pine handle: Tenkara USA Ebisu and a black crappie. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

Crappie as long as your pine handle:
Tenkara USA Ebisu and a black crappie. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

First black crappie of 2014

The day’s fishing ended on a silent moment. We three stood abreast and watched, as time lapsed in front of us, the bend of a cove letting go the last of its lock of ice.

Harlem Meer, blue again.

– rPs 03 31 2014

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The Luck of “The Spring”

The Luck of “The Spring” . . .

Harlem Meer Still White. (photo taken 03 13 2014)

Harlem Meer Still White. (photo taken 03 13 2014)

I made myself meet the water a few days before this St. Patrick’s Day. I caught and released one fish.

There was a sky full of helicopters, a loose chain of ambulances at emergency, and deep rumbling rolling in from the Northeast. Air, not natural, had burst from the seams and taken down a piece of Manhattan.

My day off: fishing as this was occurring. An awareness of balance, rather than a feel of guilt, charged my exploration of “The Spring” in Winter. Harlem Meer, I would learn later, was a solid white floor surround by the yellow brown fields of March. Lucky Me: I chose first a greener ground of jade where “The Spring” offered water along one of three shorelines, most of the best spread out behind a bankside fence I chose lawfully not to cross.

Hemmed within seventy-five feet of width, fifteen feet of breadth, and a depth measuring less than a rod’s length, I fished a Deer Hair, Peacock Herl, and Thread nymph of my own design. Plenty of cool casting onto the ice opened up to me on a 3.5 Level Line. Thin ice is like an immense, monolithic lily pad. Audible slides along the ice with a tug off to the depths make for a great presentation when successful. What works at an even higher level across the fishing spectrum is the same matched with a larger pattern: next an Olive Deer Hair and Floss Bucktail tied in a manner akin to a Mickey Finn, or with a sparse beard like my Green Guarantee, first described on The Global FlyFisher in 2008.

Tenkara on thin ice. (photo taken 03 13 2014)

Tenkara on thin ice. (photo taken 03 13 2014)

Four extended periods of disaster noise sounded in the distance as I began to fish. The rumbles reminded my mind’s ear of the Baghdad air war thunder shown (and heard) on television during both Gulf War I and Gulf War II. The news through the fog of dust and information settled on eight dead, many injured and displaced. A gas leak? Investigation on site has not yet been engaged in full because of debris. There has been that much material mixed with potential survivors, so great care has been taken.

On the top of the hour of one, a better blast sounded on my side. Luck struck. A sudden take a foot below the ice edge began to move. No winter sluggish fish was this; I saw twice in profile a thick bass with a purpose. The silhouette was a rounded female rather than a thin pickle of a male. I feared my tippet might fray as three runs under the ice audibly shaved my line against the blade on the water’s top.

My Ebisu tenkara rod’s entire 5/5 flex was on arch display. I gripped the pine handle as if it were a solid body guitar. Grip locked in, I was able to lead the bass around a fallow pickerel weed garden to shore.

Blurry? Cold, wet hand and big, fast bass! (photo taken 03 13 2014)

Blurry? Cold, wet hand and big, fast bass! (photo taken 03 13 2014)

I rarely lay fish on any surface for a photo except sometimes wet grass on rainy days. Skies overcast, air still, the fish remained calm and stretched as most largemouth bass will as it endured a bragging shot on packed damp soil beside my laminated ruler and Tenkara USA Ebisu. Best Honest Estimate: 15 inches, 2 plus pounds, female largemouth bass.

Tenkara can (sometimes) tackle big bass. (photo taken 03 13 2014)

Tenkara can (sometimes) tackle big bass. (photo taken 03 13 2014)

The Luck of “The Spring” . . . an ironic reward, when still in winter.

* *** * *** * ***

Angle 360

Doves dived
The depths of damp spring air.

The lake,
Biifurcated between water and ice,

Bare branches and brick towers.

In park,
Central to the whole reality,

One bass
Followed the ledge, following,

Up above,
Something crawling, scraping.

In went it,
Down into the wet water.

When tugged,
Wink, the line squared the circle:

The One and The Other
Spirited by connection.

* *** * *** * ***

My First Fish of 2014

– rPs 03 17 2014

Postscript: Read about the Green Guarantee at The Global FlyFisher by following this link:

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Hielo Grueso

Hielo Grueso . . .

Hielo Fino! (photo taken 02 2014)

Hielo Fino! (photo taken 02 2014)

The sign beside this Central Park pond read “Thin Ice” – Hielo Fino en español – and that was on Super Bowl Sunday, the one warm, as in fifty-degree, day during the entire month of February. The NFL did dodge a bullet and scored a great success in the New York metro area. For other sports fans, such as those who fly fish with tenkara equipment, this month has been not so much a disappointment as an extended test is patience.

But wait! Yes, wait, indeed: more snow is predicted over the first days of March, which shall be arriving like a lion.

That sign should now read “Thick Ice” – Hielo Grueso!

Hielo Grueso! (photo taken 02 2014)

Hielo Grueso! (photo taken 02 2014)

– rPs 02 28 2014

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New Year, New Gear

New Year, New Gear . . .

Goodies to start the new year: Tenkara Magazine, 3.5 Level Line, and a traditional tapered 11 ft. line. (photo taken 01 31 2014)

Goodies to start the new year: Tenkara Magazine, 3.5 Level Line, and a traditional tapered 11 ft. line. (photo taken 01 31 2014)

The “Polar Vortex” of 2014 has placed an unbroken solid ceiling of ice on my favorite local ponds and streams, yet I can still daydream of a day spent with my Ebisu tenkara rod, casting over open water, tussling with trout or panfish.

The USPO (and Tenkara USA) helped fuel my imagination further by delivering some new gear to my door. I received the debut issue of Tenkara Magazine as well as a new supply of 3.5 Level Line. Most exciting for me was the arrival of my first traditional tapered 11 ft. line. I can already tell by the look and feel of this 3rd generation product that I shall be casting into an April breeze with more confidence and accuracy. All I need do now is set up my vise beside a snow-bordered window, tie some kebari . . . and wait for the warmth at the other end of winter.

– rPs 01 31 2014

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