Snow Fishing

Skating a fly is easy here!
(NYC 01 13 2021)

There is a “no” in snow, and that no means no fishing, tenkara or otherwise, for the time being.

There is a “now” in snow as well, and that time now is ripe for reading, fly tying, and the other comfortable indoor aspects of the fishing life.

Anticipation can inspire preparation!

— rPs 01 31 2021

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On Ice

On Ice . . .

Hielo Fino: Oh, yes, it’s winter now.
(NYC 12 23 2020)

Early rise and an eager hike to the park for a final fishing trip found its goal foiled by that signature of the season: ice.

True, the new lid on the lake was “Hielo fino” with a few teasing openings, yet not enough free water presented itself for practical angling. The season is now . . . on ice.

So, 2020, a year to remember – not so much – comes to a close. Those days of bluegill and bass, the elusive trout and carp, and exciting new experiments in the salt – fluke and more – the silver linings to an unexpected, challenging, trying time, remain to warm the imagination over the winter.

Winter Dawn: fishing gone, but beauty remains
(NYC 12 23 2020)

Farewell, 2020.

— rPs 12 30 2020

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Photogenic Fall

American Shad: my most noteworthy fish this November
(11 2020)

The fall season may not be the most productive time for angling; it depends on the fish species you pursue, but it sure is a pretty time to take tenkara to the water.

Perhaps it’s the clarity of the air, the thinning of the colored leaves, the change of the light, which fades so much more swiftly at end of day by the time Thanksgiving arrives.

I have explored back bay salt and city pond banks this November, and both locales have offered slower fishing, yet given me great views:

The Pond

Urban Autumn
(NYC 11 2020)

The Back Bay

Silhouette on Sand
(11 2020)

Freshwater or salt, the late fall is a time to exalt Ebisu, the Japanese god of fishing, before the inevitable ice-over of the coming winter.

Go fishing . . .

— rPs 11 30 2020

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October Surprise

Surprise! I’m a hickory shad!
10 2020

October Surprise . . .

Autumn in the salt paints images of bluefish and striped bass in the fly fisher’s mind. So, imagine my October surpise when in the chilly rain my olive and white Clouser conjured up another new, and unexpected, tenkara species:

Hickory Shad

Another One in the Net!
10 2020

– rPs 10 31 2020

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September’s Small Reward

September’s Small Reward . . .

 

Pickerel weed in bloom surrounds a NYC lake in September.
(NYC 09 08 2020)

A September afternoon spent around a pond in a NYC park marked my return to a more conventional tenkara setting. After a salty summer spent exploring the coastal back bays, the sweetwater spot was familiar, the fishing exercise gentle, even easy, yet it held a surprise in the catching.

Despite my practiced casting and improved fly tying, there was the problem of the elusive fish. The water looked reasonably healthy, the solunar tables were in alignment to my time and place, yet not one fish met the net after several hours of focused fishing. No bass, no crappie, no perch, not even a juvenile bluegill.

Perhaps it was the bright sun, a high UV index, which kept the fish off the bite. I had adjusted from the start, beginning along a bank of tall pickerel weed, working the cover of the pond’s shaded bank drop offs. Not a bite, not one.

Tough fishing in the form of no catching can shake the confidence of someone who has just been on a roll, catching bigger game fish consistenly all season. But here, at summer’s end, in the backyard water, a sudden lull.

It wasn’t until I had fished an entire lakeside and back before I felt a strike around the base of the same pickerel weed where I had started.

At the end, both of line and day, a bass. One little fish in the hand, a small reward to end another summer on a positive tip.

The little largemouth that saved the day.
(NYC 09 08 2020)

Tenkara never fails to challenge, teach, and surprise. Now let’s see what autumn holds.

— rPs 09 30 2020

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Late Summer Salt

Late Summer Salt . . .

A sweet spot for the salt tenkara experience.
(08 01 2020)

One rod. One line. One fly. Many, many ways and places to fish. One of these, the salt, continues to fascinate and engage a nascent facet of tenkara’s potential.

The more mellow environment of the sod bank back bay flats gives one a perfect place to wade and cast for game fish in close quarters in the salt.

The primary species remains the summer flounder, the fluke, although as August progresses, juvenile bluefish, called “snappers” by the locals, have returned to provide additional action.

The rigging could not be more simple; a Clouser minnow, Lefty’s Deceiver, or a Gotcha tied directly to the 10-20 lb. tip of a flourocarbon level line.

Fluke rig in the field.
(08 21 2020)

Practice in action reveals the best time to fish, and catch, is during a low tide when fish are more concentrated and feeding. In the case of the fluke and bluefish, feeding on spearing, mummichog, and other small baitfish.

Spearing.
(08 20 2020)

These fish fight exceptionally well on tenkara tackle. Fluke, even shorts, and bluefish, even snappers, fight like stream trout of the 20-inch class. Both species are built for strength and bursts of speed and provide a wonderful, sporting fishing experience during the freshwater doldrums of late summer.

A “keeper” fluke landed on a mudflat during low tide.
(08 19 2020)

 

Bluefish of “snapper” size.
(08 23 2020)

— rPs 08 31 2020

 

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Fluking the Flats

Back Bay Flat at Low Tide at Dawn
(07 2020)

Low tide around the back bays of the American Northeast allows hours of comfortable wading and in midsummer a chance to fish the fly for fluke, the summer flounder, on these sod bank flats.

Tenkara makes a fine fit for this kind of fishing. Stealth in waste deep water gets you up close, the fixed line allows methodical casts to cover the surrounding area, and the aggressive manner of the summer flounder assures a lot of chances for hookups in close quarters.

The rig for fluke is simple. A level line of 10 to 20 pound test, fluorocarbon preferred, a few feet longer than the fully extended rod, attached to the Lillian on the top end and a small Clouser Minnow, Lefty’s Deceiver, or Half & Half on the business tip. These standard classic patterns will mimic the bay anchovy, mummichog, and silversides upon which the fluke feeds.

Fluke Bait
(07 2020)

Fluke Flies
(NYC 07 2020)

The exagerrated twitch used in tenkara is a match with conventional fluke presentation. The takes are sudden and intense, and if you miss a hookup, a pause and continuation often brings a second or third strike.

Fluke Battle
(07 2020)

No other fish fights quite like a flounder. The nearly two dimensional body can slice through a current rip with ease, or plane in the water against the rod, creating a formidable bend.

“Gotcha!”
(07 25 2020)

And be sure to carry a net, fluke flutter and stay aggressive even out of the water. The sight of the fish, like a muse of Pablo Picasso during his Cubist period, never grows old. Nothing says “saltwater” quite like a flatfish.

— rPs 07 31 2020

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Carpe Mensis

Carpe Mensis . . .

First Carp in the (Much Too Small) Net!
(NYC 06 12 2020)

Something new and exciting in my fishing experience has emerged from the extended lockdown that has kept my angling local. I have at last figured out how to catch carp on the fly with some consistency.

“Carpe Mensis” — seize the month — has been the pun in play this June.

Carpe Carp
(NYC 06 26 2020)
* photo by James Wu

Warm weather with little rain has permitted plenty of comfortable fishing time over the last several weeks. The theme has been expanded by a focused pursuit of Izaak Walton’s queen of the fishes, the common carp, which when hooked fight like a knight.

Many of New York City’s lakes have a solid carp fishery: Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn, Van Cortlandt Lake in The Bronx, and The Lake in Central Park. The best fishing of all may actually be found in Queens at Meadow Lake in Flushing-Corona Park as the carp is the dominant species there.

I had noticed cruising and tailing carp earlier this year when tenkara fishing for my regular trio of bass, bluegill, and crappie. I knew from past experiment that I could hook a carp on fixed line tackle. But the powerful run of these fish in hemmed in bank settings would also result in a quick snap of the leader, so I brought along my conventional BVK fly rod that Lefty Kreh designed and gave myself some slack as I learned to tackle a new and bigger fish on the fly.

Carp were the large fish catch in my youth when I caught several on doughball using spinning tackle. I have since read as many articles and seen as many videos on carp fishing as the next angler. What changed, perhaps, in late spring of this year was the desire for change, and some challenge, anything to distract my attention from Covid-19 and urban riots.

The carp obliged. The precise roll cast under overhanging branches to large wary fish I could see, and that could see me, was a big change from my usual subaqueous gamble of reading the water and twitching a fly blind in the hope of making a connection with a panfish below the surface.

I find carp are receptive to nymphs and patterns that imitate berries or bread. Presentation is most important. Precision is a must. One has to place the fly right before, or right on top of, the fish, almost bumping the beast on the head to coax a reflex strike.

Size 12 Sucker Spawn tied with white chenille that by pure coincidence resembles a cheesy snack found along the bank!
(NYC 06 12 2020)

Alone, or when paired or in groups, as long as the fish can be seen, and the fly can be landed softly with precision, there  is a good chance of an explosive strike and several long runs from a carp, which in every way remind me of the bonefish I have caught in the tropical salt.

Carp are very much “golden bones” and I have become, like the ones I have caught, hooked!

Carp in the 10 lb. + class are the average catch in NYC lakes.
(NYC 06 12 2020)
* photo by James Wu

— rPs 06 30 2020

 

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Light at the End

Light at the End . . .

The Lake in Central Park
(NYC 05 29 2020)

The sun, often hidden during this strange spring, has at last emerged to take its place as the season begins to brighten and warm at the end of May. Such conditions are not necessarily good for fishing, but given what we have all collectively had to endure, day after day sheltered indoors, it’s good to get out at last, and go fishing.

 

Silver Dollar Crappie
(NYC 05 29 2020)

Bluegill in the Shade
(NYC 05 29 2020)

And the angler is not alone. Sometimes it seems that nature’s other creatures are also happy to see you out fishing again (if only in the hope of a free fishy handout).

Old Mossback
(NYC 05 29 2020)

I have been fishing New York City’s parks for years and there is always on every trip a moment or more worthy of a story. That fact might be the brightest light at the end of this long tunnel of pandemic time.

Follow the Rules and Have Fun
(NYC 05 29 2020)

— rPs 05 31 2020

 

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“A Good Excuse”

” A Good Excuse” . . .

Line on the Water During the Lockdown
(NYC 04 20 2020)

Late April is a period of “peak fishing” in and around the New York region: spring trout, spring striper, as well as bass and sunfish just before the annual spawn. This stretch of fertile time provides “a good excuse” to pause what obligations one has by day and wet a line.

 

This April has been a cruel time, to paraphrase the poet, and I have experienced my share as an essential (healthcare) professional. It has not been inclement weather or religious holidays tying one up from some quality time on the water. We wish it was just that.

 

Life continues, however, and given the concept of Social Distancing, which has become a global directive as well as common sense, it seems to me fishing offers a natural unforced way  — “a good excuse” —  to spend some socially responsible time outdoors even within New York City, the American epicenter of the Covid-19 health crisis.

Going Green: a Silver Lining to Solitary Social Distancing in the Spring of 2020.
(NYC 04 20 2020)

— rPs  04 30 2020

 

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