Archive for Tenkara News

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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Distance

Distance . . .

Rain on the Tenkara Rod
(NYC 03 17 2020)

I have long noticed that New Yorkers, prone to tailgaiting, often keep their distance from anglers fishing the city’s park ponds. Add a gray day with a little rain, and one can be positively alone.

The conditions have been ideal for late winter and early spring fishing. Add the COVID-19 pandemic and the additional space of social distancing, and there has appeared ample room to cast the long tenkara rod with fixed line, even along what is usually a busy path.

Such a spot afforded me my first take and solid wrestle with a fish in 2020. St. Patrick’s Day, normally a bustle of less than sober revelers in and around the usual business, gave me several hours of therapeutic solitude and a solid bluegill dressed in rich purple and orange colors.

Lucky Start: First Fish of 2020
(03 17 2020)

Spring arrived on March 19th, the earliest such equinox in 124 years. A similar gray and rainy start inspired me to go out again.

I’m glad I did, as the city of New York has since entered a stranger than science fiction time. Like the character Roux in The Plague by Albert Camus, I have witnessed the public space of Manhattan gradually empty into a quiet stage set of sorts. Spring flowers and singing birds have since taken over, giving a heartbreaking natural beauty to the city under siege.

I worked one fly for a few hours in Central Park in the shadow of the Mt. Sinai hospital complex (my employer!), and the reward, in a spring now without baseball, was the local grand slam:

Black Crappie

(NYC 03 20 2020)

Bluegill

(NYC 03 20 2020)

Largemouth Bass

(NYC 03 20 2020)

What a positive start to the 2020 fishing season.

I must set aside my angling avocation to focus on my professional role as a CRCST, managing the sterillization of surgical trays and assisting any way I can in the hospital’s PACU. The fear of sickness subdued by the duty to serve, and soothed by a few hours of good fishing.

Grateful I continue to be for fishing in general, and tenkara specifically, for the distance, physical and psychological, the sport provides from the weights of the world.

Hope
(NYC 03 20 2020)

— rPs 03 31 2020

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RUSH-ing to the River

RUSH-ing to the River . . .

A fraction of Neil Peart’s philosophical artistic output
(NYC 01 10 2020)

(for Neil E. Peart, 09 12 1952 – 01 07 2020)
My fly fishing path has been often navigated by mountain bike. Ears free and open to the sounds of the way give my interior radio a  playlist, sometimes stuck on one incessant earworm, sometimes an album I have apparently memorized down to the mix, but always, either way, in music in mind rather than reflection or reminiscing thought.
The latter may best be for the page giving room to describe. Images, personifications,  full characters may dwell in music. There is the narrator of “2112” and the postcard report from “Xanadu.” Song sounds wave to me as I depart and welcome me at the end of an expedition. The tunes in between shift and lift my mood as needed.
Power and drive help me to pedal, later to cast. There are times when only the beat of my mental stereo can coerce the thighs to reach the smooth glide on the downward slope, or over the hump to the opposite bank. Such rhythms, internalized, get set in synch with the necessary speed and intensity of the physical motion, making a kind of yoga out of the outdoor sport. This is why I always have a little or a lot of RUSH.
For its combination of power, nuance, ad road-worthy imagery, I begin my day with the friendly voice of RUSH. This Canadian trio of rock remains relevant, having been the subject of several compelling documentaries over the last decade. And there is that little big thing of the band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
RUSH also resisted the sentimentality circuit by staying a recording and touring together outfit for 40 years plus one. Retired now, since late 2015, and now, we also now know why. Farewell to “The Professor” — lNeil Peart: percussionist, lyricist, cyclist, and philosophical traveloguer.
The outpouring publishing since his passing reveals how broad and deep the man’s audience is. The irony not stated thus far, though, may be this that I noticed — for such a private man, he did share a heaping helping of his life in hindsight. Deep details is words and still images and instructional videos. He in fact shared far more life story than his two bandmates. I find this amusing, and bet it might even be a kind of chuckle already shared in the private world of RUSH.
Fans, deep and frequent listeners like myself and several I know, can usually mention this band now without enduring the rolling eyes of opinionated cynics. There was a time during university in the 1980s when an individualist would squeeze Peart into an art party circle discussion extolling Morrissey, Dylan, Lou Reed, and Leonard Cohen. “Hey,” I would say, “Peart is Canadian like Cohen, too.” At least the Whitesnake fan gave an affirmative nod.
Legitimacy established by perseverance and the Change with a capital C upon which Neil Peart often ruminated, RUSH remain in radio rotation.

First paragraph reveals joy of opportunity for an author to in print shout out “sources” even those contemporaries of philosopher status.
Excerpt from Small Fry: The Lure of the Little
(NYC 01 2020)

My appreciation of RUSH is doubled because drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, the band’s primary engine and eyes, is an avid cyclist and speaks to those rhythms and BPMs. He began riding an “acoustic bike” between some cities during tours in the middle of the 1980s and explored China, South America, and West Africa off the road, literally.
Motorcycling and related writings then emerged as his passion after a period spent recovering from the trauma of losing his first wife and daughter within one year in the late 1990s.
When the band together again returned in 2002, “Ghost Rider” became my summer song, the song I would even attempt to sing as I road farther and farther to find fishable water.
That season was hot and a dry one, dust in the streets of Philadelphia, and New York, borne by winds of smoke from forest fires in . . .  Canada. Irony.
More simple, less worldly, then my main concern was how I felt unrequited love living in the townhouse next door and career stagnation in my day vocation. I escaped the workplace to write, or to fish, both often and hard, cycling twenty miles back and forth to smallmouth bass and brown trout rivers I could reach by bike from the city limits of Philadelphia.
“Sunrise in the mirror lightens that invisible load” . . . just like the song penned by Peart! My life at that time emulated musical art.
Reason(s) why? Peart can paint clean landscapes even in phrases of four words or less. Another lyrical talent is his use of strong nouns of place – “white sands / canyon lands / redwood stands / barren lands” – such images can alone describe an entire seasonal narrative along the water. Each works its way specifically because of the generality (the complex conveyed by the simple). Words of rock that speak to the full sensory experience in a manner still personal to an individual listener.
And that drumming! Percussion as complex as a Spey line with a wallet of tips, yet tempered as one switched to a steelhead, or tight to a smallmouth by 5-weight or tenkara rod; a stick, of sorts, not unlike that one for the drum.
Casting a line is rhythm after all, and Neil Peart composed “Mystic Rhythms” that continue to conjure moving pictures in the mind. That alone may explain why Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart make my day’s road music.

Fly Rider:
Excerpt from Philadelphia on the Fly
(NYC 01 2020)

Rock and Ride and Write in Peace, Neil Peart
— rPs 01 14 2020
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.
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“The River” . . .

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The L Word

The L Word . . .

The Stream Behind
(08 2019)

Low water, light tippet, little fish, and lots of fun over the Labor Day weekend.

Redbreast Sunfish
(08 2019)

Smallmouth Bass
(08 2019)

Mornings have begun to dawn later, and evening falls faster. The truncated time in between spent fishing is a day labor . . . of Love.

That’s the short story near the end of another summer.

The Road Ahead
(08 2019)

— rPs 08 31 2019

 

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End of July Fluke

End of July Fluke . . .

 

Proper Beach Fluke Release
(07 2019)

The find for a good start: an empty stretch of beach, early, sun behind, near a narrow point connecting back bay with channel, sand underfoot. It’s summer.

The small tungsten bucktail kebari with perhaps an especially long saddle feather may be swung off a line of fifteen to twenty feet in combined length. The tide incoming or outgoing swings the pattern on a current like a trout stream seam within the greater bay. Sometimes a striper, also short,  intercedes, but this season is ruled by the summer flounder.

Fluke Kandy
(NYC 07n2019)

Another summer morning, another sudden solid connection with a fluke on the swing.

A Beauty By the Jetty
(07 2019)

The left-eyed flatfish, the summer flounder, fluke, is game for fly patterns. The black crappie of the sea, perhaps, to my personal perception of parallel connection. The southpaw fluke stands as a visual stealth and surge predator that seeks smaller fish.

Width adds weight to the battle after the connection is made and a demonstrative tenkara rod hookset sets with success. Nothing else quite feels like a flounder on the end of a line: the uppercut take, the fluttering stand-off, the evasions the fish’s nearly two-dimensional form can achieve.

Shorts are the rule. True. Catch and release is not only fun saltwater panfishing; it’s the law. So many fluke caught are just below the legal length that one must assume keepers are in fact almost always kept.

I release all, with the option open to keep.

Path to Fluke Point
(07 2019l)

 

— rPs 07 31 2019

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4th of July Fireworks

4th of July Fireworks. . .

 

How the Fireworks Started
(NYC 07 04 2019)

(* Excerpt from Small Fry: The Lure of the Little by ron P. swegman. 2009. The Whitefish Press.)

 

Fireworks!

 

Happy Fourth of July.

— rPs 07 04 2019

 

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Summer Sunnies

Summer Sunnies . . .

 

Bluegill: the Summer Sunfish — This one lured by a Woolly Bugger tied by Dennis Feliciano.
(NYC 06 2019)

The longest days of the year offer an extended opportunity to “fish local” even after a busy weekday at work in the big New York City.

No excuses. There is always time to tackle with some sunnies around the summer solstice!

— rPs 06 30 2019

 

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Spawning Season

Spawning Season . . .

A Gathering of the Tribes: (bass, bluegill, crappie)
(NYC 05 2019)

 

Shoals of small bluegill gather just below the surface of the open water as the very long shadow of a largemouth bass passes nearby. A large crappie holds guard over a cleared nest within an opening in the weeds near the bank.

It’s May, when all the fish of the pond are active and in sight: Spawning Season.

What a delight it was to see so much piscatorial action in the good company of Garrett Fallon, publisher of Fallon’s Angler, this month. He was in town on business, but found a few hours of time to go fishing in the center of New York City.

He was not disappointed.

First Fish for Mr. Fallon
(NYC 05 2019)

Tenkara offered a new twist in his seasoned hand, which managed to pluck a feisty bluegill from Central Park’s Harlem Meer after just a few casts.

The golden shiner, so much like the European rudd to which he is well acquainted, also rushed to the artificial fly in the bright morning sun.

Golden Shiner, Golden Sunlight
(NYC 05 2019)

Our little trip ended with the big one. The shaded banks and weedy waters held some very large black crappie, the kind some like to call a slab.

A Slab: black crappie dressed in spawning colors
(NYC 05 2019)

May is spawning season; a great time to fish, alone, or with a fellow angler.

— rPs 05 31 2019

 

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