Archive for Tenkara Reading

5 Yrs.

Five Yrs. . . .

Ebisu Approved
(NYC 04 09 2017)

“Five Years” is the title to the opening track of David Bowie’s necessary masterpiece “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”.

Five years now marks the amount of time I have spent rendering the topic of tenkara in images and words.  During that time, Bowie has passed, although his music continues to inspire those of us still here, some of us fishing.

Manhattan saw my first use of true telescoping fishing on the fly. Exploration of the island’s fresh and salt fisheries has centered tenkara at my angling core. Rod, Line, Fly = fishing, and fish, more often than not.

The sport has drawn me across the face of New York, as well as Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington and Hawaii, waters fresh and salt.

It has been stated countless times in conversation that it takes ten years (or maybe 10,000 hours as in the words of Malcolm Gladwell), that it takes such long time to end up a master of some thing.

“Five Years” begins a great Bowie album.

Perhaps five years ends the beginning of an aspiring tenkara master’s journey path.

Five years ago today I began to offer my own word on tenkara, fishing, fly tying, and adventure, which I then as continue to now find to be a more than fitting, in fact necessary, natural progression of an author whose book Small Fry: The Lure of the Little, published in 2009, coincided in some ways parallel with the bright and enterprising incorporation of Tenkara USA by Daniel Galhardo.

Imagine my happiness, then, to receive in coincidence a copy of Daniel’s new authoritative tenkara book, — “The Book” – on this same 5th anniversary weekend of Tenkara Takes Manhattan.

Ebisu now, as then, appears to approve.

– rPs, Palm Sunday, 04 12 2017

Postscript: Revisit the first TTM post here:  https://tenkaratakesmanhattan.com/2012/04/09/hello-world/

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Book Review: Fly-Casting Finesse

Book Review: Fly-Casting Finesse . . .

Fly-Casting Finesse
by John L. Field

When a new hardcover book dedicated to some aspect of fly fishing reaches print, there should be a pause, as the production time and cost for such a lasting document indicates the publisher’s belief in the value of the information on the printed pages between the covers.

Skyhorse Publishing, no stranger to readers of angling literature, has just released such a book.

Fly-Casting-Finesse

by John L. Field

160 pp., Skyhorse Publishing. Hardcover, $29.99.

ISBN: 9781632204882

First impression of the cover is reaffirmed by the fact the same glossy color is sleeved in a matching dust jacket. A quick flip through reveals excellent illustrations, diagrams, and chapters than contain numerous subsections with page breaks, a format that gives the busy reader plenty of places to pause and pick up again, almost the way one works a fly line on and off the water.

Who is the author? His name may be new to those used to hearing Kreh, Krieger, Rajeff, and Wulff, all giants associated with the cast. Field, who lives in Connecticut, is a former president of the New York City Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the American Casting Association. His casting reputation is solidified by his status as an IFFF Certified Master Casting Instructor. Credentials enough to author a book on the fundamental mechanics of fly fishing.

Field writes in a clear, unadorned style; he is very good in composing phrases that in their succinct accuracy allow a caster to internalize and turn them into mantras:

“Presentation Scenarios”

“Currents and Cover”

“Line Control”

“J” and “L”

“Timing and Tempo”

I invite readers to explore the book for themselves for an elaboration of such phrases. Set aside some time outdoors as well to put into practice what Field has written on the page.

Tenkara is not given any featured place in this book. What may to some appear to be a shortcoming, or weakness, actually on reflection refocuses the fact that, tackle choice aside, it is the angler and the positions, angles, and motions used in the fishing process that matter. A chapter on the double haul has no practical value in the world of fixed line fly fishing, but so much else – line mending, casts in close quarters, the roll, the bow and arrow, et al, can all add to the skill set of those who fish the rod, line, and fly.

Fly-Casting Finesse is available at Urban Angler, Ltd. in Manhattan and, of course, online.

Good Reading.

– rPs 03 22 2017

Postscript: Read more about Fly-Casting Finesse on the Skyhorse Publishing website:  http://skyhorsepublishing.com/titles/6317-9781632204882-fly-casting-finesse

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Jetty Knight

Jetty Knight . . .

Jetty Knight by Maryann Amici (12 2016)

Jetty Knight
by Maryann Amici
(12 2016)

or Nothing, for the Birds . . .

Sometimes one takes tenkara to the ends of the Earth near the end of the year. Can one go father on running foot than the surf zone, North Atlantic Ocean, in December? Here you are.

The Birds

The Birds Family Scolopacidae (12 2016)

The Birds
Family Scolopacidae
(12 2016)

One picks fishing trips like slot machines. A line wins, sometime(s). Engaged in it on the fly is only a strategy. So is Tenkara. Wins are enjoyed, as are fishes, yet these come spaced enough for no exact science to be sure. Time and place judge. Conditions mix. Catches vary.

One day the water was calm, the breeze, barely, but very cold. The tenkara rod extended above surf and tolerated twitches tethered to a Clouser Kebari along the swells. Cormorants and other birds angled nearby. Hours passed. No takers.

The Pattern

Clouser Kebari (rPs 12 2016)

Clouser Kebari
(rPs 12 2016)

The Bait

The Bait (12 2016)

The Bait
(12 2016)

The Waves

The Waves (12 2016)

The Waves
(12 2016)

Next time swells capped white even an 8-weight could only surf high, water bucking the weighted pattern like a reveler on a casino’s mechanical bull. One hour made an epic casting lesson schooled by wind and water as fishes below hugged into boulder rock crevices unreachable.

Sometimes one fishes and catches nothing but a contemplative time, an athletic time, spent in a surf wave of sporting happiness.

Nothing, for the birds?

Slumbering Shell (12 2016)

Slumbering Shell
(12 2016)

— rPs 12 20 2016

Postscript: In memory of Louis J. Amici, Jr. (1947-2016) and Jeff Feldmeier (1966-2016). They always met the train on time.

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December’s End of the Line

December’s End of the Line . . .

Blue Friday Tapered tenkara line excels with a girth hitch. (NYC 12 0 2016)

Blue Friday
The silk end of a tapered tenkara line excels with a girth hitch.
(NYC 12 02 2016)

 

End of the Line

 

There is no decree,

Always though words far and wise;

An ocean in size.

 

The water is free

When you are lucky as we,

See to shining sea.

 

Pass on the noose knot.

No need to see or see not.

You just have to be.

 

–  rPs 12 02 2016

 

Postscript: Holiday Fishing Forecast is Festive!

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A Great Lake

A Great Lake . . .

Steelhead Visit Here (Erie County, PA, 11 2016)

Steelhead Visit Here
(Erie County, PA, 11 2016)

The angler and artist and author has gone off toward high cliffs of layered shale. Oak and maple leaves blow down the vertical faces of stone and enter flow. Fish of steel have returned and reside now in the stream set against the crooks and curves of the geologic foundation.

Fish in silhouette appear, some poised along submerged ledges, others nestled in nests of coalesced autumn leaves.

Fish of thirty inches — pale green, silvered and spotted, others cast in iridescent black and purple — all fresh from another year in Lake Erie, halt and go through these runs and pools and seams.

Downstream, a lake the size of the sea stretches out to where the horizon runs horizontal blue.

Orchards and vineyards along the coast can provide refreshment.

Here it is beside a great lake.

Good travels.

— rPs 11 15 2016

Postscript: In Memory of Christian Hand, poet, chef, droogie, born fifty years ago on this date in 1966.

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Heroes: Gone

Heroes: Gone . . .

 

Harlem Meer Hielo Fino (NYC 01 2016)

Harlem Meer
Hielo Fino
(NYC 01 2016)

 

Thin ice spreads a broad surface steady cold winds skate across. Positioned beside a stand of dry cattail, exposed face feels a slap along the banks of the Harlem Meer, here one calendar month into Winter.

“David Bowie has died.” became an actual phrase as tough to bear. The headline’s words smacked me awake last Monday morning. Temperate December gone as a switch flicked on to a frigid January. What a way to begin. Then a man known to a young outdoorsman as “Grizzly Adams” portrayed by the now late Dan Haggerty, passed away.

Artist; Outdoorsman; Heroes: Gone.

Reading regenerates. Any flagging level of retention or enthusiasm for the written word must be engaged since for the writer the word can at times be work. Reading for professional growth becomes pleasure when the titles are as strong as Crooked Lines by Dominic Garnett and The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. Fishing is a subject rendered in broad terms on these pages. Story, profound and fun, can be found in every line.

January Reading (01 2016)

January Reading
(01 2016)

 

The light of Winter: brilliance filtered clear scenes of brown, white, and blue finished by a tangerine sunset. That light gives hope, braced by added good timing in the form of a gift of new shoes, Saucony cross trainers, paired with an Ebisu tenkara rod that received express professional service from the Repairs Department of Tenkara USA. Support of this speed and quality has allowed me to grieve by living life as fully as I can squeeze It into a day.

Ebisu (01 2016)

Ebisu
(01 2016)

 

Loss can be reabsorbed and channeled into positive productivity and even happiness when pushing into a period of life experienced at a higher notch. David Bowie lived such a life. He pursued multiple art forms to high levels. He could dance. The theater and film embraced his performance. And he painted. David Bowie, artist, left us a large body of painting and sculpture. My appraisal sees his his work fit the historical space adjacent to Francis Bacon when it comes to rendering human personality and psyche through expressionist treatment of the portrait face.

Fly tying and illustration fit right in step with this multimodal creative expression. Combined with writing, these arts and crafts can also bring a fishing book to term. Writing, like most all the creative channels, involves the malleable process of the Plastic Arts.

Small Fry & the Muddy Moreblacks (01 2016)

Small Fry & the Muddy Moreblacks
(01 2016)

 

Green Guarantee in Situ (01 2016)

Green Guarantee in Situ: colored pencil and original fly pattern on paper
(rPs 01 2016)

 

The setting of eleven on my own amplifier can be activated by the blending of art and sport. Running combined with some safe clambering over rocks, safe climbing of trees, legal catch and release fishing. Bird watching, cycling, and yoga can be included as well. After the stretch and a cool down, the documentation through multiple art forms may happen, sometimes. The cycle of (my) Life, work I deem ample enough for a human life span.

David Bowie gave insights into this way of living one’s life. Dan Haggerty breathed life into a character who carried such convictions into the outdoors. Activity and Art: a lasting living legacy, a positive path pointed out so well by two heroes: the sensitive animal man, last name Adams; the putative human, first name David.

– rPs 01 22 2016

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Late Autumn Is December

Late Autumn Is December . . .

 

The Creek in Late Autumn 2015.

The Creek in Late Autumn 2015.

 

They are like memories, ghosts now, some of my friends living still in mind. I see them there when walking a floor of brown leaves over cold mud in misted woods. I see them as well along the gravel path beside a pond reflecting fluttering gold foliage beneath an international blue sky.

I go on, move on an impulse, a grip on the day for a run in the park, some park, somewhere. One time I went into the clear air, saw brown bark of trees, and a blue sky as it does remain bright at autumn’s end. Here, where the fall season is near to being spent, rests in December. The last annual living color breaks away on a breeze. Time shifts, accelerated states, dressed as the city in colors of stone and bark and cloudless sky. Wind more braced blasts through, some days, after a few drawn in mist quite still.

Fishing would present a passage of challenge as I waded along and into browning fields. Stands of trees, copses, work one’s way in patches to a bank worthy of a skater’s exercise. I followed animal’s trail in misted early light. I tracked hide and seek with a young buck of four points. My camera provided one blurred memory.

The stream banked in brown, tan. Stands of Teasel crowned at the end of their bloom offered regal spiked silhouettes drawn by rising sun. The pool stretched long and slow, a rare section of a creek running low at the base of a still hollow. I swung the Green Guarantee along the seam where drowned brown oak leaves met clean gravel and small stones. Water not too tannin, though low, far lower than in past years.

Fishing. A Fallfish struck with two shakes of the head above water. As silver as a tarpon and strong. Three runs up and down flashing copper fins and white belly. Drawn to the net, wet, for a fifteen second photo session before release.

Scales of the Fallfish reflect light as off an uncirculated silver coin. I once found a silver half dollar in the rain, on the lawn of a curb. John F Kennedy was the President pictured in bust profile. So, too, the Fallfish posed for a portrait in net in the cold flow of the creek:

 

Like Coinage. Green Guarantee. Late Autumn 2015

Like Coinage.
Green Guarantee.
Late Autumn 2015

 

Release your fish before they become jittery and you are even competitors.

The Fallfish, Semotilus corporalis, the native, authentic native fish of some American streams, the fish here before the men from the east who were subsumed by the invasive and immigrant people of the west. Another fish, the Cod, drew those same people who have become today’s Americans. The Fallfish welcomed my Green Guarantee, like money, that wonderful binding glue. We agreed, met in the middle, supported by a net. The symbolism was a lived occurrence too compelling not to share.

That’s as far as I go into politics.

Fallfish luster in the net. One learns, too, that down leaves, brown, rest like scales slippery upon a solid clay and gravel bank. Slip they make you do, like ice, but in a more creaking kind of way. The thin ice, of course, it already encrusts the layered leaves in the aged autumn cold. Stand back up, cast again.

I appreciate the utility of vibram soles in such environments.

Behold! A Fish. A photograph. One of Two. One Fallfish, the second and final of the day, fought off my Green Guarantee, weighted and swung, near the center of a long run hip high. “Bonefish set to scale!” I heard myself. “Tenkara! Fly Fishing. Green Guarantee.” Amazement continued.

— rPs 12 08 2015

 

Postscript: One last one for Ketan Ben Caesar. Rest In Stream. Graziare.

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NYC Tenkara Club

NYC Tenkara Club . . .

 

This just in. New York-based tenkara angler, Nelson Garcez, forwarded news of an exciting new development: a NYC Tenkara Club is forming. He says:

“Join us for the inaugural meeting of a New York City based fly-fishing club that congregates TENKARA aficionados. There will be fishing trips to the Croton and Catskills in New York as well as Connecticut and New Jersey. Fly tying sessions in town are also planned.”

When: Tuesday, December 8, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Orvis NY – 489 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

“We will have pizza and wine and a brief presentation about Tenkara fishing around New York City.”

Please RSVP to: info@nyctenkara.org

“Walk-ins are MORE than welcome.”

See YOU there . . .

 

NYC Tenkara Club Flyer

 

– rPs 11 29 2015

 

 

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14th November, 2015

14th November, 2015 . . .
 
for Albert Camus
 
War in Europe, again.
How ironic
And how parallel
 
To continental
Historical cycles
This conflict has arisen
 
To Whenever,
To Wherever,
Perpetual war cataclysm.
 
We people are a species
Stuck rocking
On our own rodent wheel,
 
Rolling
Rock of our own
Rolling.
 
— ron P. swegman
— 14th November, 2015
Reflecting November Rain (NYC 11 2015)

Reflecting November Rain
(NYC 11 2015)

— rPs 11 14 2015

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“Lucky”

“Lucky” . . .

 

Free Parking John Mutone, by mountain bike, loved to explore the bluffs and meadows of the Wiisahickon Valley. (photo from Small Fry: The Lure of the Little by ron P. swegman)

Free Parking
John Mutone loved two wheels to explore the bluffs and meadows of the Wiisahickon Valley.
(photo from Small Fry: The Lure of the Little by ron P. swegman)

Times gripped hand to hand are so deservedly storied that one just has to spill the secret into an ear, or onto a page, in order to keep the living images swimming in the full color flow of good memory.

The fish reflected silver and gold, red and black pebbled along its length: Salmo trutta; a brown trout. Why this one trout? All deserve to be celebrated more than most in this point of view. The answer may be traced to the person and place that made this fish a tale.

John, “Johnny!” is a competitive soul set at level BMX vertical drop hopper. Loud, happy, always holding a paperback in his hand. The other hand would hold up a water bottle or blunt. The guy could juggle roles and boom out in a voice matched with hardwood carpenter’s hands. He could fish, too, quick and precise casts of the fly rod.

Regular, he arrived disciplined as a clock, to drop in before drop off. I sat beside the 19th Street big window alone at a table spaced for three. My luck of place and time: John’s true tale came to my attention; I had been lucky enough to be reading alone at that table when his energized vibe entered the room and cleared away a rainy Tuesday evening.

John joined me with a mug of strong French roast and said: “You, of all people, ARE going to appreciate this.” I folded farther news, sat back. “Really? Shoot, or . . . Truit?”

John said his Memorial Day had begun uneventfully at La Colombe. Double Americano to stay. No regulars, including me, he noted.

“The usual urge to linger didn’t creep up and steal the morning.” He turned head on impulse to find a woman dressed in tight grey cashmere go by. His mouth shaped a whimsical sneer of a smile that was brilliant comedy. Everyone else grinned, too.

“I fueled up, circled once around Rittenhouse Square. Empty, man. No deserters. An older lady with a dog.”

North, he shot the short cycle over to Logan Circle where the parade could be viewed. The Calder fountain had been switched on with the unofficial start of the summer tourist season. The three reclining green bronze figures representing Wissahickon Creek, the Delaware River, and the Schuylkill River put him in a fishing mood.

She was with her family in DC. Whoa. No go to anyone else to mountain bike Wiss-ward with a plop into the secret pool in the park. He headed back to the crib and gathered his fishing gear to go.

Solo outing, quiet time, had evolved into a slow, fishless day along the water during one of the coolest spring seasons in his years of memory. The hillsides above the water had gone green, a line of goslings followed behind their mother goose. The river and its fish appeared, by their absence, to be still mired in late March. The list of fishes that normally wake in May water have a slower motivation rate when the thermometer continues to drop into the 40’s and 50’s, as it had that entire month, each and every time the sun sank below the horizon.

By four in the afternoon the incoming tide had reclaimed most of the rocks that make fishing a fly along the bank intermittingly possible. John didn’t bring the kayak and was in no mood to wade. He returned to where he had begun, and there remained just enough bank and time for a fellow shod in sneakers to make a last cast or two.

He checked his line and fly, added a second small bb to sink it more quickly in the deepening water, and sent out a back cast parallel to a current seam. The pattern went with the flow on a wet-fly swing and, once both line and fly were straight and hanging in the current, he began a retrieve with small, slow strips. The sky was becoming overcast, giving the river its most “fishy” of its myriad looks. Yoga with line and staff in motion and contemplation, dig?

The water’s surface reflected dark greens, liquid grays, and stony whites. Just as the fly pattern neared the one rock still partially exposed and dry, John lifted his rod into the high stick position, and there witnessed nothing less than an —

ERUPTION!

An aerodynamic fish launched out of the water, missile profile defying gravity by swimming in the air before his wide eyes, tenaciously chasing an evening meal that happened to be his feathered streamer.

A fish, and a very game fish at that. Action! At last! John had missed the grab yet, somehow, instinctively sent out the fly on an attenuated roll cast that placed the pattern just a few feet down from where the fish had surfaced. He was filled with the thrill, adrenaline surged, and yet.

He felt puzzled, too. The fish in the mental photograph he held was leaner than a bass and had a gold belly, and he swore he had seen spots as thick as a leopard’s, or a very wild trout’s.

“Couldn’t be” one of those. He half spoke out loud and half thought. “Not in the Schuylkill. Not here, man. Really?”

Maybe he had hooked grand –

SLAM!

The fish hit again in the same spot beside the rock, this time below the waterline. John set the hook and was suddenly attached to a taker that raced upriver, making a faster, longer run than most fish of size. The sky was mostly overcast now, an ageing, graying day, and the air and water were unseasonably cool, almost cold –

Trout weather.

Meanwhile, John was battling a fish near a big stone, a fish that felt like a trout. But this was not possible, since he was also facing the skyline of Philadelphia, Philly and that cynical line he had endured at La Colombe, the performance that later gave the conversation a hilarious flavor .

“Hear it once and out the other.”

“Not this time,” Ronnie. “This one keeps. It’s a keeper.”

“No Sure Kill! of a river !” And, to Johny’s amazement, three runs later, he landed a brown trout, a Center City Salmo trutta. And he had brought a camera to provide.

“Proof.”

He snapped as efficiently as he could change a tire on the circuit. “The fly fell out on its own, dude. Like perfect, man.”

John gently, respectfully, revived the trout; a fish that seemed to be less shocked to see and feel John than he was to see and feel it. He had to believe, though; the proof was holding, strong yet winded, between his two submerged hands.

“Lucky.”

John christened the fish.

“I was relieved I had caught it. Catch, and perform the release, not so much for pride, but for pedagogy.”

He hoped he had taught the fish a master class in selectivity. John wanted this one to never, ever, again encounter an angler feathered like the cormorant, or some hot shot named Ronnie who uses feathers bound on a hook.

Many anglers do fish for food to sauté’ or fry. Some even bake. Johny and I both bear witness to having seen most of it all. We saw hookers off the wall holding everything caught. Kept in a bucket. People minding rods beside the gazebo on the bluff across the river. Philly was going to be taking home some plump white perch for a Memorial Day backdoor fry.

“Who would have kept “Lucky” in a bucket?”

“Absolutely everybody, man. That fish would be bathing in steamed butter and onions somewhere.” Johnny just knew.

His keeper was a tale given to a fishing fan who fished only for stories to tell at the café.

John had a new one for sure, so he released his grip on the main character that slowly, almost hesitantly, cruised back to home stone, which now showed less than the tip of an iceberg.

“Lucky! Yes, you are!” John said, for both fish and fisher. “Lucky! Yes! Lucky Memorial Day!”

He was completely aware he was beginning to babble just as the tide was continuing to rise. The Schuylkill hugged him up to the knees and held his admiration; he had not yet considered moving from the “Lucky” spot. John could have stood there until the next day. Such situations often surround the satisfied. Damp was giving way to completely soaked as the reality he had caught a brown trout in Center City Philadelphia sank into permanent memory. Haloed in a soft rain, he at last waded, happy and a bit bewildered, out of “The Sure Cool!” river.

John slapped an envelope onto the worn wood tabletop in between us, breaking the spell of story.

“Open it,” he said with a smile.

I did so, and pulled out a 4×6 color photograph of his big right hand gently gripping a long brown trout. Pictured there also was a single liquid crystal of the river frozen in mid drip and the unmistakable painted gables of Boathouse Row in the blurred impressionist background.

– rPs 10 16 2015

 

Postscript: for John Mutone. “Ride in Peace, Guy.”

Small Fry: The Lure of the Little

Small Fry: The Lure of the Little

 

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