I’m 99% a stream angler and 99.99% a trout angler, which is why tenkara is such a good fit for me. But when my good friend G.T. (aka, the Gun Nut) asked me to fish a small lake he’d discovered for bass, I didn’t hesitate. You see, G.T. and I have been friends since second grade (we’re in our 60s now), and we enjoy each others’ company. In fact, it was G.T. who introduced me to wade fishing, way back in our late teens or early twenties. And it was G.T. who got busted with me for littering in 1970 (a story for another day; we were innocent). In addition to fishing, we also do a little hunting and target shooting together.
Anyway, I was interested in learning what I could accomplish fishing from the lakeshore with my 12′ Iwana. Admittedly, this is not what tenkara was developed for, but I am still learning the boundaries (or lack thereof) of tenkara.
G.T. and I arrived at the lake early on a great spring morning–60 degrees, sunny, low humidity. A light breeze was rippling the surface. The lake in question is 12 acres, the shoreline nicely vegetated with wildflowers and small trees. A few feet from shore is a steep dropoff. The murky green/brown water makes it impossible to judge the depth. I rigged my Iwana in the usual fashion with a 12′ length of #4.5 level line and a five-foot section of 5x tippet. The first fly I chose was a #8 Stimulator, thinking a large offering might be appropriate for bass. After a few casts, my angler’s intuition informed me that this was not the correct approach. I then switched to a black wooly bugger, and, man, did it look seductive in the water. Casting this fly was a little difficult at first, but I soon learned to slow down my casting stroke to get the maximum distance on the cast, about 20′. I waited for the wooly bugger to sink out of sight, then began retrieving by slowly raising and lowering the rod tip while gradually working the fly toward the bank. It didn’t take long for a small bass to pounce. Voila’–my first bass ever with tenkara.
G.T. was employing an open-face spinnng rig with a rubber worm and outfished me about six-to-one, primarily, I think, because he could cast at least twice as far. He tried to be magnanimous about his success, but I could see the SMIRK ON HIS FACE!
So, what did I learn today?
1) Streamer fishing is feasible and effective with tenkara, especially, I would think, with a longer, heavier tenkara rod.
2) Fishing a lake of this type from a small boat would increase the efficacy of tenkara bass fishing.
3) Using a longer line would, of course, give more “reach” from shore but would become unwieldly at some point.
4) My six weight (currently gathering dust) probably would have been more effective due to the fact that I can cast it farther.
5) There are a lot of ways to have tenkara fun!
I might just use the rubber worm with my Iwana next time.