Lake Fishing Tenkara from a Watermaster Raft

by Jeffry Gottfried
(Portland, Oregon)

Before leaving home to travel to a lake in Iregon's Cascade Mountains, I asked my friend and fellow tenkara angler, "Is there any reason to bring a tenkara rod with me?" "No. None at all" was his response. I would be fishing wooly buggers deep and this would not lend itself to tenkara fishing. I packed my 6 wt rod and slow sink line, flies and inflatable Watermaster raft with oars and fins for hands-free navigation/positioning and just for the hell of it, I packed my Ito rod (Tenkara USA).

When I got out onto the lake, I rowed to the bay where a stream was entering and stated fishing a small nymph on my sinking line. There was no apparent action on the surface. Soon, the fishing really picked up with fish after fish smashing the size 16 bead-head pheasant tail nymph. After about an hour, the mayflies hit the water and fish were rising all around me. The light bulb went off in my head: I've got done size 16 black mayflies with white wings, just like those in the water and I can present them beautifully with my tenkara rod. I'd spot a rise, place my fly within the ring and the fight was on!! I stopped counting after 20 fish, both native cutthroats and hatchery rainbows. It was amazingly effective.

I was able to make the most precise and gentle presentations and the fish were taking them. Soon the wind came up. This was a unique opportunity since I could simply get upwind of rising fish with my tiny fly on a 6' tippet flying in the air like a kite. I'd lower my rod, place the fly on a rising fish and the fish was on.

These fish ranged in size from 10"-17". Despite the early success fishing deep with weighted nymphs on my Western rod, my Tenkara skills and gear proved to be most effective in catching rising fish. Imagine if I had heeded my friends suggestion and left my tenkara rod at home because this was lake fishing and one must fish deep in a lake! This day was an incredible eye-opener for me! Try it !!

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