Sea-run Cutthroat in Puget Sound on Tenkara

by Jeffry Gottfried
(Portland, Oregon, USA)

I just returned home to Portland, from Gig Harbor/Puget Sound where I was fly fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout and resident coho salmon (salmon that never leave Puget Sound). I brought along my 13.5 ft Tenkara USA 6:4 rod, just in case an opportunity presented itself. My main rod was an 11 ft 6 wt switch rod with which I can cast a country mile. I was using a size 12 "Rose Keta" fly, designed to look like a salmon smolt.

After quitting fishing for a lunch break, I met a man who was a bamboo rod maker, a very friendly and interesting guy, willing to share his knowledge of Puget Sound fly fishing. I told him that I was a tenkara angler, teacher and guide. He got very excited and told me that he attends an annual gathering of cane rod builders in Canada and that this year, someone was giving a presentation on building cane tenkara rods. He also mentioned that he had never actually seen a tenkara rod before.

I jumped at the opportunity to show-off my tenkara rod and my skills and dug my rod out of the back of my car for him to check out and cast. After doing so, he said, "Let's see what you can do with that thing. Go down below and I watch from the bridge." I climbed down to the narrow outlet between Puget Sound and an in-flowing creek, the same place in which I had been fishing for about an hour. I tied on the Keta Rose and proceeded to cast across what little current there was since it was almost low tide. I cast upstream, twitched the rod and then did the same downstream.

All of a sudden, from the depths of this narrow passage came a beautiful sea-run cutthroat that whacked my fly and took off running. My new found friend watched the show from the bridge above. I turned my rod a right angles to the fish at water level, first in one direction and then in the other to help tire him out.I also ran after it as fast as my new titanium hip could carry me ie not too fast). I finally beached one of the nicest cutthroats that I had caught in Puget Sound and quickly released it. Three casts later, I was into another cutthroat, this one smaller, about 12", but as the tide started to run, the action had died down and an hour later, I quit for the day, a very happy and surprised man. After making long, two handed casts all day, I hooked and landed the only fish of of the day on my tenkara rod about 20' away from me. Could it be the superior presentation of a fly designed to look like a little fish, made possible by tekara technique that made the difference?

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