Big Trout on Tenkara

by Jeffry Gottfried

I fished in the Bighorn River with friends from Wyoming: the annual "Big Fish and Lots of Em Trip" from April 10-13. We floated each day, based at Thermopolis. The weather was cold 20 degrees in the AM with a high of 50 degrees more or less. The water was clear with lots of blue winged olives hatching throughout the afternoon. During the floats long casts to rising fish was the order of the day, so I left my tenkara rods in their cases. However, in the evening, after the second day's float, a friend who rents a house in Thermopolis challenged me to fish in a water near his house and demonstrate to him that I could actually land a big trout on a tenkara rod.

Following his instructions (or so I thought), I waded across a small channel to an island during the 45 minutes that I had before dinner was served. I was fishing a 13.5' 6:4 Amago rod using a furled line that I made myself and a 6' tippet of 5x. At the end of the tippet was a size 18 soft-hackle brown spider with a red butt.

I cast the fly upstream into sinking water that dropped the fly deep into a pool and then twitched the rod tip and BANG! I was hooked onto a 17" Bighorn rainbow that came rocketing out of the water and swimming rapidly upstream. Using the leverage of the long rod I applied whatever pressure I could and kept changing the direction of my pulls so as to use the current to my advantage and tire out the fish. In all, it jumped 5 times. It was like a dance or a martial arts competition:action/reaction/use the opponent's strength against him/tire him out.

I was finally able to bring the big fish to shore, photograph it and release it. This was the biggest trout that I had ever caught on tenkara gear, until the next day when I caught a 19" rainbow! Check out the photos. Come tenkara fishing with Educational Recreational Adventures and thereby support youth fly fising/tenkara fishing camps this spring/summer/fall.

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