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Blue Line Special
by Les Albjerg
Blue Line Special
Here is a picture of what I call a "blue line special." Chris often talks about fishing the blue lines that don't have names. This particular creek does have a name. It actually begins in the High Desert south of where I live at close to 8,000 feet. The discovered "blue line special" area is much closer to where it enters the Snake River. I was inspired by Chris' last fishing report. I was moved by the following statement, "It's not the simplicity of the gear that makes tenkara interesting, it's the complexity of what you can do with it."
The creek in the picture is truly a Tenkara creek above 4,500 feet, and has nice red-band rainbow trout in it. It is a high gradient stream. I have fished up there. That said, I would venture to say where this picture is taken strict Tenkara isn't the best fixed line method. I would broaden out what Chris said to say, "All fixed line fishing brings a complexity that makes it intriguing, challenging, and enjoyable." I have not fished this part of the creek yet. From where I am standing, I have observed carp, sunfish, and smallmouth bass. I could fish from the bridge, and from where I am standing, but I am working on getting permission from the landowners so my fishing experience won't be so limited. I am sure I will fish it with some form of bait when the time comes. I am finding that the planning is almost as much fun as the fishing. As I have observed this spot several times, there are no tell-tale signs that anyone fishes this spot.
When pondering Chris' great fishing report, I realized I have only fished "true Tenkara" three times this year. In all of my fishing trips this year, that is it! I will say, those three times were very fun and rewarding. The reason I have not fished "true Tenkara" is that it wasn't the best method. For example, this morning I went to one of the big pools at Wilson Springs. It is a large Spring that comes bubbling out of the ground and maintains a nice 55-60 degree temperature. It is not a high gradient stream, but an ultra clear slow moving pool that is part of the headwaters of Wilson Creek. I began fishing to schooling trout that I could see with a kebari. They wouldn't come up to it, so I put on a Dinsmore #10 split shot. One of those tiny shots doesn't take away from the grace of the classic Tenkara cast. With the TB 40, I was able to still make a full cast without a huge splash, and the rig settled gently down to the fish. I did all sorts of manipulations, but could only get lookers and followers. I then switched to a Utah Killer Bug with the same results. I then switched to a beadhead black killer bugger, with the same results. I was using 8x fluorocarbon tippet, and the fish didn't appear to be leader shy, but simply not interested in the flies. I finally got out a squirmito fly, and had a trout grab at it. At this point I was done with flies. I had brought three different Mummy Worms with me. I tied on my favorite hook the Gamakatsu R10B size 14 and proceeded to fish all three mummy worms. I was still using the # 10 shot because Mummy Worms do float. I had one looker with the red Mummy Worm. My trusted natural color failed me too. I was determined to catch one of these fish. About every 2-4 minutes, a pod of 3-6 nice trout would go cruising by! So, I took the shot off, and put a Red Wiggler on. I made a nice gentle cast, and pulled some slack into the line and let the tippet slowly sink as I lifted the rod. (The slow current was coming toward me.) As the Wiggler descended and was about 8 inches from the bottom, a trout hammered it like it was being run over by a freight train! Five fish later, it was time to go home and get ready for work. My point, you have to learn what works on the water you are fishing. My second point, is I had a lot of fun working through the progression of finding out what did and didn't work.
What I have discovered in the past six weeks, is the need to evaluate where I fish to determine what is the best rod and setup is to fish that area. I find myself fishing my Kyogi rods when there are large fish out and about. It is as fun as the Kurenai when fishing the tiny creeks. I wouldn't want to catch a 12.5 pound carp on the Kurenai! It wouldn't be much of a thrill to catch a 4 inch brook trout on a Kyogi. Picking the right rod is part of the fun too.
I have also made a commitment to try to fish close to home. (I have taken 3 nice fishing trips this year too.) I would encourage all of you to get a map, and draw a circle at 10 miles, 25 miles, and 50 miles from your house and explore the fishing opportunities that are close to home. I have spent a considerable amount of time this summer fishing close to home. I will continue this practice because I get to fish a whole lot more. That said, by doing some exploring on Google Earth, and OnX Maps, as well as some other mapping tools, I have discovered at least 4 true high gradient streams that are worth exploring with the grace of Tenkara. I have also discovered many places to fish fixed line using other methods that may not have the finesse, but they do certainly provide the thrill! There is one creek I am really looking forward to now that the leaves are gone. As soon as rifle season for deer hunting is over, I will be on that stream. I don't want to be rustling the bushes and the willows near the creek with crazy rifle hunters in the field. I currently have 14 places identified on my maps that need checking out!
So, as Chris pondered methods in his fishing report, I would say, it is fun and adventuresome to also ponder, "Where am I going to fish next?" As well as, "What method will work the best?" Tight lines everyone, and I am looking forward to hearing your adventures this fall. Have you found any Blue Line Specials?
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma