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Feeling Crowded?

by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)

Rivers . . .

Rivers . . .

I mentioned in a previous blog post about one great advantage in tenkara: you can often fish waters that others find difficult. I’d like to use the above photos to explore that topic in more detail.

Nowadays, it’s harder to find unspoiled spots to fish. In my neck of the woods (South Central Texas), the population is increasing, and the number of anglers is growing. If you’re strictly a bank fisherman, with traditional spinning or baitcasting gear, there are limited spots that work for you. You know those areas I’m talking about . . . that worn patch on the shore that everyone can reach and anyone can use. You can see the empty worm cartons and candy wrappers a quarter mile away.

If someone else is already parked in that spot, you’re out of luck
Tenkara or keiryu fishing, with various lengths of rods and different casting techniques, opens up a whole new world. You can fish that tight brushy creek with a slingshot cast or that wide, slow-moving river, with its abrupt rapids, eddies, and channels. You can work areas that others can’t. You don’t have to cast in a crowd.

It’s a freeing experience. It’s likely that both the number of fish you catch and your enjoyment per outing will increase. A beginner might imagine that the relatively short line of tenkara severely limits where one can fish. I find that the opposite is true. In fact, some of the best opportunities may be right in front of you — that little stretch of water other anglers ignore.
To give you one example, I love to fish Guadalupe River State Park, just north of San Antonio. Hey, I can be there in less than an hour from my house. But, it’s still a state park near a big city.

There are certain sites that everyone fishes, and — though I’m a friendly guy — I don’t enjoy bumping elbows with other anglers. You fish over there, and I’ll stay over here.

Well, tenkara allows me to do that. I slip on my waders and boots, step into the water, and follow the channels and rocky shoals where I want to go. Even on the busiest days, I can reach plenty of “unbusy” areas. I can wade to the other side of the river and fish under that overhanging tree that almost no one else can reach. I can angle up that tight, brushy creek to the side. I can even stand in the middle of a “rock garden” and work that frothy channel. I find fish in “little spots” that traditional anglers don’t think about.
So, if you’re wondering whether or not to try tenkara, consider your fishing circumstances. Do you want to try waters that others overlook or can’t easily reach? Would you like to go where others aren’t? The right tenkara rod and gear will get you there.

Comments for Feeling Crowded?

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Feb 28, 2018
Agreed, but...
by: Chris Stewart


I agree with you completely, but the one piece of gear that allows you to fish that way really isn't a tenkara rod. It's a pair of waders!

That's a point I tried to make in my Ultralight Worm Fishing article. I see spin fishermen from time to time, but I haven't once seen one wading. As you say, most of the good spots are not right in front of the easiest access points.

A lot of my fishing time last year was spent spin fishing. Like tenkara, it is fun and effective. It is more fun and more effective if you wade.

Feb 28, 2018
Waders and Skinny Water
by: John Evans

Chris makes a valid point about the waders. I wonder what it is in the history and culture of fishing that tends to direct waders towards the fly fishermen? I seldom see spinning, spin casting, or bait casting anglers using waders. Maybe, it's the thought that "I don't have to wade way over there because I can cast way over there."

Another point, now that I think about it, is that the history of tenkara in high gradient Japanese streams at least causes us to see the possibilities in "skinny water." If it's shallow and narrow, many anglers overlook the possibilities. Some of my best fishing days have been on the thin blue lines that other fisherman tend to ignore. Tenkara allows you to work those stretches thoroughly and quietly.

Mar 01, 2018
Feeling Crowded
by: Alex Argyros

Actually, in your (our) neck of the woks, it's not even waders that will get you far from the crowd. Most of the year, we wade wet. A nice hike, on land or in the water, will usually find one solitude on most of the Hill Country streams, even the Grand Central Terminal of them all, the Guadalupe tailwater.

I split my time on warm water Hill Country streams between tenkara and ultralight spinning. Each has its charms. One discovery I made last year is that panfish and Rios have a weakness for small purple squirmy worm flies. One of these on a tenkara rod usually makes for a pleasant, and busy, day.

Mar 01, 2018
Skinny water wading...
by: Tony Schollmeier

Skinny water here (MN/WI) is often dominated by Sunfish/Bass/Carp, Suckers or Trout (depending on stream temp mostly).

To be honest, I rarely see anyone fishing small streams around here period, maybe it is the piles of lakes and the larger rivers all over the place.

The only small streams with decent numbers of anglers are trout streams. And those anglers are usually fly anglers. That said, growing up in western WI it wasn't too unusual to find wading spin anglers for trout. I feel like I see fewer stream trout spin anglers period.

"Packing light" makes a big difference when wading - lots of conventional tackle anglers don't pack light so wading seems like too much work to them.

Anyway, wading small waters are the final frontier for sure. Lots of the greatest angling I've experienced is inaccessible any other way. All that said, I hate waders and only wear them if wet wading is impractical.

Mar 01, 2018
by: Les Albjerg

I prefer wading wet. One of the best purchases I made last year are the wader gaiters from TenkaraBum. I found that by wearing quick drying pants, and these gaiters I had three advantages. One, they do provide some warmth in cold water. Two, they provide some protection from brush and when you bump on rocks. Three, they don't restrict you like regular waders, and you can wear shoes that are good for hiking as well. I was able to enjoy colder rougher water with them.

Working the tight spots where there is a crowd often leads to jealously. At Wilson Springs, I have 3 guys who mock me every time I fish near them because I catch way more fish than them! The last time out, I caught 3 fish in less than 10 minutes. I then moved to the "Trophy Pond" and I am sure they were the ones that sent the Game Officer over to check me. He had to work through a good 400 yards of brush to find me. Now if I see them, I go to one of my other spots. What I can't understand is they never fish the eddy that I find so productive.

As others have shared, there are some amazing fish in small water! My last nice fish, (16 inch Brown) from skinny water 200 yards from 6 fly fishermen fishing the main Boise River, was caught in a side channel about 12 feet across. There was no sign that anyone had fished that channel since the water had subsided. I caught several other fish as well.

Again, another well written article John! And by the way, I caught the above fish with the Tenryu Spectra Spinning Rod. River Spinning is way different than anything I have ever done before. It is a lot of fun!

Mar 01, 2018
waders or boots?
by: Bill

My thin blue lines are really shallow so I use tall rubber boots. They get me our into the edges where I can get away from the willows and brush a bit. Easy off & in.

Mar 01, 2018
Waders, Boots, Gaiters, or . . .
by: John Evans

Interesting discussion! I appreciate the good comments and thoughtful remarks. Most of the year I just wet wade, but right now I'm still using waders for warmth. I have an old pair of tennis shoes that I use during the summer months because they give good traction and are easy to slip on and off. The problem I run into with just boots is that I inevitably step into a hole and end up with sloshing boots full of water! I think anglers learn to use whatever works in their area and climate, but wading of some kind really expands your fishing opportunities.

Mar 02, 2018
Jealous of your Summers!
by: Les Albjerg

John - I just had to laugh. We never have the "bathtub" conditions in Idaho that I experienced wading wet in Texas last summer. I found the best way to cool off when I was fishing your country at the end of June was to take a dip in a deep pool and let the breeze cool me off with a bit of evaporation. One of the creeks I fished wet two weeks after my Texas trip here was a balmy 48 degrees! A dip in that would have been invigorating! That said, you don't have Brook trout in Texas.

Mar 02, 2018
by: John Evans

It's sure a trade-off, isn't it? I enjoy our mild winters, but some of those 100 + degree days in July can be tough. And, as you say, you're going to have different fish. Perhaps in retirement, someday, I'll be able to fish for brookies. Right now, I sort of substitute Guadalupe bass for them ("Texas trout").

Mar 04, 2018
Spinning But Not Wading?
by: Herb S.

In Michigan waders or sometimes hip boots are what most stream or river fishermen wear whether fly fishing or spin fishing. Sure, we have bank anglers, mostly bait dunkers, but wading is the common way to go. That’s just the opposite of what Chris has experienced in New York, and it gets me to wondering. Is it tradition or the nature of the streams? Of course, many of our streams have thickly brushed banks and wading out a bit, at least, helps keep back casts out of the vegetation and most of us like to cover a fair amount of water. Wading here seems to be very popular for all kinds of tackle with artificials or bait. What’s the difference back east?
Happy wading,

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