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Going to need a bigger net

by Mark Denovich
(Pittsburgh, PA)

Warning: Non-traditional use of tenkara rods to follow. Purists, avert your eyes.

The Monongahela River a few miles upstream from downtown Pittsburgh, is one of my closest fishing options. The river is big, slow, and muddy. Shoreline fishing is challenging due to limited access and my nemesis: trees. Skunked on my first scouting trip, I went back for my first attempt at tenkara fishing from a kayak.

Fishing with a Kiyose 43MF, with 12' of #4 level line, and 4' of Seagar Invisix 4lb fluorocarbon (I already had a giant spool, and it's way cheaper than tippet) I soon found that a shorter level line section would be useful. Sitting in the kayak, I couldn't reach high enough to easily get the heavily weighted flies I was using clear of the water when starting the cast. Handlining the 16" smallmouth I soon caught was made tricky with the long line too. I persevered.

I paddled out of the cove where I put-in and into the main channel. The current, wind, and passing coal barges, meant I was frequently having to paddle and fish at the same time. It was in one of those moments, when my line suddenly went straight, my arm strained. Before I had the chance to even think "snag", the point where my line met the water took off upstream. "Holy Shi..." I dropped the paddle into my lap as I needed a second hand to steady the rod. I watched nervously as my rod was bent like a candy cane and I began to be towed upstream. The fight went on for about a minute or so before he tuckered out and I finally got a look at what I caught.

At 22" and around 5lbs, this channel catfish is my largest fish caught to date while fly fishing. The fly was a hastily constructed olive and white, zonker-tailed, hour glass-eyed, wooly bugger variant on a size 2 hook. I then promptly stuck that fly in a tree and called it a day.

I intend to be back for more.

Comments for Going to need a bigger net

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Aug 23, 2013
Nice fish!
by: TenkaraBum

Mark, if you're going to be catching fish like that, make your next fly a blue and white yarn body rather than an olive and white...

I think kayaking and tenkara go together about as well as backpacking and tenkara. Made for each other.

Aug 23, 2013
Nice cat!
by: Farmer

These kitties are a hoot with a keiryu rod.

Sep 03, 2013
by: Mark Denovich

While I was fighting this fish, I did briefly curse the fact that I failed to feature blue in any way in this fly. A blue fly certainly would not have been a handicap. The water was so muddy the blue I really needed was cheese. Better chance of smelling it than seeing it in that soup.

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

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