It's not often that you catch a rare species of fish. I had heard of Mud Sunfish before, but I'd never seen one. Come to think of it, though, I had seven species on the target list for the day, only one of which I had ever seen before. And it was fishing for that one familiar species, chain pickerel, when I caught the mud sunfish. It just goes to show, you never know what you are going to catch.
For some time I had wondered how the titanium line would do with one of the longer keiryu rods. It was quite windy that day and I used a 15' titanium line with the Daiwa Kiyose 53MF. It worked pretty well, but then, the big Diawa will cast anything from a size 3 Sunline to one of John Vetterli's long twisted fluorocarbon lines. I still think it is a good wind line but on a still day I would use a light fluorocarbon line instead.
At our next stop, when fishing for sunfish, I caught my pickerel. I'd caught pickerel many times before, but I wanted one for the TenkaraBum Challenge. I'd caught one just before the challenge started, and posted it as an example of how to submit an entry, but it didn't count. This one did.
This pickerel surprised me on several counts. First, it hit a size 12 bead head Killer Bugger, which was quite a bit smaller than the size 2 Killer Bugger I'd used at the previous stop when I was actually fishing for pickerel. Second, instead of the 20 lb test bite tippet I'd had for the pickerel (which had gotten bitten through on my first hit of the day), this pickerel was caught with 7X tippet. I must have just barely hooked it, with the hook eye and vulnerable tippet out of the reach of those razor sharp teeth.
Third, I was also a bit surprised at how easily the extremely soft Nissin SP 390 (long since discontinued) subdued the pickerel. I've had reports of trout much larger than this pickerel caught with the SP 390, but it is different to experience for yourself the effectiveness with which the supple rod handles a nice fish. I really think it would surprise a lot of people, but the softer rods are really quite effective.
Our third spot that day was a salt marsh. I suppose it is a bit strange that living on an island on the coast, I do virtually no salt water fishing. I've heard of mummichog for years, but I'd never seen one or caught one.
One of the real benefits of the TenkaraBum Challenge (at least for the relatively few anglers who are participating in it) is that it pushes us out of our comfort zone and leads us to try new techniques and fish in new locations for fish whose habits and habitats are foreign to us. It has turned out to be a very interesting undertaking.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a trip report encouraging people to fish the parks. On this trip, we both caught mummichog in a county park with well maintained walkways right along the marsh. With the Nissin SP390, I could reach into the marsh and fish a very short line. Using a black Killer Bugger with a white glass bead head, I could easily sight fish in a waterway whose bottom was much too dark to see the Bugger if it hadn't had the white bead.
I prefer sight fishing for micros when possible but I have caught several by watching the line for twitches or hesitations. Even a size 3 line is a bit heavy for micros to move, though. For a while, coach and I were fishing side by side, he with a size 3 tenkara line and me with a keiryu rig consisting of 6X tippet for my line and one #10 shot to provide weight for casting. The mummichog, which were all about 3" long, could easily cause the 6X line to twitch or move to the side, and I was having pretty good luck with it. Coach, on the other hand, had a much harder time feeling or seeing the takes with his size 3 line. We were both fishing the same fly, so I attribute my greater success to the lighter line.
Coach is an excellent fisherman and will often outfish my soundly. For the mummichog, though, I am certain that my lighter line gave me a significant advantage.
I have known for a little while now that keiryu anglers in Japan are moving to lighter and lighter lines. That is something I have not yet tried, but hope to this weekend. I have a rod that is rated for line thinner than 10X Varivas. I want to see how small a bead head black Killer Bugger I can cast with it.