This past year I participated in the 4th Annual Driftless Flyathlon in Yellow River State Forest, Iowa. It is a race that mixes running and fishing.
I had never been in a race before, let alone felt the pressure of trying to catch a trout during a race. As you might imagine, it is an interesting event that attracts all levels of runners and anglers. One can walk it casually with a beer in-hand or go as hardcore and fast as they’d like. I chose the latter because it was my first time in the event.
With five-and-a-half miles of flat trail, I ran as far as I could and bushwhacked to where no one else was. I had a great looking run to myself that was on the narrower side for Big Paint Creek. While I was exhausted, the feeling quickly turned to excitement as I hooked into an eleven-inch brown trout. As I fought the fish, I noticed an even larger trout beginning to follow, but being in a race I was not going to be picky; I took what I could get.
After landing the trout, I took out the official ruler to take a picture to prove my catch. I chose to keep the brown wet and in the net; not wanting to put it in the dry sand and grass. Then what happened? It flopped out as I was just about to take the picture!
Luckily, my disappointment was short lived. The very next cast I landed that big male I had seen in pursuit of my first fish! He was fourteen inches, which ended up tying me for the biggest fish of the Flyathlon. What a great experience and event!
I was using the Amago by Tenkara USA, an 11 foot tapered furled line, 4-feet of tippet and the DRAGONtail size 12 pheasant tail kebari. I almost exclusively use that one fly 99% of the time, it works out West and in the Wisconsin Driftless!
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2021-22 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.
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