Essay by Ana Echenique MD
I started my tenkara path as a young girl. Growing up in South Florida, my father loved the water. Being a blue collar guy with four kids, he did not have the means to purchase a boat. So what did he do? He built a cabin cruiser in our front driveway (of course he did). He instilled that “can do” attitude in all of us. He named the boat after my brother Carlos and me. The boat was named AnaCar.
One of my earliest memories of fishing was remembering my dad standing in the boat and picking me up from the dock and lowering me to the boat. Of course in South Florida salt water fishing was the focus. Drift fishing, reef fishing and trolling. With my little hands I was quickly put in charge of rigging ballyhoo for trolling. It was a wonderful time which I enjoyed until I lost my father to dementia.
After I moved to Utah I was drawn back to the fishing world, but found lake fishing with spinning gear unsatisfying. I observed fly fishing along the Provo River and began to learn more about the “art”. During my research, I stumbled across the Tenkara USA website and was fascinated. The history, the elegance, the simplicity of the concept, and the complexity of mastery of tenkara got me “hooked” (so to speak). I purchased my first rod, the Sato from their site and have never looked back.
I was fortunate to find willing and knowledgeable tenkara guides in my area, namely ERiK Ostrander of Tenkara Guides as well as Nathan Sutherland from Utah Tenkara Guide. I have learned a great deal from both and look forward to more time on the water with them.
I knew when I found tenkara that this was for me. I love the solitude and challenge of finding and hiking the mountain streams. I love the silence (no talking or sounds of traffic) which allows me to really take in the subtle beauty and sounds of nature. It really brought me back to the joy I experienced with my father so many years ago.
Especially with my hectic medical career, the quiet times have become even more important and precious. I feel so blessed to live so close to so many natural wonders and have the opportunity to fish in beautiful mountain streams. Tenkara really “saved” me during the pandemic as it was an amazing outlet and was invaluable as a form of stress relief during these trying times.
I joined Facebook this year and have had the fortune to connect with many fixed line friends. I am really looking forward to actually meeting some of them in person at the TenkaraCamp in North Carolina, and later in the year in the Driftless, and hopefully in Oregon at the Tenkara Bug Out. I also wish to attend the Oni School at Sundance in the Fall.
I know this is getting a bit long, but as my skills develop in the future, I want to work introducing folks to tenkara. Perhaps working with veterans groups (or Wounded Warriors), or school groups to bring them the happiness and peace that tenkara has brought to me.
Ana Echenique MD, has embraced tenkara fishing, focusing on mountain stream fishing. She has a long fishing history and enjoys the simplicity and challenge of tenkara.
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