Stories Tenkara Trout & Char

The Meadow in the Mountains

Essay by Martin Montejano

There’s a place in the mountains that holds a special meaning to me. A place I only visit on occasion to try to respect its peace and tranquility.

A short drive down a rocky road brings you to a small, open valley. Trees border an open meadow. A narrow creek runs through, with bushes and tall grass lining the sides of gin-clear water. Fallen trees create crossing points at areas that aren’t narrow enough to jump across.

While the fishing can be tough, there’s something very relaxing about this place. Birds overhead and the occasional deer add to the serenity. Beyond that, it may be the certain temporariness of it all.

As most meadow streams are, clear water without much movement allows the fish to see your approach, often before you realize they’re there. Further back in the tall grass, you make your casts not knowing if you’ll catch a fish or a large branch lodged in the side of the bank.

The cast must be delicate and precise. If the line hits the water first, your chances of catching a fish in that section vanish.

While the characteristics of this stream make it a challenge of technique, it also presents an opportunity to observe wild brook trout. If you’re stealthy enough to creep up without scaring any of them off, you can find stretches of the creek where the yellow-marbled backs and the white tips of the fins can be seen moving in and out of cover along the banks, gently swimming at the seams of the current, and coming to the surface on occasion.

The brook trout on this spring-fed creek are advantageous, and quick to act when opportunity presents food. A slow approach gave me the chance to watch a brookie swimming in and out of the plants lining a straight stretch of the creek. Water flowed under a log and tumbled over some rocks into the stretch bringing plenty of food through the section.

After a few minutes of observing it’s movements, a light cast toward the top of the pool to hide a potentially bad cast landed the kebari just a bit short. Luckily the turbulence of the water still masked the landing, and the dead drift of the fly continued just under the surface. The fish moved close to the kebari but directed its attention toward something else at the last moment. 

A short pause and a second cast placed the fly in my first intended spot. The kebari rushed down into the pool, and as a subtle pulsing manipulation brought the fly toward the surface, the brook trout darted out and snatched it up!

After a quick few seconds of swimming around the open water, it took to cover in the waterweed, tangling the line in all the whorls. While trying to keep enough tension on the line, I moved around the bank, looking for a way to free up the line without losing my catch. Without knowing exactly how it happened, the line untangled and the fish darted back into the center of the stream. Holding the rod a bit higher up to keep the fish from repeating its dive into the elodea, I pulled it closer and closer, and finally into the net.

The Meadow in the Mountains - Martin Montejano - Tenkara Angler - Brook Trout

The challenges of fishing this stream make the catch worth it. The reward of watching those dark green, red and white spotted brook trout swim away as you lower them back into the water in a region where they’re hard to find is well worth the time and effort one puts in to fishing this creek.

Gear Notes:

– Rod: Nissin Royal Stage 320 7:3
– Line: Nissin Oni 3.0 level line, Rio Suppleflex 5x Tippet
– Fly: “Wine & Dine” kebari size 16


Martin Montejano is a Northern California based tenkara angler sharing his adventures and experiences through @sagehearttenkara on Instagram.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2021-22 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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