I usually have to drive far distances to fish for trout. Six to eight hours in the car, one way, it’s a long grind for what might end up being a day or two of fishing. Upon arriving at my destination, it’s not uncommon to want to cram as much fishing as possible into that short window of sweet, coldwater exposure. Rising early, and staying out late make for long days of focused angling, perhaps stopping only momentarily along the way to choke down a Clif bar or swig a drink from the water filter.
This year’s TenkaraCamp in North Carolina was a recent example of this condensed fishing experience. Sixteen combined hours in the car for essentially one day of fishing and a bit of evening camaraderie. It was a wonderful experience, meeting several new people and reconnecting with old acquaintances, however I didn’t really stop to smell the figurative (or literal) flowers.
Fast forward two weeks, I had the opportunity to return to the very same campground, but this time to spend some extended time with a fishing buddy from back up north. It’s probably been ten years since I’ve fished with him, so it was nice to reacquaint myself with my favorite spinner & spoon fisher. He is definitely not a tenkara angler, nor does he have the desire to become one, and that’s just fine with me.
A lot can happen in ten years. Reunited, I found my good friend slowed by time. Age and a surgery had taken a noticeable toll. No longer was he the angler that would hop from boulder to boulder in a steep cascading mountain stream. Instead, he opted for short bursts of action, mostly concentrating on easy access alongside a bridge or trail. But it was impossible to not notice that his passion for chasing trout was as strong as ever, and once engaged, he was casting beautifully and fishing aggressively, dropping his inline spinner repeatedly into those tight, fishy spaces that claim many the fly or lure of the less skilled and experienced.
As such, we didn’t climb any steep trails, descend into deep hollows, scale any waterfalls, or bushwhack through rhododendron thickets. We took it slow. Fished at a relaxed pace. Happily said “hello” to passersby. Stopped for snacks. Did a lot of talking. And took in all of the little things I’m ashamed to say that I usually overlook. Including simply sitting on a rock or log to just watch my friend fish. One of the best anglers I’ve ever met.
Once we reduced the pace I found that the flowers were in a radiant bloom, colorful butterflies were congregating from all over, the waterfalls were roaring, cascading toward the pools below, and the evening weather was crisp and wonderfully cool. Even though I probably fished less over those three and a half days than I usually do in one, it was one of the best fishing trips I’ve been on in a while. And slowing down made all the difference.
But don’t misunderstand, more than a few fish were caught too…
Do you have a story to tell? A photo to share? A fly recipe that’s too good to keep secret? If you would like to contribute content to Tenkara Angler, click HERE for more details.