Late December 2012 Fishing Trip Down at Wolf Creek Dam.

My fishing buddy, John Hiett, and I headed down to Lake Cumberland State Park in Kentucky Saturday night. We didn’t let the snowy weather or the cold temperatures stop us (the temperatures ranged from 23F-36F, or -5C-2.22C). That night we stayed at the lodge, which is a nice break from the normal ‘sleep in the van or tent.’  The lodge is about 50 years old, and interestingly enough, my father had a hand in designing part of it.
Lake-Cumberland-State-Resort-Park-52  A view of the lobby

Sunday morning we rose early and had your typically southern breakfast, biscuits, gravy, sausage, eggs, juice and coffee.  We then loaded then van and headed for the trout run.  On the way there we saw deer and and wild turkey.

Wild Turkey Turkey

Trout Run at Wolf Creek Hatchery The Trout Run

Since we are living in the future, there’s a web cam there for all to watch.  (you’ll probably have to cut and paste)

John and I immediately rigged the rods with droppers.  Any old dry fly on top that was white, and a copper john (red) about a size 16-18.  John right away caught the fattest one of the day, a fat triploid male rainbow over 1 1/2 lbs.

IMG_4444 John with his Fat Triploid

After we both caught a few on nymphs, surprise surprise, the damn trout started to actually rise!  36F and there were very small, very small, bugs on the water.  I tied on a 26 gnat and couldn’t believe it when they actually started going after the fly.

Me with the Dry Fly on Me with a Dry Fly on

Now this place is a ‘put and take,’ and in the end john and I caught probably 25 all together and kept 15, for a total of 8.5 lbs.  The big adrenaline rush for me though was a hog I hooked that weighed 4lbs+.  I managed to get it to the shore, and as soon as John went t net it the beast took off and snapped the line.  Figures.

DSC01639 a Mess O Fish

We had to end the day early since it was a three hour drive back, and I promised the daughter I’d read her to sleep.  All in all a great trip.

Tenkara Fly Rods

In March of 2010 I was shopping for a pack rod and came across this funny looking fly rod that said it was fished without a reel.   For the lay person, the term Tenkara fly fishing (japanese = テンカラ, literally: “from heaven”, or “from the skies”) is a traditional type of fly fishing practiced in Japan for about the last 200 years.  The rods are primarily used for mountain stream trout fishing, and are super light, compact, are easy to carry when hiking, and easy to travel with - just throw it in the carry-on luggage. Think of the rod as a move towards the Zen of fly fishing. The minimal amount of gear to fly fish with, and a minimal amount of action while casting.

Tenkara has been virtually unknown outside of Japan until the first company to introduce and popularize tenkara outside of Japan, Tenkara USA, was founded in April 2009 in San Francisco, California, by Daniel Galhardo.

After some research I decided on the 12′ Iwana rod.  It has a 6:4 action and is perfect for small mountian streams. The stats are as follows.

Closed size: 20 1/2 inches (52cm) including 1/2″ cap  (the case is close to 23″)
Segments: 9
Handle length: 11 inches (23cm)
Weight:2.7oz (76.5grams)

The rod arrived in a nicely designed aluminum case.  Inside is a well sewn tie sock.  I was surprised by the lightness and beautiful attention to detail when I slid the rod out of the sock.  The rod came with the line and a few flies.  To rig up the line is a breeze, you just loop one end over the red attached line provided on the rod, and slide your looped knot down to the knot on the end.

Casting is a bit weird at first since there’s no line to load.  But once you get the hang of it I’d say it’s similar to casting my 4 weight rods.  I’ve attached a few shots of me in action, and you can see the bend of the rod through the cast.  The biggest kick I got from using the rod was when I was climbing over boulders and scrambling through the dense under brush.  You just have to telescope the rod closed, and then slide it open when ready to fish again.

A final note. I’ve broken the tip section twice now (just doing your normal stupid things-don’t ask). Compared to any other rod company, where you have to ship the rod in and pay quite a bit to have a new section built, the Tenkara USA company has a replacement parts section on their website where you buy the replacement tips for $7 + shipping and then repair it yourself. They have a video that shows you how to unscrew the bottom and in less then a minute the rod was repaired. I had to replace a tip on a 4 weight Winston rod this summer, $50 for shipping and handling and $185 for the new tip. For that price I can buy about 19 new tips for my Tenkara rod. At the rate I’m going I’ll have done that within 5 years.

Bottom Line — buy one of these rods and carry it at all times.




What to do when you haven’t been fishing in awhile.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  It being the end of the semester, all the committees I’m on or chair, that and having an only child that is 6, I wonder how anyone finds time to write a blog.  Well now I’m sick in bed, (you try being around all those petri dishes called kids and students and not get sick once and awhile) and I have free time to type away.

Babcock cabin.

Since I haven’t had any time to fish lately I thought I’d write a bit about a past trip.  This trip took place two summers past, and took place at Babcock State Park in West Virginia.  I planned to meet my buddy John Heitt, who was driving over from Kentucky.  I arrived first and drove down to the cabin we’d reserved.  The cabins were built as part of Roosevelt’s work program administration (WPA) and are the old style log cabins.  Inside you walk directly into the main living space, which has a large river stone fireplace, two old falling apart rocking chairs, a dining table, and a queen size bed.  Off to one side there’s a small kitchen, a small bedroom, and a bath with shower.  Upon opening the door all the mice scampered for cover.  When I say all, I’m talking possibly 3 digits worth. “Make note to self, hang everything from ceiling.”

It ain’t even big enough to eat!

All in Bloom

John was still about an hour out so I decided to hike down to the stream below the cabin.  No easy feat since it’s a deep gorge.  I scouted around and came across a few paths.  Headed down through the rhododendron, which were still in bloom in July, and careful not to slip and slid, I made it to the bottom in one piece after about 15 minutes.  I visually marked the spot at the river with an arrow shaped from a bunch of stones.  When you grow up hiking in the Appalachian Mountains you know how easy it is to get turned around and lost in all the thick growth.

Whooper of a fish.

Stream with boulders.

The stream was perfect, although tight.  I started fishing hole-to-hole and headed down stream.  The trick to this type of stream fishing is to cast to the spots under the large boulders.  After about 30 minutes I hooked a whopper of a minnow.  My task completed I started back for the spot I had marked.  Once I found the marked spot I moved to the so-called path and began the trek uphill, using the rhododendron to pull myself up.  About half way up I ran into the first ‘was it the left or the right path?’  At the toss of a mental coin I went for the left path.  After 15 minutes I figured I took the wrong turn, but not to worry, I was still headed up hill.  This had to run into the access road sooner or later.  Finally after 30 minutes of climbing I made it back to the cabin and found John unpacking.  John drives a van, which is always fully equipped to camp out for about a month.  No kidding, the man has everything in there.

Once we were both settled in we drove over to the small lake connected to the park, rented a boat and stated catching fish.

Like Glass!

Me fishing the hole.

As the day wore on we figured it was time to hit the stream and fish for trout.  There’s a pool that is directly below the main administration building, which originally was designed to be a swimming hole.  It was now silted up but perfect for fly-fishing.  On the first cast to the far side of the pool I caught a beauty of a brown.  After about a total of four keepers between us we drove back to the cabin and had a great trout dinner, and then off to bed.  That night it rained cats and dogs and the next morning we discovered the streams completely blown out.  For the rest of the trip was looking at beautiful scenery, since neither one of us caught a thing.