Fishing in Bathtubs

OK, not really fishing in a bathtub but fishing bathtub sized pools in rivers.  After taking up Tenkara this year I began searching out smaller waters and smaller sections of bigger waters looking for trout and have been pleasantly surprised by what I have found.

Today was a great example.  I was on the Middle Fork and the really nice corner run I wanted to fish was just so windy that I couldn’t control my line well with the wind blowing straight upstream on me.  I managed a few fish but was getting frustrated so I moved downstream to check out the next spot where a long riffle ended and dropped into a pool.  What I found was that the riffle did drop well but on my side the current was pushing into the bank and got deep fast so I really needed to fish from the other side to fish it well but didn’t want to cross into someones back yard to fish.  Looking at the shore from where I was in the riffle I found a spot about the size of a bathtub that had some good rocks and depth, I figured there was probably one fish there.  A few casts and I had a grab but missed.  Next cast another grab and I was into what turned out to be my biggest Middle Fork cutthroat of the year so far, a nice 14″ fish.  I sort of figured he was king of the little pool but made a few more casts.  Wham, another grab and another nice 11-12″ cutt to hand.   A few more casts, wham, another fish.  What the heck.  By the time I was done I had landed four, lost two and missed another two in this little run.

Spots where I got fish in this small 'pool'
Spots where I got fish in this small ‘pool’

Why was I surprised, I’ve seen this before, like yesterday.  My favorite little run on the Cedar River is a place I just call ‘the sticks’.   It is a bathtub sized piece of slightly deeper water with some downed trees that is at the end of a side riffle.  The main channel is on the other side and this is between a fast steep section and a bunch of shallow riffles, doesn’t look like much.  Yet it holds fish, usually several fish, and often one big fish.   I always get a fish out of this little pool, usually 3-4.  I’ve landed my largest tenkara trout to date, a 16″ fish, out of the top of this little bathtub in the circle farthest to the right below.

'The Sticks' and where I've caught fish here
‘The Sticks’ and where I’ve caught fish here

Even yesterday with the water low I knew there had to be a fish in there and after hitting it I finally got him to rise in the second circle from the right, a nice 14″ fish and the best of the day.

With a tenkara rod I feel I can fish these small runs so much better than with a standard fly rod.  There isn’t much of a cast to make since these pools are small.  I usually am using an 11-12′ rod and 10.5′ line and 3-4′ of leader.  It is easier to cast the 10-14′ with tenkara than trying to load a standard trout rod since you usually have 7.5-9′ of leader and only 3-6′ of actual line and that is the front taper.  Also with the tenkara rod I can get a perfect drift on the fly, I can twitch it around on the surface, I can swing it around at the bottom of a drift and I can easily retrieve it back upstream.  I get fish on all these types of presentations in these small areas of river.

The other place tenkara really rocks is eddies behind, well, big rocks.   On a section of the Tolt I fish there is a huge boulder, about 5-6′ across and it has a bathtub sized eddy swirling in back of it and heavy current on each side.  With the tenkara rod I can keep all my line off the water and cast a fly to the far end of the eddy and let it naturally swirl up to the rock and back down the other side.  It rarely makes it that far, this bathtub sized eddy has produced more than a dozen trout before I moved on to the next boulder upstream.   I just doubt that with my 6′ 3-weight bamboo or my 7.5′ 4-weight that I could keep the fly moving naturally around the eddy since I’d never be able to keep my line and leader all off the water with that short a rod, with an 11-12′ rod and 10.5′ line though it is easy.

I’ve felt all year that I’ve caught more trout this season than any season in the past.  Is it the nearly perfect summer we are having, maybe.  Is it changing to tenkara – I think so.  Once I got the hang of it I just feel I have much more control over the presentation of the fly and that is leading me to catching more fish on each outing than ever before and I’m getting fish out of places which could not be fished so easily with a standard fly rod.

This post originally appeared in Fishing in Bathtubs on my personal blog.