My Trout Season Without a Reel

noreelThis year when I decided to take up tenkara I quickly made the decision to give up my western rods and reels for the trout season.  For saltwater and steelhead my switch rod and reel were fine but for trout the year had to be reel-less.   Trout season  rapidly came to an end here in the Pacific Northwest with unusually heavy late September rains but it was an amazing one to say the least.  We had the best summer I’ve seen in 23 years living in the Seattle area and fishing was small streams in the Cascades was off the charts from early June until a few days ago at the end of September.   Granted the season isn’t all the way over and I may eek a few days in on the Yakima at this point but will be focusing on steelhead and moving back into saltwater now that the rivers are either closed or rising from the rains.

This season I logged 25 days on the South Fork, 12 days on the Cedar, 10 on the Middle Fork, 3 on the Tolt, 3 on the Raging and 10 days on other small rivers and lakes.    This made for 63 days trout fishing of the year during the main season using tenkara, the most days I’ve spent trout fishing in a very long time.

So, did I miss a reel?  Not at all.  In fact, I found tenkara to be more effective than western fly fishing, I never got skunked a single day since June 1st when the season really opened up.  I fished within 20 miles of home almost all of the time except when in the Methow on our family vacation.  I was able to catch more trout than previous years when I used a western rod and flies.   I was able to catch trout just as large using tenkara, quite a few 14-17″ fish, a few over 18″ with the largest being a 22″ brown trout.   I seemed to catch larger fish in places like the Middle Fork than ever before when I used western gear.   On the simplification front I did it all on only three flies, and, for the most part used two kebari – the GRHE Sakasa Kebari and the Adams Ishigaki Kebari – 98% of the time.

To top it off, I had more fun fishing tenkara this year than I’ve had fly fishing since I discovered bonefish.   I had definitely grown a bit bored with trout fishing and began spending more and more time in saltwater and steelheading over the last decade.   Sure, I typically got to the Yakima a few times and fished the forks a few times each year but I had increased my time in salt to about 60-70% of my fishing time as my trout fishing days dropped down to about a few dozen days a year and much of that was done while on hiking trips.    This year I was having so much fun with tenkara that I bypassed the saltwater all summer long and focused on the small streams close to home, exploring new water and catching trout on tenkara pretty much everywhere I went.

2 thoughts on “My Trout Season Without a Reel

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