Tenkara Rod Company.
I am a Wyoming “Road Scholar”. I have driven every major and minor highway, cracked two laners, and purple sage brush lined dirt roads that lead to no where. I have fished almost every pot hole, stream, and lake in the Cowboy State. This is not braggadocio, just setting the record straight to show that I was born in the wrong era.
As a wilderness ranger in the Wind River Range SE of Jackson Hole I had plenty of free time in the high country to fly fish for the prehistoric grayling, and the beautiful California golden trout. I once had breakfast trailside with Finis Mitchell and his wife; in the 1930s he horse-milk containers of golden trout to stock the high plateau lakes for his fish camp. The problem with fly fishing narrow and twisty streams in Wyoming is that they are overgrown with thick clumps of red willow, Russian olives, and cottonwoods . . . hence fly-fishing is often an arduous ordeal — I spent more time untangling lines in the weeds and branches. than fishing.
Enjoying the Tenkara Rod and Reel.
No major new inventions of the wheel, or I should say, “REEL”, have been made since the first cane pole was strapped to a rotor mechanism. Tenkara Rod Company has changed the game of fly fishing with their innovative line of rods and reels. The Driggs, Idaho based company must have had shallow and winding streams in mind when they produced their rods that look more like spears because of the taper. The telescoping rods slide down to a compact package fit for hiking into the farthest mountain trout hole. The reel is an easy to use walnut spool that is really not a reel at all. The package comes with three hand-tied flies, tippet ring, and a carbon fiber case with a velvet sleeve.
The company has several models to choose from, but I especially liked the Cascades, which was developed for kids, but it is the shortest in the line at 8 feet fully extended. I can flip fly poppers or dry or wet flies, or grasshoppers beneath the weeping willows, and in fact, all segments don’t have to extend to make it easier to fish the mountain streams.
Get a Tenkara Rod and Reel Package.
The Teton rod is 12 feet long, better for bigger rivers like the Wind River or Snake River. The swivel tips on all Tenkara Rods keeps the line from tangling. There are nine segments to the rod, which closes down to 20 inches, fitting into the carryon luggage. The Sawtooth rod is named after an Idaho mountain range, and is has plenty of flex to it; that six inch trout feels like a whopper, but lunkers can be caught with this rod, too. It also has nine segments, closing to 20 inches. The Owyhee rod is named after a great southern Idaho river known for its isolated rafting adventures. The Owyhee is Tenkara’s biggest rod at 13 feet, great for larger streams. It has nine segments, with an 11 inch grip, closing down to 21.5 inches. All the Tenkara rods have colorful designs. The Owyhee is the heaviest rod at around 5 ounces, but it is long barreled for throwing a line far out into the rapids.
Watch videos about the Tenkara Rods at www.TenkaraRodCo.com
Mountain Press Publishing.
It must have been a grand time in the Wyoming Rockies during the fur trade, which only lasted from 1806-1843. The first trappers were members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, such as Jim Bridger and John Colter, who returned west after the Corps of Discovery expedition ended Trappers came along later, like Joseph Meek, who worked for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and others, like the famous guide, Kit Carson. There were so many beavers in the streams of the Rockies but the men were so successful they nearly trapped the rodents to extinction. Luckily for the beaver the fashion of pelt hats went out of style.
If you want to relive this exciting slice of history in a first hand account, then get a copy of Joseph Meek’s “The River Of The West,” from Mountain Press Publishing (http://mountain-press.com). Joe came into the Wyoming Rockies in about 1828 when a trapper could make thousands of dollars in a winter season. Joe lived among the Arikara, Utes, Sioux, Nez Perce, and married a Shoshone squaw. Relive an adventure few have ever experienced and none will ever encounter again. Chased by grizzlies and the Blackfoot Indians, Joe seemed to always survive to make it to the summer Green River Rendezvous in the Wind River range. They gathered for whisky, tall tales, restocking accoutrements, and meeting up with old friends. This year’s Green River Rendezvous is from July 9-12h in Pinedale, Wyoming, one of the gateways to the road-less Winds. Opening photo is of Square Top Mountain near the original Rendezvous.
Pack your horse and Tenkara Rod and visit http://www.pinedaleonline.com/RendezvousDays.HTM
Mountain Press Publishing is at the forefront of historic mountain west lore. I purloined a copy of “Wild Berries of the West”, which is plastered with photos of berries I never heard of. When I was a kid we picked chokecherries in the fall and ground the juice out from the pits in a colander. I received a helpful tip in this book: grind the berries, pits and all, through a coffee grinder. The pits add a slight almond nutty taste . . . no more arm breaking juicing.
Another great book from Mountain Press is “Foraging The Mountain West”. Ever eat burdock? Me neither, I only plucked the sunflower seed sized burrs from my cloths when crawling along a stream seeking trout in a cool pool. Nature’s Velcro. When the brookies aren’t biting I will forage for Mountain Lettuce, or lesser known as Brook Saxifrage. There are plenty of tips on cooking and drying, descriptions, habitat and range, and much more about the plant life in this region. . I carry both these books in my saddle bag or fishing creel.
As a wrangler in the Bighorn Mountains near Sheridan, Wyoming, I harnessed the basic packing knots, most notably the diamond hitch. Mountain Press published “Packin’ In on Mules and Horses”. Pack animals, including llamas, are allowed into wilderness areas like the Big Horns and the Wind Rivers. I am certain Joe Meek knew a thing or two about knots. As a ranger in the Winds I came across an old trappers shack, built basically of rocks piled up between a stand of pine trees with a small chimney used for warmth. Men were short back thing, but only in stature. I am having second thoughts about reliving those days. When I was a kid one of the last trappers in the Black Hills lived in a red tar paper shack in a grove of cottonwoods. Jess Tucker was a throwback to Joe Meeks. Jess taught me how to stretch and tan hides, create a pack saddle from leather, and intricate packing knots, but this book covers aspects of wrangling I have never seen practiced. It is a treasure trove of new/old knowledge.
Conservationists are reintroducing the beaver to the valleys of the Rockies. Their dams provide flood control, drought habitat, and the return of plants and animals. And with my new Tenkara Cascades rod I can fly fish with poppers in the calm beaver ponds from my kayak.
As water temperatures warm, panfish and bass move into to the shallows of lakes and ponds seeking food falling from the trees. If you are looking for a new way to spice up your fishing, try fly fishing with a popper. Poppers come in many shapes and sizes and mimic mice, frogs, small snakes, or insects. Casting a popper takes a bit of practice to get just right. Delivering your popper under overhanging trees or along emerging aquatic vegetation will provide non-stop action. So this summer, add to your fishing skill set by fly fishing with poppers and enjoy a whole new way to fish.
Yellow Perch Summer Cocktails
One of my favorite fish is the yellow perch which is mostly a foothills lake fish. Here is a recipe for a perch cocktail.
Yellow perch are a very tasty fish, as their flesh has a nice firm texture. When you are fortunate to catch a few jumbo perch, give this recipe a try (poor man’s shrimp).
1. Fillet the perch, remove the skin, and cut the meat into several 3/4″ strips
2. Boil 1 quart of water with a touch of Old Bay seasoning
3. Drop the perch strips into the boiling water and cook a few minutes until the meat turns opaque.
4. Immediately remove and place in ice water.
5. After a few minutes, remove and cool for 1-hour or until the meat becomes firm.
6. Serve with cocktail sauce on a bed of Brook Saxifrage you foraged while fishing, and enjoy!