dimanche 21 juin 2015

Last day on Chéran stream

After a good night of sleep on the banks of the stream we did wake up at sunrise and took out time for a delicious breakfast. The weather promised to be good for fishing like it was the day before. It was the last day of my tenkara road trip so I wanted to enjoy every moment to the fullest. 

We decided to go fishing downstream from the spot where we did stay by night is quite famous among local fly anglers. I do not know if this is a good place for fly fishers as the couple of them who we saw last evening were not really smiling when they left the stream. 

We prospected the stream with a dry fly, results did not come immediately. It was very early in the morning and we had to wait for the temperature to rise to catch the first trouts. Our gear was very simple: an Oni type 2 and a Nissin Kawasahi 390 as rods, a 5 and a 10 meters Fujino tapered lines. 

After two hours of fishing in a wide part of the stream we arrived at a narrow spool and as soon as I saw this spot I said to myself: "full of trouts!". Christophe fished this pool on dry fly and did not catch anything and I was joining him upstream we just saw a trout rising to the surface in the shadow of a tree.
"Did you see it?"
"Of course I did! Can I try something?"
"Please yourself"
Christophe gave me the Kawashi rod, I did cut the tippet and put the dry fly back in my kebari box. I knotted on the tippet an old wet fly pattern of mine that I have been fishing with for at least two decades. I did cast it and as it was drifting to the calm part of the pool a trout did bite. The strike was brutal. These mountain trouts are not huge but they are very good partners for tenkara anglers, hungry and angry.

There was probably a nice school of trouts in this pool because each drift of the wet fly brought back one. Each of them did strike brutally and proved to be a pretty fighter. 

After my share of trouts I did give the rod to my friend and even if he is not used to fish on wet patterns he did catch his first trout quite fast.

He is a good angler and watching me do was enough for him to understand the basics of wet fly tenkara.  He caught beautiful trouts like I had a few minutes ago. 

After the fuss we had done in this pool we decided to go fishing upstream where without a doubt more trouts were eager to bite our fly. This morning of tenkara was a pure moment of joy with a lot of trouts, we did not know how many of them were fooled by our patterns during this tenkara trip and we did not care. My tenkara road trip was close to its end and I was totally satisfied by the experience lived at the Tenkara Fest and then with Christophe who I can sincerely call a friend. 

After a seven hours drive I was back home. I think that I will do other tenkara road trips in the future because it is a rewarding experience not only to discover unknown streams but mainly to meet sincere and passionate tenkara anglers.  

vendredi 19 juin 2015

Tenkara on the Haut-Chéran stream

After driving through another village we took a very small mountain road and after a few miles of winding road we did park nearby the stream where we were going to do what we like most: fishing.
We were parked just after a bridge over a beautiful torrent: the Haut-Chéran.
We were gifted with very good weather conditions: temperature was around 64°F, the sky was slightly overcast and there was almost no wind. This tenkara day was beginning under very favorable omens.
Christophe told me that he wanted to try his chance downstream the bridge as he had spotted several trouts during a prior outing in the area so I let him take the lead.

The first trout of the afternoon was caught rapidly. I was surprised by its grey skin, beautiful and really uncommon for someone who is not used to fish in this kind of stream.

This trout released properly we approached to the bridge as discreetly as possible and we had the confirmation that there were two nice sized trouts under this bridge but they were very fast to rush to the fly and go back to their shelter. Christophe did make only one try for each of them and collapsed down the Oni rod as for the next part of this stream we would need a shorter rod. 

This bridge physically marks the passage to the wild part of this stream, much narrower and running between heavily forested banks. The both of us having passed under the bridge we took a last look at the spot from where the trouts had arisen. They were probably hungry but still not enough to spend a moment in a landing net!

I rigged a NISSIN Royal Airstage 320 rod with a short monofilament line, a two feet nylon tippet and my dry fly while Christophe was observing the stream before taking action...

My "Hi-vis" dry fly combined with Christophe's talent did give very positive results immediately...

We fished in tandem with one rod so we fished in turn, we were not competing and it would have been a nonsense to fish spots already fished a few minutes before. As my friend, who knows this gin clear stream stone by stone stated: "One spot, one chance". 

I did my best to do what I had learned in the morning on the Nant des Vaches:  landing my fly precisely and being concentrated enough for efficient hook setting. I think that the lesson was learned because I did fish the whole afternoon without missing any fish. I even was lucky enough to catch a very nice sized trout for this stream that had the particularity to have exactly the same yellow skin pattern than the native trouts of Normandy. 

The Chéran was generous with us all along this tenkara outing and we have caught a lot of trouts. 

Fishing in tandem and in turn is not my habit but the exercise is very interesting when practiced in a good spirit because one can learn a lot only by watching someone else fishing. I sincerely thank my friend Christophe to make me discover the Chéran which is to me the typical mountain stream: shallow fast water with very fast trouts. 

We did realize what time it was only because the temperature was dropping, we had fished the whole afternoon without a break. Absorbed by the stream. It was 8 p.m when we climbed a huge boulder to access a spot from which we could easily reach the trail back to the place where our vehicle was parked at. 

Back at the vehicle we were tired yet blissfully satisfied by a great tenkara session. The fishing gear safely stored in the van we did take the road back towards the bivouac spot called: Sparta. 

A very comfortable Sparta indeed where we had a feast worthy of kings.

After this outstanding feast we did fall asleep only a few meters afar from the place where we were going to fish the next day...

jeudi 18 juin 2015

Le nant des vaches

After I had left Ardèche I did go to Haute-Savoie where I had planned to meet a very good friend of mine who is as passionate about tenkara as I am but I did spend my first day in the area by myself hiking to the Chalets de Sales . The hike up there was wonderful, a bit difficult but the view at the summit is really worth getting tired. I did a peaceful nap on Le Grand Pré before I walked down back to Sixt Fer à Cheval from where I had to drive to my next destination. 

I did take my time when walking back to the valley to really appreciate this gorgeous landscapes, it was still early in the morning and everything was quiet and peaceful. I have known Christophe through social media and phone calls only until now but I was sure that it was going to be a summit meeting as we have always seemed to have common opinions about some of the best things in life: tenkara, wine and women. We did wake up very early to drive to our first destination: the Haut Chéran.After about half an hour of drive Christophe parked his vehicle on the edge of the road and cut the engine. I was a little bit disconcerted, even asking myself if it was not a joke, because the only stream crossing the road was only a tiny trickle. Christophe invited me to rig my Oni type II rod with a short line and a dry fly. With the rod ready for action in hand I did follow my friend approaching the "stream" as discreetly as possible and I did see several small trouts fleeing to the closest shelter! I was approaching the first trout spot where Christophe had already caught a nice sized trout for this water and as I was trying to make my dry fly land on the water a trout jumped out of it to catch the fly! We could not believe what we had just witnessed and burst out laughing like kids. I truly think that this memory will always be in our mind.

After a memorable laughter we did cross the road to try our chance our other spots that were wider than on the other side. If if I was invited to rig my rod with a short (7 feet) line it is because in this kind of trickle my friend is used to delicately land his fly on the water without casting and this for the reason of the power lines above his head. I did miss the first trout because of a really too slow hook setting. I got very concentrated because I knew that trouts were very fast on this kind of water. Once again I made my fly land on a tiny spot and the trout reaction was ultra fast. I have never been a great dry fly fan but I must admit that I was really happy to have fooled this trout on a dry pattern in such an unlikely stream.

I did lend my rod to Christophe but he did not meet success so after trying a few spots he did collapse the rod down. Walking back to the van we did stop at the jumping trout spot. Great memory!

I had passed this friendly challenge and it is with a smile on our faces that we took back the road to our next destination...

dimanche 14 juin 2015

Tenkara on La Beaume stream

I had planned to leave Ardèche area the day after the Tenkara Fest to visit a good friend of mine who lives at a several hours drives away so on sunday I woke up at sunrise and went on the stream flowing nearby the village of Lablachère where I lived during my stay in Ardèche. The closer stream to the house is La Beaume. 
I did hit the stream at about half past seven because like the days before the temperature was going to be around 95°F so I was convinced that it would be hard to find active trouts in such weather conditions. 

The water being gin clear and pretty low I did put my shades before getting the rod ready, I saw a few trouts but all of them were nestled against the stones in the rare shady spots of the stream. This section of the stream is what is considered in France as second category stream which means that the fish population is a mix of salmonids and cyprinids. There were a lot of fishes rising a few yards downstream from me and even I had only fished once in a local stream I guessed that these fishes were the same that I caught two days before. I tied a sedge on my line, a very basic pattern made of CDC dubbing and deer hair. 

The fishing was very simple: cast, catch, release. After many catches my sedge was totally soaked by mucus and I had to wash it and get it dry so I did a break and decided to go a little bit upstream. 

Sitting on a stone I was watching the stream flowing in front of me and I saw that fishes were rising in the mainstream. They were not discreet but fewer than downstream...Trouts? I did see several of them at rest in quiet areas in the outskirts of the mainstream but at nearly 9:00 a.m the temperature was already high, too high for a trout to move on a small bug like my sedge. 

My fishing was pretty simple: I was casting my sedge in the upper part of the mainstream, keeping it on the surface while lifting my rod to have a permanent tension on the line. This was very efficient and the catches were almost systematic. 

Chubs! I was not disappointed because I knew since the start that I had very little chance to find active trouts and an angler must be able to adapt to weather and stream conditions. I have just read an article by an American fly angler stating that his fishing experience is 90% frustration and 10% joy and that is really something I can not understand. If I was feeling the same thing I would without a doubt definitely stop fishing but this will probably never happen to me because I have been fishing since I was a kid and my enthusiasm is still unspoiled. With a several hours drive coming I had to save energy for the rest of the day and decided to stop fishing on this stream. It was very easy to catch the first chubs but it rapidly became more technical. A whole lot of fun. 

Around half past ten I collapsed my rod, spooled back my line and walked back to the hamlet where I lived during my stay in Ardèche. On the path I did come across a group of swimmers which made me think that I had well done to go fishing early. 
La Beaume is a beautiful stream but it probably offers better fishing opportunities earlier in spring and that means that I will go back there...

vendredi 12 juin 2015

Tenkara Fest 2015

Several months ago Eric Robert and I decided after a phone call to organize a tenkara meeting in Ardèche because we thought that if we were doing a good job to promote tenkara with our respective blogs and the french tenkara forum that we have founded but that it would be really cool to meet other tenkara anglers. The french tenkara forum is cool, there is no "expert" and novice, absolutely no elitism from anyone and every one can express his experience and perspective about tenkara. We rapidly chose Ardèche because of the beauty of this area and it happened that the owner of a very famous fishing spot on a mountain plateau agreed to welcome the event on his property. 

The saturday morning I did arrive on the fest site at 8 o'clock after a one hour drive and I was not really surprised to be the first there because during my stay in Ardèche I had rented a house at about 20 miles from Montselgues and other people attending the Tenkara Fest, except Edouard, had to drive from further areas. As the participants arrived we had an interesting conversation about tenkara not only as a fishing technique but also a philosophy because most of us are ex-fly fishermen who are looking for a new perspective about fishing. We are not looking for gurus or experts but we just want to share our experiences. Like the day before the air temperature was high so we decided to start fishing before it was too hot. Eric caught the first fish of the day, a nice brook trout, on a small black wet fly. 

Christian, a tenkara novice with a long fly fishing career, rapidly got his first trout on his Royal Airstage rod that a few minutes before had never got out of its original carton. This was the perfect exemple of what tenkara can bring to experienced fly fishermen: a new perspective in simplicity and efficiency. 

I started fishing with a black wet fly but as the temperature rose fishes became focused on the water surface waiting for insects to fall on the water so I did skip to a black dry fly. Raindows, brownies and brookies were very active and showed great interest for my black bug. 

The Tenkara Fest has also been the opportunity to meet Jérôme Rolland, the sympathetic and talented designer who created my blog logo, and Manu Galiana. This young fly fisher has shown very good technical skills all day long. He is very interested by tenkara and as he has no prejudice about anything different from western fly fishing he can rapidly learn the basics of tenkara. One example of that is "hand-lining": I only had to show him once without saying anything for him to understand what it was and the interest of this netting technique. 

I had not fished on dry flies since several years and I must admit that it was cool to fish this way in these gin clear ponds that gives the possibility to watch fishes coming under your fly to bite it. 

The morning passed quickly, one does not see time passing by when catching a lot of fishes! Around half past noon I did feel that the temperature was really on the rise and as my comrades hunger and thirst led me to go the shaded veranda where we went for lunch.

We had a very interesting conversation about tenkara and the atmosphere of this lunch was very good and truly reflected that we all got along very well. Some of us are more experienced with tenkara but everyone could express his point of view, ask questions and share his feelings about tenkara. If one day you have the opportunity to visit this place you have to taste Mrs. Ayglon traditional dishes which are delicious.  

After the lunch Manu and I did a fly tying demo. I needed to tie more dry flies as the only one I had used the morning was in very bad condition after the big number of fishes that had bitten it. As usual I focused on general aspect instead of super small details and the afternoon fishing session will show that I was right because I caught even more fishes than in the morning.

Manu tied his fetish stillwater pattern called "tchernobyl grasshopper". 

We started fishing back around three in the afternoon, it was very hot but hopefully the wind was blowing an d it made the heat a bit easier to stand. Without the wind I think that fishes would have stayed in the depths where the water is colder than under the surface.

Each of us caught a lot of fishes during the afternoon and I must say that I was a little bit surprised by the strength of most of them, especially brookies.

At about half past six we stopped fishing as some of us has several hours drive to get back home. We had good times drinking an ice cold beer before saying goodbye to each other and we all agreed about one fact: there is going to be other editions of the Tenkara Fest.

I did leave this beautiful place with the feeling of having spent a very good day with other tenkara fans and that was the best reward Eric and I could get for our organization and webmastering job that we did a few months ago. There are going to be other editions of the Tenkara Fest and I hope that we will succeed in keeping the very good atmosphere we had this saturday because that is what the people want: having fun fishing with cool people. No one in the tenkara scene needs boring fake experts or dead serious assholes. Organizing this event was a great experience for me and I am sure that I want to do even more for tenkara in my country. 

jeudi 11 juin 2015

Discovering the Drobie stream

The day before attending the Tenkara Fest my friend Edouard and I had planned to discover the Drobie stream which is a tributary of the Beaume stream that originates in Montselgues, at the south East of the Parc National des Monts d'Ardèche.
We did meet in the village of Joyeuse where we did buy local traditional food and then we had to drive on a small mountain road towards the village of Sainte Melany where Edouard knows a beautiful stretch of the Drobie stream that he wanted to share with me. 

We did arrive on the stream at 8:30 a.m and it was already pretty hot. I did not know this stream at all before going there and I was fascinated by the sheer beauty of this landscape. I was sure that fishing was not going to be easy because of air and water temperature but at least I was gifted to spend a day in such a beautiful place.

While we were walking down to the stream we were analyzing the stream to spot trouts that we could try to catch. I did catch the first one after about five minutes in a very tight raw of water. It was a small trout but I was happy because it was my first Mediterranean Trout that I ever have got in my tamo.

Edouard was fishing a few meters upstream and had already caught several "sofies" that were very active on food, rushing to anything falling on the water surface. These small fishes were taking advantage from the fact that trouts were not active on food and as I have observed many times in my streams of Normandy the intense activity of small cyprinids in a trout streams means that the local trouts are going to be very hard to get interested by a fly. The goal of this tenkara outing was not anyway to catch a lot of fishes but to go fishing with a friend. We had never met yet and only shared our passion for tenkara through the internet. We did fish upstream, trying our chance on every spot but all the trouts we were targeting only rushed to our flies without biting. Edouard was fishing with a black dry fly and I was using a grey wet fly. A lot of small trouts did rush to my kebari but I was not fast enough on hook setting when one of them did bite it. It was nearly noon and it was really hot. 

We were hungry and decided ti fish downstream back to the place where we had parked our cars and did catch lots of "sofies". As we saw in gin clear deep pools these "small" fishes can reach nice sizes but the bigger specimen do not mix with the mass of small individuals that rush to any bug falling in the water.

We took a long lunch break in the shades of trees while discussing about fishing and of course especially tenkara and we realized that we had many common viewpoints and analysis about many aspects this fishing technique. Refreshed by this break we decided to go fishing down in the valley even though we agreed to say that we had very little chance to catch any trout in the afternoon. It was about 3 o'clock p.m and the temperature was 95 F°!
I still had my grey kebari tied to my tippet but I did not catch any trout but lots of sofies did see the stream from above...

To catch these small fishes one needs good quality fly drifts and when the wind stuffed in the valley at about five p.m it became very hard to control our lines and we did not catch fish at all. Line control is really the key to success for tenkara anglers. 

Overwhelmed by the heat and convinced that we had very little chance to catch anything more Edouard and I decided to stop fishing and go back to the place where we had parked our cars. We were not disappointed as we knew since the start that this tenkara outing would be hard because of the hot weather. We just wanted to spend a nice day before the Tenkara Fest. 

Back at the parking lot we did take a wise decision: driving to the next village and drink some ice cold beer in a pub. I have spent a good day with a friend who thinks like me that a good fishing outing is all about fun and challenge. I had the opportunity to discover a stream I had never heard about a few days ago and I have to thank Edouard for sharing with me a gorgeous place.