About a year ago, I was talking to someone from the New Hampshire Chronicle television show about the possibility of doing a segment on tenkara fly fishing. The person I spoke to seemed open to the idea and said they would pass it on to the producers of the show. Well, a year passed without any word so I kind of gave up on the idea. Then out of the blue I received an email from TV anchor/Chronicle producer Karen Meyers asking if I would like to do the segment and could I be available next week. They had an opening in their schedule for next Thursday. The timing was perfect as we had just released our newest tenkara rod, the Ranger. The Ranger is our answer customers’ request for a smaller rod for fly fishing the back country.
I cleared my schedule for Thursday and happily accepted. Luckily, I had already planned to fish in the White Mountains the weekend before. I could use this trip to scout locations that would be easy to film and would hopefully produce good results. Nobody wants to watch a show about fishing where they do not catch fish. Karen wanted to know our location, so I gave her a few places I had in mind but told her I would scout them first.
It is a good thing I had a chance to scout first, because my first choice was less than ideal this season. It was wide open and would be good for casting and filming, but the water levels were well below normal. I spent a couple hours there, only to be disappointed. I moved on to my second choice and the results were similar. So, I decided to visit North Country Angler and talk to Steve Angers to see if he had any good suggestions. Steve has always given me good fishing reports on the area, and I always rely on him when I am struggling or just looking for something new.
So, I left North Country Angler with advice to head further north, where the water levels were higher and the temperatures cooler. I went to a spot north of Franconia Notch that looked very promising. The conditions were great, and the access was relatively easy. I had to keep in mind that we would have a cameraman with a full-size news camera following us, so I wanted to avoid any difficult terrain.
On the scouting trip was my friend Tyler, who was learning to fish tenkara. This was his second trip so it was good to get his perspective as I would be teaching Karen when we filmed. We fished the rest of the day on this river and found several great spots for brook trout that would also be accessible for filming. We finished out the day catching several decent size brook trout and agreed this would be a great location for our New Hampshire Chronicle story.
Now that the pressure was off, Tyler and I went back to the campground to set up camp. After that we got in the truck and headed out to get some food supplies. Driving down US Rt 302 we came across Rek-Lis brewing and stopped in for a beer. The parking lot was almost full so we knew it would be worth it. Rek-Lis has really got it all figured out. They have a nice indoor dining room, a well landscaped patio outside, a cool deck, live music, and a field for cornhole matches. Oh yeah, and they have great beer and a friendly staff. Check them out if you are in the area.
The next day Tyler had to leave early and was only able to fish the morning. I fished out the rest of the day solo and revisited the location for the Chronicle story. I got back to the camp and checked the weather for the following day. The report said, “pouring rain all day”. So, I decided to pack up that night and head home, because no one likes packing up camping gear in the pouring rain.
On Monday, I told Karen about the new location, and we confirmed our meeting point for Thursday. I was so excited, to think that I was going to be able to show the Chronicle audience how much fun you can have with tenkara. My wife and I watch the show all the time and I never thought I would be on an episode. Of course, this also led to a spike in my anxiety. Most of you do not know this but one of the reasons I love to fish tenkara in remote locations is because it does wonders for my mental health. It is like a natural therapy.
Wednesday night I packed up all my tenkara gear and checked it over several times. I did not want to forget anything, and I wanted to be prepared for everything. Thursday morning, I left the house early in the morning because I had a 2- and 1/2-hour drive to the location. I arrived at the dirt road and saw construction vehicles, grading the dirt/gravel road. I immediately thought the worst but felt better when they waved me past them.
I drove up the road, crossing several single lane bridges and parked across from the scouted site. I was early so I got my gear together and went down to the water. I walked up and down stream looking for brook trout in all the various pools. I found several holding but they were in different pools than the last trip. About 20 minutes later I heard someone coming my way, asking if I was Bill from Red Brook Tenkara.
It was Joel, the cameraman from New Hampshire Chronicle. Joel was a chill guy and calmed my nervous excitement after talking to him. He said he was an avid hiker and was psyched to get this assignment. I was no longer worried about a cameraman having trouble getting around. Joel set me up with a mic and told me to just start fishing like I normally would, and that Karen would be here soon.
I fished the first pool and quickly landed a nice brook trout. This took a lot of pressure off me, and I relaxed some more. A few minutes later Karen arrived. She had been trying to call us from the beginning of the road but could not get a signal. I am glad I sent her a picture of the location so she could find it.
It was pretty cool to meet someone who you have seen on television on a regular basis. Karen explained how the filming would go and to just relax and be myself. She asked a bunch of general questions about tenkara but saved the detail for our stream side interview.
I explained to Karen and Joel that I put a Ghostech strike indicator on the line that would help us catch brook trout and help the camera follow the line as it moved down stream. In the beginning they just filmed me fishing as I explained the gear and methods. I had limited room to cast in the location and did a lot of tight overhand casts as well as some bow and arrow casts.
I was able to catch several brook trout on a few different fly patterns, mostly nymphs. After catching a few on dead drifts in the main current I switched to a pulsing action, coming at the trout from the side. This produced a few more brookies from the same pool.
Next, Karen and Joel picked a place to do our interview. They wanted the best lighting as well as a good background. I think they found it. Karen said to ignore the camera and just have a conversation with her. I was a little nervous and was afraid I would stumble but she put me at ease. The interview went better than I expected, and I hope people like it, time will tell.
After the interview we moved back down stream and I showed Karen how to fish tenkara. She was a good student and was drifting a fly in the right spots in no time. She had several strikes but did not set the hook in time. The brook trout in these waters are very fast and will reject a fly in the blink of an eye. I could tell that she was excited by the strikes and determined to catch a brook trout. A few more casts and Karen set the hook quickly. Fish on! I jumped down with the net and she landed her first brook trout. I get super excited when teaching someone and see their reaction when they catch their first brook trout on a tenkara rod and high fived her.
We fished a while longer and talked about how cool it is that we were in this beautiful scene and had not seen another person all day. The whole day, Joel was climbing all over the place with his camera and GoPro but I barely noticed he was there. I want to thank him for doing his part to make it a great day.
A special thank you to Karen Meyers for taking an interest and helping me spread the word about tenkara. If you would like to know the specific location of our day you can probably figure it out with a little research. But I encourage you to grab a map and a tenkara rod and plan your own adventures in the White Mountains.
No reel, no problems
(Note: the air date for this episode is June 30, 7pm WMUR-9 ABC)