Sunday, April 03, 2022

What Works for Me - Part 1

The Cogburn at Little Isabella

The summer of 2021 was interesting in a number of aspects, particularly as a self-described backcountry fly-fisherman. A moderately mild winter was followed by a very warm and dry July, during which a major wildfire closed down the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and much of the Superior National Forest. Before that happened, we were able to take one trip to our favorite Superior campground, Little Isabella River National Forest Campground near Isabella. The overly warm conditions made it difficult to “test” some new, and/or revised equipment. In addition, my brand-new 2 wt. fly rod’s test run was cut short when I threw it into the car during a sudden thunderstorm and broke the tip-off. But more on that another time.

Several things continue to work well for me; primary among those were my Badger/TAO Tenkara fly rod, the Trout Routes smartphone app, and my trusty Cogburn Outdoors CB4 fat bike. In addition, I lost my 2007 Jeep Liberty to a very large deer while traveling at 65 mph on my way to work in late June, and replaced it with a 2016 Subaru Forester; our seventh Subaru. My Cabela’s RLS fly rod continues to serve me well, and my good old Eagle Claw 7.5 foot continued its many years of service after the similarly sized, previously mentioned Redington Trout Classic rod was broken.

Tenkara Adventure Outfitters (TAO) bought out Badger Tenkara several years ago and continues to provide the same great Tenkara rods and related gear and to support those of us who own equipment bought from the original manufacturer. My Badger Tenkara UNC (Un-Named Creek) rod has been my primary lake/pond fishing pole for about five years, and it is a lot of fun. It’s 8.5-foot length is good on most of the small streams I tend to fish, as well as from shore or in a canoe on a lake or pond. I have caught numerous panfish, bass, and some perch with it, although trout have managed to elude my fly. It is very easy and quick to deploy, and I carry it and a small Tenkara pocket pack with flies, leader/tippet, and spare line with me most of the time during trout season. I have enjoyed using it so much that I have purchased two additional Tenkara rods, one of which arrived over the winter. I will post more about them when I have a chance to evaluate them at Wisconsin Tenkara Trout Camp in June.

I am not necessarily a big fan of electronics in fishing, although like most people I have a smartphone with several different map applications and it. One of these that I have found virtually (pun intended) indispensable is the Trout Routes App. I met the developer, Zach Pope, at the last Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo before the Covid pandemic hit, and the application was just in its early stages. I was impressed with it enough to buy an iPhone when it came time to replace/upgrade my cell phone because initially, the app was designed for iPhones. Over the past four years, Trout Routes capabilities and coverage have increased significantly with new states and streams being added on a regular basis. You can bring up any designated trout stream in any of the 23 states currently covered (and that number keeps increasing) and find topography, access points, easements, public lands, and more. You can download the streams you will be fishing into your phone for off-the-grid access, and most recently you can also find stream reports and state-by-state regulations, including restrictions or specifics on a given stream. As part of the 10 essentials, I always carry a paper map and compass with me, but when I go stream fishing, Trout Routes is always on my belt.

Finally, let me once again sing the accolades of my now-discontinued Cogburn CB4 fat bike. No, it is not an e-bike, but many of the trails are used to access streams on the Chequamegon, Superior, and Chippewa National Forests do not allow motorized vehicles, and electric-assist bicycles are considered motorized under that definition. I have no doubt that my next bicycle will be an e-bike (I’m leaning toward a Bakcou Flatlander, but we’ll see.) but for now, I’m perfectly content to pedal along on the 4-inch-wide tires of my Cogburn. Its sturdy construction, solid rims, and tubed tires make it truly a human-powered All-Terrain Vehicle. I have it set up with my Garman Edge Explorer 1000 GPS and my iPhone on the handlebars to use the above-mentioned Trout Routes app when Bikefishing. It’s been working very well.

I am going to make a concerted effort to post to this blog more frequently this season. Minnesota stream trout season opens two weeks from yesterday, and I was speaking with some representatives from MN DNR Fisheries about some interesting prospects in Pine and Carlton counties here in Minnesota, and as I mentioned I will be going to the Wisconsin Tenkara Trout Camp the first week of June. Additionally, my wonderful, beautiful, fantastic, fly fishing wife has booked us for a guided trout fishing excursion on the Bois Brule River in northwest Wisconsin in mid-June. So at least for a few months, there should be plenty of material, including reviews of my new Tenkara rods, my replacement Redington fly rod, and some other neat stuff I think you’ll enjoy. Hopefully, I’ll figure out how to have the time to write about it.

Tight lines and clear waters!


Mentioned in this blog:

Trout Routes:

Tenkara Adventure Outfitters:

BakCou Hunting e-Bikes: