A few days ago I had a chance to spend most of the day fishing with Dennis on the Arkansas River tailwater below Pueblo Reservoir. The day was warm for mid-January, the water was beautiful, and we had plenty of time to talk. Dennis and I have much in common; a mutual love for our wives and daughters, tiny blue lines on the map, and exploring narrow canyons with heavy packs on our backs. I had the privilege of guiding Dennis a couple of years back, helping him build his tenkara skillset on the banks of the Uncompahgre River in southwestern Colorado. Since then, Dennis and I have fished many of the same canyons, and I’m surprised that during all this time we’ve never crossed paths while on the water until our recent day on the Arkansas. He has much to offer those who attend the Tenkara Winter Series, and I hope you can be there as he shares his passion for searching out new off-the-beaten-path stream.
How did you get your start with tenkara?
Dennis: “Prior to 2009 I really had limited experience with fly fishing. I’m a native of southern California, and I really didn’t have much chance to do anything but deep sea fishing prior to coming to Colorado. I had been a ‘lurker’ on an online hunting, angling, and backpacking message forum where you had been posting for quite a few years. In 2009 I read that you had taken up tenkara, and read some reports from wilderness trips you had taken while fishing this way. That really got my attention. A year or so later I had purchased my own rod and had started fishing. Once I had my own rod, and started tying my own flies, I was fishing and exploring new streams like a madman!”
Do you have a favorite fly pattern?
Dennis: “Yes! I tie a sakasa kebari with a pink thread body with a rooster pheasant hackle. I like to tie it on a Dai Riki 135 scud hook in size 12 or 14. I’ve really done well with this pattern on small water in the Colorado mountains.
What do you find the most exciting part of tenkara?
Dennis: Exploring new water! I love poring over topographic maps, looking for streams that are way off the beaten path. I like the problem solving and investigation required for finding those kinds of places to fish. I’ve learned quite a bit about how to go about researching new water. There’s a definite “method behind the madness” to be successful in nailing down really good water to fish on public lands. I’d like to share that knowledge with other tenkara anglers at the Winter Series!