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Urban Exploration

by JJ
(Upstate SC)

I am a thin blue line guy at heart. However, sometimes it’s just not practical, or possible to get to these little mountain streams. It’s about a 45 min. drive to my nearest trout area, and up to 2 hours for a lot of it. When I just can’t dedicate the travel time it takes, I look closer to home.

I live in a rapidly growing part of the country. I won’t go into why it’s growing so fast, but one of the results of that growth is retention ponds. Built to mitigate the loss of permeable surfaces, they are an increasing feature in this area. As Chris mentioned in a previous post, many of these ponds hold bass and sunfish. I decided last summer to explore some of these ponds, as well as some urban creeks in my area.

When you are the sort of person who mainly fishes headwater streams, where things are clean and quiet, urban fishing provides a.......let’s call it different, perspective. Although dirty, and polluted from run-off, I have been surprised to find a diversity of sunfish species, and spotted bass in a creek that drains the heart of the city. The retention ponds also somehow support bass and sunfish. I’m not sure if their presence is the result of man or not, but they are in there. The ponds also provide a great “close to home” testing grounds for new gear/lures.

I have a five foot Tenryu Rayz that I got from Chris last year as my main small stream trout rod. I enjoy using that rod so much that I am currently using it to explore these ponds as well. So far, it has handled the one to two pound bass without leaving me feeling under gunned - a use that I didn’t have in mind when I made that purchase.

So, if life gets hectic and interrupts your plans to fish far flung places, look closer to home. The fish are there!

Comments for Urban Exploration

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Jan 15, 2019
All Most 100 days!
by: Les Albjerg

JJ - With your new found method, I got out fishing 97 days last year. My goal is to break 100 this year. Like you, my best fishing is an hour or more away from home. I also live in one of the faster growing areas of the USA. I see this a lot at Wilson Springs as it is getting more crowded by the month.

Another discovery for me is I am now fishing what are called "reaches." These are irrigation canals that have water running through them year round. They have fish in them! I cross over 3 of them every day on the way to work.

One of new favorite "Urban" spots has one of the busiest rail lines on the north of it and the freeway on the right side! It isn't tranquil fishing! That said, there are a lot of fish there! I have also discovered several small streams that are almost impossible to fish in the summer with the leaves on the trees, but provide opportunity to fish when they are bare. Not today as we are having a snow storm!

The biggest fish I have caught on my Tenyru is a largemouth bass that weighed in between 4 and 5 pounds. It was at about the limit of the rod. However, with the fine Shimano reel I paired with the Tenyru, it will compensate for an oversized fish!

I have also found a couple of Urban Gems! Fishing spots that provide peace and tranquility that are not pressured. Speaking of Gems, I have learned to keep my mouth shut! One of my friends at work shared a spot with a mutual friend. He shared it with me. Now I know of 8 people who know where that spot is and 6 of us have fished it. Multiply that out a few times, and guess what, it will not be a honey hole anymore as it only takes a few fish hogs to deplete a spot! This is an area that isn't stocked. But Oh! is it tempting to want to (lets be truthful) brag about a great spot! I would really like to take my friend Josh and his son up to my honey hole in the mountains. I'm going to resist the temptation as it could easily get fished out. Besides, half the fun is exploring for new waters.

Jan 15, 2019
Urban Gems
by: JJ

Hey Les,
That’s an envious amount of time fishing. I’m going to keep better track of it this year, but I’m probably half that. Thanks for the Tenryu feedback. I’m a big fan of that rod. I’m planning on adding a couple new rods to the stable this year, so hopefully the Tenryu will get some time off. I’m still searching for my urban gem. I have a few spots that I enjoy, but I wouldn’t go so far as calling them gems.

Jan 16, 2019
Not All Day!
by: Les Albjerg

One big lesson I learned from Tom Davis over at Teton Tenkara, is you don't have to fish for a long time to have fun. My old mindset was if I can't fish for a long time, I just won't go fishing. Some of my best sessions last year were only a half-hour long. I would venture to say one of the best managed Urban rivers is the Boise River where it flows through the city of Boise. Four times last year, I had meetings for work in Boise, and spent half my lunch hour fishing the Boise River for a half hour before the meeting. I caught fish each time too!

If your looking to add a rod, I can highly recommend the Tenryu Lunakia LK610S-MLT. I named mine "The Star Ship Enterprise." I didn't know any rod could cast a 2.5 gram spoon as far it it does! Talk about Warp Speed! I'm still exploring the limits of this rod, but it is a fantastic rod! At 6 feet 8 inches, it isn't necessary a stream rod, but it is very sensitive and has had enough backbone to land one bass and many trout, the largest being 14 inches in a mild current with no problem.

JJ - I am confident you will find a couple of Urban Gems this year. I'll let you in on one of my favorite tools for finding them. Google Earth! Get on Google Earth and figure out a circle around your house that is less than a 20 minute drive. Identify all the waters in that circle, and then go exploring. I did this about 2 years ago, and I am still exploring new areas. There is one I marked and just haven't gotten around to checking it out yet. I'm planning on doing it this weekend.

Jan 16, 2019
Google Maps
by: JJ

I too am a Google Map user. In fact, that was my number one tool for finding potential waters closer to home. I have always been a map user, spending hours studying contour intervals to get a mental lay of the land before exploring. In addition to good old paper Topo maps I also use an iPhone app called Gaia topo. I’ve used it for backcountry trips as a map and a navigation tool.
I have read good things about the Tenryu Lunakia, and I can’t imagine there being a "bad" Tenryu in existence, but I think I want all of my future rods to be an easily portable three or four piece build. I am planning on some future travel and want to be able to grab any combination of rods knowing that I can carry them on an airplane. I am really torn right now between going shorter or longer than my five foot Tenryu Rayz. Of Chris’ Current offerings, the Daiwa Wise Stream in either the 4’5" version or the 6’2" version seem to be where I am going. I had a conversation with him last year about the Palms/Anglers Republic Sylpher crossover series. It’s glass/carbon combination is intriguing but I can’t find anything in the way of a user review. At least none in a language I speak.

Jan 17, 2019
Wise Stream
by: Jerry

I think you'l find the Wise Stream a much nicer rod than anything available from a US manufacturer. I have the 53UL and it's an extremely well made rod with an excellent action and rock solid reel seat. Plenty of backbone for bass or larger trout.

No need to go longer in my opinion and I would even go shorter for airline travel, the UL rods handle 4 pound line with ease and could even go to 5 or 6 in a JDM line without much effort.

Jan 17, 2019
Rod choice.
by: JJ

Thanks for the feedback about the Wise Stream. I tend to lean towards shorter rods for a variety of reasons, however I am struggling with the idea that I may benefit from a little more length for ponds, and larger, more open rivers than I usually fish. I would rather add something shorter than 6’ knowing it is likely to get used more than occasionally. I’m afraid if I get longer than that I’ll sacrifice some diversity. It sounds like you don’t miss the length very much. I have been pleasantly surprised at the range of fishing I have been able to do comfortably with my 5’ Tenryu, so I can relate to your comments. The end game for me will to eventually add several options. My financial discipline simply means that is going to take a little more time.

Jan 18, 2019
Nice Review
by: Les Albjerg

Thanks for the review of the Wise Stream. I continue to marvel at the JDM rods. I would like to hear more reviews by those of us who have bought rods.

One of the things that the Japanese do is have more eyes, to take advantage of the technology they have built into the blanks. The power that can be generated by such a light rod often brings a smile to my face. The connection with the fish is almost as good as with a Tenkara Rod, and much much better than any fly rod I have ever fished.

Jan 19, 2019
Wise Stream
by: Jerry


I don't think you notice much difference (if any) in casting distance between a 6' and a 5'3" in the UL Wise Stream series. Once I find a good combination I stick with it.

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The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.