Monthly Archives: December 2011

Tenkara USA at Somerset!

Daniel Galhardo, seen here with Blue Ribbon Flies owner Craig Mathews (left) and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard (center) in West Yellowstone, Mont., will bring Tenkara USA into the mainstream with a booth at The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, N.J.

This should be interesting. Tenkara USA, the upstart company that shuns all but the essential tackle of fly-fishing, will be an exhibitor at the world’s biggest fly tackle shop — The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, N.J. in late January.

Alongside vendors hawking expensive reels and fly lines, Tenkara USA will assert that neither is necessary for trout fishing — only a long, telescoping rod with what amounts to a 15- or 20-foot leader affixed to its tip.

Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo will also be present at the booths of the few brick-and-mortar retailers who carry his rods at The Fly Fishing Show in Denver Jan. 6-8 and Marlborough, Mass. Jan. 20-22. But Somerset will be the first show where Tenkara USA has its own booth. (Galhardo won’t sell tackle so as not to compete with his authorized dealers at the show. “The booth is for me to do what I like best, which is talking to people about tenkara,” he said.)

And don’t think the fixed-line fly-fishers will shy away from the casting ponds because they can’t cast 100 feet (or even half that.)   Galhardo said he looks forward to showing how a tenkara rod can easily hold 20 or 30 feet of line off the water, resulting in for superb presentation that reeled rods just can’t achieve.

“That’s been my primary request (to show organizers), to give me time on the casting ponds,” Galhardo said. “What I want to do in the demoonstration is to show people that tenkara is not dapping, there’s casting involved, and show there are even some things that you can’t do with a western fly rod that you can do with tenkara.”

Right from its launch in April 2009, Tenkara USA was a fly-fishing iconoclast, cheerfully declaring there’s no need for a reel, a 90-foot fly line and 150 feet of backing — or, for that matter, any real need to match the hatch. A relatively short line affixed to the tip of an 11- to 14-foot rod, with a simple wet fly on the tippet, caught lots of fish for commercial anglers in the mountains of Japan in the 19th century, and does the same today for the small but vibrant tenkara subcultures in Japan and, now, the U.S. and Europe.

There have been a few haters who grumbled about “crappie poles,” but most American fly-fishers have at least given tenkara a respectful hearing, even if they don’t get the appeal. Others are mildly intrigued, and a few thousand are now zealous tenkara-heads. (Count me in the last group. I don’t fish my 5-weight very often  these days.) Tenkara has been helped along by ringing endorsements by some fly-fishing luminaries, including John Gierach, Ed Engle and Craig Mathews. In September, tenkara angler and guide Erik Ostrander came in second in the Utah Single Fly Event on the Green River, losing only to competition angler lance Egan and thus, as his guide put it, finishing “first among mortals.”

The Fly Line hears Christopher Stewart, proprietor of, may also be on hand at Somerset, and if so will undoubtedly have a trove of tenkara lines, flies and accessories available. UPDATE Dec. 17: Yes, Chris will be there, but won’t be selling gear, per the organizers’ rules.

The Somerset show runs Jan. 27-29 at the Garden State Convention Center.


Trout Power!

It looks like there’s going to be a little trout fishing tournament on West Canada Creek, the big trout river smack dab in the middle of New York State,

Kim Ernst of Holland Patent, N.Y. fishes West Canada Creek. Photo by Jordan Ross.

in June.

Most events like this are pretty laid back; the participants may fish to the best of their abilities, and may engage in some good-natured chops-busting with their compet­itors, but the twin goals are almost always to have a few laughs and support a good cause.

The cause in this case is something my friend Jordan Ross has taken to calling Trout Power. Ross, who lives in Whitesboro, near Utica, is the owner of JP Ross Fly Rods and president of the Fly Fishers Anglers Association, so you can guess that his personal interest in the West Canada is its trout fishing.

But he sees Trout Power as a way to boost the whole West Canada Valley — and not simply as a fishing destination. It is, as I can say from pleasant experience, a lovely area that would appeal to a wide variety of people, with plenty of nice local businesses — shops, restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts — that would happily support visitors who want to bike, hike, bird-watch, leaf-peep or just relax.

“Success to me looks like this,” Ross said. “Somebody drives through Middleville, Newport, Poland, and says to their spouse, ‘I want to Google this area. It looks like a great place to stay.’”

Of course, there are considerations. The fishing on the West Canada is subject to the whims of Brookfield Renewable Power, which operates a hydroelectric plant on the creek. The company has for years frustrated anglers by “pulsing” its flow — pushing higher amounts of water through its turbines at those times of day when the electricity produced is most valuable on the open market.

Through most of October and November of this year, which are normally good months on the West Canada, an angler on the creek in early afternoon would be fishing in about 1,000 cubic feet of water per second, only to be sent scrambling for the shore when another 1,000 cfs came surging through the turbines and down the valley. That’s no way to fish, and no way to treat a trout stream.

So Trout Power’s ability to contribute to the local economy will depend at least partly on the way Brookfield Renewable Power operates its power plant. Ross has had a chat with the local congressman, Richard Hanna, about this.

Then there’s the asphalt plant proposed near the West Canada — and even nearer its tributaries — in the town of Russia. West Canada Riverkeeper has been bird-dogging this project, and Ross hopes that if it moves forward, it will include the strongest possible safeguards for nearby waterways. (Of course, he added, the proposed plant’s immediate neighbors will likely have further concerns, such as truck traffic, noise, smell and impact on property values.)

Trout Power doesn’t rely on banning hydro power or manufacturing from the valley, Ross said, but it does require that they don’t harm the West Canada. It’s been the region’s top attraction for a century, back to the time when Trenton Falls rivaled Niagara as a tourist destination.

Ross is working to enlist the support of other local businesses in Trout Power. Meanwhile, plans for the fishing tournament are firming up. The likely time frame is the second week of June, which will coincide nicely with the town of Russia’s annual chicken barbecue and with the Green Drake hatch. If the weather’s good and Brookfield Renewable Power shows some respect for the natural resource that’s responsible for its profits, it should be a great time and a compelling demonstration of the power of trout.

Check out for updates.

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at

Preserving One Hill, Developing Another

The good news: New York State announced 1,200 acres of Catskill mountainside will be added to the state Forest Preserve, to be kept forever wild.

The bad news: This allows a developer to bulldoze the shoulder of a nearby mountain in Esopus Creek watershed and build parking lots and golf courses where there is now forest.

News release & string of quotes follows.

For Release:  IMMEDIATE                                                                       Contact:  Emily DeSantis

Wednesday, December 7, 2011                                                                     518-402-8000



Big Indian Acquisition Protects Important State Forestland


New York state’s purchase of 1,200 acres of land on the eastern side of Belleayre Mountain, known as Big Indian, is expected to be completed later this week, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The acquisition will expand the Catskill Park Preserve and further protect the New York City watershed.

“The Big Indian acquisition preserves a major undeveloped geographic feature of the scenic Route 28 corridor in the heart of the Catskill Park,” Commissioner Martens said. “The property is an important natural resource for future public recreation and in protecting the New York City watershed. The completion of this acquisition protects the Catskill Park while allowing economic growth in the area.”


The $5.6 million used to purchase the land came from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The property will be added to the constitutionally protected State Forest Preserve and will remain on local property tax rolls. This purchase fulfills a priority project area in the state’s Open Space Conservation Plan.


The purchase also completes a key element in a non-binding Agreement in Principle reached between the state, the City of New York, several environmental groups and Crossroads Ventures LLC in September 2007.  That agreement outlined a potential path forward to protect important lands in the New York City watershed and to allow for the potential future construction of a downsized private development project known as the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, as well as an expansion of the state’s Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.


Congressman Maurice Hinchey said: “The conservation of 1,200 acres of Big Indian Ridge on Belleayre Mountain is something I have long championed, and I deeply appreciate the DEC’s commitment to preserving this important natural area. This acquisition recognizes the vital need in the Catskills to balance smart and sustainable economic development with the conservation of critical forest lands and protection of water quality. This will ensure that the region can be enjoyed by current and future generations.”


EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said: “I applaud the State of New York for this impressive land preservation commitment. It helps ensure clean drinking water for millions of New Yorkers, preserves the scenic beauty of the Catskills and helps launch a sustainable economic development project in a region that needs it.”


State Senator John Bonacic said: “The State’s acquisition of Big Indian will compliment the overall recreational experience available in the Catskills.  I am pleased this step is being taken, and hopeful it will help advance the much needed Crossroads resort project.”


Assemblymember Kevin Cahill said: “The addition of the Big Indian Plateau to the Catskill Preserve is long overdue and represents a significant step forward for the environment and our regional economy.  This land acquisition will ensure the preservation and protection of the highly sensitive ecosystem that attracts so many visitors to the area.  I look forward to building on this progress by continuing to work with our communities, Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens to see that the promised state investments in the Belleayre Ski Center and Route 28 Corridor come to fruition.”


New York City Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland said: “The purchase of the 1,200-acre parcel in Big Indian is a great complement to steps we are taking to preserve the quality of New York City’s water supply. Since 1997, the city has protected more than 120,000 acres of the most sensitive watershed land. This allows us to maintain our status as one of only five large cities to operate an unfiltered water supply and it means that New Yorkers continue to receive the best water possible every time they turn on the tap.”


Dean Gitter, Managing Member of Crossroads Ventures LLC, the seller of the Big Indian lands, said:  “We are pleased to have facilitated New York State’s acquisition of these magnificent lands for Forest Preserve preservation and protection of NYC’s watershed. This acquisition is further evidence of the private sector and the public sector working together to promote the interests of the Catskill region.”


Eric A. Goldstein, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “This is the largest and most important state land acquisition in the Catskills in a decade; among other benefits, it will help protect downstate drinking water and help prevent upstate flooding. Governor Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Joe Martens deserve the thanks of all New Yorkers for safeguarding this 1,200-acre green jewel for future generations.”


Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, said: “Riverkeeper applauds the state’s completion of the acquisition and protection of the Big Indian Belleayre Mountain property as an important addition to the Catskill Forest Preserve.  Protecting forests, scenic viewsheds and clean water in the Catskills protects drinking water for 9 million New Yorkers while also supporting economically important tourism and sustainable development.  As an organization, Riverkeeper has long supported the protection of lands and waters in the Catskills and in particular the acquisition by the state of this property.  This is an important milestone for the Catskills and New York.”


Open Space Institute CEO Kim Elliman said: “Congratulations to Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens for this tremendous achievement in land conservation and natural resource protection in the heart of the Catskills.  The future of this critical property has hung in the balance for many years and it is a relief to all who care about the Catskills to see it protected.  The preservation of this ecologically significant and prominent parcel will safeguard the watershed, benefit surrounding communities and serve as a model of smart, sustained land use.”


Alan White, Executive Director of The Catskill Center for Conservation said: “The Catskill Center is very pleased to see this impressive addition to the Forest Preserve and we recognize the significance of this permanent protection for 1200 acres of watershed forest in the Ashokan basin.”