Tenkara Summit 2015 Estes Park, Colorado

2015 Tenkara Summit, Estes Park, CO
Image Courtesy of Tenkara USA
There are times when the stars seem to align and all things good seem to fall into place. Such is the case this past weekend in Estes Park, Colorado. 

The annual Tenkara Summit hosted by Tenkara USA occurred over the weekend of  September 19 and 20, 2015 in two of the more majestic locations in Colorado, the YMCA of the Rockies located just outside of Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), the Crown Jewel of the U.S. National Park System ,the most magnificent locale in the great State of Colorado (in my humble opinion, I am a bit biased as I live within driving distance of RMNP.)

The Tenkara Summit brought over 200 guests to the YMCA of the Rockies to hear talks by some of the heavy hitters of the tenkara world in one place. With talks presented by tenkara greats like Mr. Yoshikazu Fujioka and Mr. Go Ishii, who both travelled from Japan to share their deep knowledge and passion for tenkara with those of us who might still be considered "grasshoppers."

The Summit held on Saturday, September 19 was a very full schedule with lots of excitement and camaraderie mixed in. The day started early yet the energy level apparent from the registrants was infectious.

8-9 Check in and Registration
9:15-9:30 Welcome by Daniel Galhardo
9:30-10:15 Go Ishii – tenkara in Japan 
10:30-11:15 Yoshikazu Fujioka – all about tenkara flies
11:15-11:40 Q & A with Mr. Fujioka, Go Ishii, and Daniel
11:40-2:45 Lunch, clinics and vendors
2:50-3:00  Prize drawings
3:00-3:40 Steve Schweitzer – fishing at RMNP
3:40-4:00 Closing remarks for the day
4:00-7:30 Go fish, eat, relax
7:30-10:00 “Woody Creek” Fly-tying evening with competition, magic by Dennis Vander Houwen, prizes and more. Beverages and snacks provided
Daniel Galhardo of Tenkara USA
Photo Courtesy of  Glenn Grossman
The morning started with check in for registered guests and walk ins. During this time period everyone was able to mingle and get to know each other or chat with old friends who we had not seen for some time. With coffee and donuts provided the participants were pulled to their seats by the ever present fearless leader of Tenkara USA, Daniel Galhardo, who gave a welcome speech that few could rival.

Mr. Go Ishii
Photo Courtesy of TenkaraGrasshopper Media Services, LTD
The first presenter was Mr. Go Ishii, a resident of Tokyo, Japan and a student of Dr. Hisao Ishigaki and Mr. Sakakibara Masami. Ishii-san presented his take on tenkara in Japan by season. By covering each season along with discussing what equipment and techniques work for these time periods the tenkara angler based here in the United States or anywhere else in the world for that matter, can incorporate these techniques into their personal practice.

I found it fascinating to see the areas that Ishii-san fishes and some of the places that he avoids based on water flows and topography of the region. It was also interesting to me to hear how he takes the environment and works with it or avoids what the environment presents to him. By far the thing that I found wonderful to see was the community that supports the propagation of trout of Japan. This is done by anglers who come together and do what they must to protect each fish in any given river. Seldom do you see a cohesive community like this that is much more informal than any formal organization in other places in the world including the United States.

Mr. Yoshikazu Fujioka tying flies
Photo Courtesy of Glenn Grossman
After a brief break to get some fresh air and replenish the coffee the participants returned to their seats to hear an in-depth talk on tenkara flies by the venerable Mr. Yoshikazu Fujioka, the mastermind and driving force behind, My Best Streams - Traditional Tenkara Flies. Fujioka-san gave an exhaustive talk on his research into the traditional tenkara flies of Japan, with a focus on hooks used to tie certain patterns from different regions of Japan.

Tenkara Summit 2015 Q and A with Daniel Galhardo, Mr. Fujioka and Mr. Ishii
Photo Courtesy of Adam Trahan
The talks that both Ishii-san and Fujioka-san gave were followed up by a very informative question and answer session which also included Daniel Galhardo. Having the opportunity to ask questions of these gentlemen was an occurrence that is not common in many settings. The question and answer session wrapped up the morning and everyone was free to eat a delectable lunch at the YMCA cafeteria and roam the vendor area as well as participate in a number of clinics.

Graham Moran and Mark R Bolson Talking Tenkara Kebari
Photo Courtesy of Tenkara USA
Mark R Bolson and I, apparently and happily, the Tenkara USA Resident Fly Tiers, offered instruction and demos in tying traditional tenkara patterns to the registrants of the Summit. I was even able to teach two young people the excitement of tying their own flies which they were able to take home with them to share with their family members.

Richard Kolodny of Fly fishing Artwork
Photo Courtesy of TenkaraGrasshopper Media Services, LTD
Following a great lunch and making the rounds with a number of vendors including Richard Kolodny of Fly fishing Artwork fame and his lovely wife. I was able to chat with Chris Zimmer of Zimmerbuilt, and Scott Hunt of Vedavoo. And to top of the break the participants had it was made even but by having beer from Upslope Brewing to make everyone enjoy themselves that much more.

Fly Fishing Guide To Rocky Mountain National Park
Photo courtesy of Fly Fishing RMNP

Door prizes were handed to a number of participants upon returning from lunch. There were some great prizes given out including a complete Tenkara USA set up which went to a young man who was very excited to say the least. Once all the prizes were given out we were presented with the opportunity to learn about fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) for the venerable and ever entertaining Steve Schweitzer, the author of Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park. For a change and as a benefit to the participants, Steve actually gave out suggestions on places to go in RMNP on Saturday evening or Sunday during the day.

"Woody Creek" Fly Tying Event
Photo Courtesy of Tenkara USA

Everyone was able to relax or go fishing before returning to the YMCA dining hall for dinner and the continuation of an amazing day. To finish off what was already great everyone was invited to the "Woody Creek" Fly Tying Event, a crazy fly tying event that involved a fair amount of alcohol as well as lots of fun challenges with some great prizes given away including two sets of traditional tenkara flies tied by none other that Fujioka-san himself. The winners of those boxes were some very lucky people since those flies were museum quality flies.

TenkaraGrasshopper and Mr. Go Ishii
Photo taken by Mark R. Bolson
Sunday rolled around early than some may have wished but many rose in a hangover stupor to make their way into RMNP for a day of fishing and camaraderie before returning to the world outside the tenkara community. I was blessed to fish with Go Ishii and chat with him while observing his technique. Having this chance was a truly eye opening experience for me as Ishii-san was so open to sharing his tenkara experience with a "grasshopper" like me.

So as you can guess from this I had a great time at the 2015 Tenkara Summit in Estes Park, Colorado and I look forward to this event in the future. I enjoyed seeing all of my friends new and old and am excited to fish with you all before to long.

The 2015 Tenkara Summit Team
Photo Courtesy of Tenkara USA

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