6-11-2022 North Country Angling-Bill Halloran

Bill Halloran scouting for fishing locations for Tenkara Camp Out 2022. (COURTESY PHOTO)

This weekend, the Mount Washington Valley will play host to the first ever Tenakara Camp Out. This is a gathering of like-minded individuals whose preferred method of angling for trout is using the ancient Japanese practice of Tenkara.

What is tenkara you may ask? Tenkara is Japanese for fishing from heaven. Over 400 years ago, Japanese commercial fishermen used the method to catch the wild trout, iwana, in the mountains of Japan. Tenkara was a stealthy way to present a bait to the trout.

After World War II, tenkara became a way for leisure anglers to go up into the mountains to catch some fish and relax. In the 1970s, an angler named Ishigaki began to promote tenkara as a method of sport fishing around the world. Ishgaki used artificial wet flies in place of bait.

In 2009, an American angler, Daniel Galhardo brought tenkara fishing to America and the tenkara revolution began.

The White Mountains most closely resemble the mountains in Japan where tenkara began. Tall peaks form the headwaters of streams that are home to New Hampshire’s state fish, the brook trout. These little wild jewels are just the right species for modern tenkara fishing.

A long-time angler in the White Mountains, Bill Halloran, began tenkara fishing the White Mountains just a few short years ago. He quickly learned that the Granite State was hard on the traditional tenkara equipment. Halloran decided that he needed to build a better mouse trap.

Working closely with manufacturers in the Far East, Halloran designed a tenkara rod where the tips of the rod would hold up to the abuse a tenkara rod would take fishing in the White Mountains. The first rod had a feature where the rod could be fished at various lengths.

Telescoping out to eleven feet initially, the rod could stretch to 12 feet and then 13 feet. Perfect for reaching the plunge pools on White Mountain brooks without having to expose the angler’s shadow and spooking the fish.

As anglers moved higher and higher into the White Mountains and the streams became smaller, Halloran developed a fixed length rod that telescoped out to eight feet. This rod was easier to handle in the smaller headwater streams.

Needless to say, the White Mountains have played a crucial roll in the development of Halloran’s tenkara rods and the success of his company Red Brook Tenkara.

Last year, Halloran was featured on WMUR TV’s New Hampshire Chronicle program. He demonstrated the ease in which someone can begin learning the art of tenkara. You can check out the episode on the New Hampshire Chronicle YouTube channel.

In the continuing evolution of Red Brook Tenkara, Halloran decided to hold an event to celebrate the art and the part that the White Mountains have played in that growth. The White Mountains Tenkara Camp Out is taking place this weekend at the Barnes Field Camping Area in the White Mountain National Forest.

This is the perfect place for tenkara anglers to gather. The Peabody River is home to wild brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Nineteen Mile Brook, Carter Notch Ponds, Headwaters of the Wildcat, Lost Brook, Ellis River and Rocky Branch all lend themselves to the art.

If you want to learn more about tenkara, consider visiting the Dolly Copp Picnic Area tonight at 6 p.m. Anglers who are camping will be cooking food and sharing stories of their day in the mountains and on the water. It is a great way to get exposed to and learn from some of New England’s best tenkara anglers.

Tip of the Week

Trout are starting to take bugs on the surface. Consider casting Wulff flies or Humpy flies for the wild brook trout of the White Mountains. These flies work well with tenkara or conventional fly tackle.

Steve Angers, a native to the Conway area, is the author of the book “Fly Fishing New Hampshire’s Secret Waters” and operates the North Country Angler.

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