It’s a land of catfish and bass. Okies do like their eccentric ways to land the big ones, aka noodling anyone, but a rod without a reel is a bit odd even for them. When Stephen pulled his new Tenkara rod out of a duffle and headed down to the Mountain Fork River in Southeastern Oklahoma, he stuck out a bit from the crowd. Known as the “region’s best trout fishing” the Mountain Fork flows out of the Re-Regulation Dam holding back Broken Bow lake and is stocked with rainbows and browns for us trout seekers. It’s also Oklahoma’s best whitewater, admittedly our real reason for being there.
Stephen had studied the Tenkara philosophy and system from various perspectives, but never actually cast a rod before those first tosses of fly into the Mountain Fork. He had tracked down his rod over the phone with RIGS Fly Shop in Ridgway, Colorado and it had arrived in our suburban Oklahoma home fresh from the San Juan Mountains. He figured out how to put on his line and tie on a fly, not sure how he selected said fly, and then he was off to the rock garden and pools of the Mountain Fork. The trout eluded him that evening but he caught a blue gill to give back to the river. It was fun to watch him fish, and it was amusing to observe others watch him fish with his funny system.
We only fished one other time in Oklahoma before we moved to the San Juan Mountains and made RIGS our “hometown” shop and their merry band of guides our friends and mentors. Stephen and I spent a very cold March morning on the banks of a freshly stocked Cache Creek in Medicine Park, Oklahoma. The quaint cobblestoned community will always have a special place in my heart as the gateway to our playground—the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge—but it will never go down as a great trout story for us. We ate catfish at Riverside Restaurant after thawing out our fingers. We never did land an Okie-trout. And my moving away from Oklahoma gift to myself was waders, boots and my much loved Ayu, but I do like the fact we got our Tenkara start in the Sooner State.