Archive | August, 2011


23 Aug

I was watching a few instructional fly casting videos submitted by a friend I have on Facebook. Watching my friend practice his fly casting spurred me to search the internet for similar instructional videos. My search yielded a cornucopia of instructional videos related to various fishing topics. You can watch and emulate through practice almost any aspect of fishing, including, though not limited to, the basics of casting (spin casting, bait casting and, fly casting), various techniques for rigging lures, “finesse” techniques such as specific fly casting techniques, flipping and jigging for bass and the like.

Quite frankly, I found the number of people who desired to practice their fishing skills, on and off the water, captivating. The sincerity with which people practiced their fishing skills compelled me to submit the following thoughts on practice derived from my martial arts experience.

We have all had teachers, instructors, coaches, and similar mentors repeatedly tell us that “Practice makes perfect.“ Such mentors uttered this phrase as a form of axiomatic inspiration whereby we were encouraged to reach the unknown height of perfection.  In the past, whenever this phrase was chanted like a mantra, all those under the tutelage of their mentor would try harder, sweat abundantly, study more and otherwise reach into their inner most self to produce a level of achievement which they believed was incapable of manifesting. The time has finally come to rebel against this axiomatic dogma. It is time for every one that reads the within to firmly stand their ground. The next time some one tells you that “practice makes perfect”, look them directly in the eye and tell them they are wrong.

That is correct, look the dogmatic mentor in the eye and tell them to stop universally uttering such nonsense. After your mentor recovers his or her composure, inform them that their concept of practice is not only incomplete, but also lacks intuition. Practice does not make perfect. Rather PERFECT practice makes perfect. Imperfect or half-hearted practice only nurtures and fosters complacency and imperfection.

The Results Of Perfect Practice:


Keep this idea the next time you set about to practice a certain aspect of your fishing. Set time aside to devote to your practice without interruption, be of a positive state of mind for your practice. Most importantly, practice truly and with a pure heart; no half-hearted practice. Remember this well the next time you set out to practice fishing or are on-the-water fishing. In fact, remember it well as it also applies to life in general. PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. (See Endnote # 1).

As part of my practice, I practice a Kata using a fishing oar, called a “Eaku” used by the ancient fisherman of Okinawa to defend themselves.

Until the next article, I remain attempting always to perfectly practice.

Sensei John


1. I wish to make it abundantly clear that the concept that “Perfect practice makes perfect” is in no way my own. I have heard it many times in the Dojo of both Shihan Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, Goshin-Do Karate-Do  and Shihan Wayne Norlander, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, USA Goshin-Ryu Karate-Do, R.I.P.  Their oral tradition attributes this concept to the late Karate Pioneer, Shihan Peter Urban, Ju-Dan (10th Degree Black Belt) USA Goju-Ryu, who was a friend to them both.

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4 Aug

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, July, 2011, Monsoon season is officially underway. So far this has meant mostly dust storms and very little rain.

Superstition Mountains "Flatiron" the morning after a record-setting dust storm

Please remember that during the summer month’s it is extremely important that you carry enough water for you and all members of your fishing party. Suffice to say that dehydration and heat-related illnesses will quickly spoil an otherwise enjoyable day of fishing. Failure to carry enough water and exercise caution when hiking the shoreline has unpleasant consequences; there’s always a few residents of the waters that wait for you to make a mistake.


PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Success on the Lower Salt River was sporadic and highly influenced by the amount of pressure from float tubers. As such, I started exploring areas up river from the Water Users Recreation Area and down river from Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area.  These areas are outside the boundaries of commercial tubing operations. Fishing often involved casting in and about tight places, off of rock ledges and sometimes more hiking than casting flies.

There were catches of trout and small bass, but not as exciting as the quantity and size of fish to be found in the cooler months.


Water flows remained high, but started to settle down to normal summer flows.

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Canyon Lake proved, again, to be a go-to place for the month. Regular catches of bluegill and fair sized bass could be found in several areas, including both sides of the first one lane bridge on highway 88, all around Boulder Recreation Area (fishing the bridge was good, but also try hiking all around the area, there are many fine locations to be found) and several areas located off highway 88.

Best of all in the mid-morning, usually between eight o’clock and ten o’clock, there was great top water action to be had. For bass, deer hair poppers worked best twitched, “popped” and paused along the surface. For the bluegill and crappy, a small # 16 grasshopper and # 16 foam ant delicately twitched and paused on the surface could not be beat. For non-fly fisherman, rebel “Pop-R” lures worked best during this time.

This nice bass was the result of top water action courtesy of a deer hair popper.

In addition to the top of the water action, once again, several sub-surface combinations proved effective, including a # 14 apache lady wet fly with a # 16 red serendipity nymph tied behind it, # 12 muddler minnow with either a # 16 rainbow warrior nymph or a # 16 peacock lady tied behind it. Fishing the apache lady and red serendipity combination off the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation produced fun largemouth bass action when the bass came out from under the bridge to take the little # 16 red serendipity.

 a video link is below  

We were able to capture some of the action on video, here is a convenient link to our video entitled “Serendipity Bass.”


SAGUARO LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

With favorable results at Canyon Lake, we decided to see how the action at Saguaro Lake was. We found several good locations both on the two fishing bridges and along the shoreline adjacent to and between the bridges. Use extreme caution when hiking down from the parking lot to the shoreline when fishing in between and adjacent to the bridges themselves.

The successful fly patterns were the same as Canyon Lake for both top water and sub-surface fishing. Di also had top water success again with the Rebel Pop-R’s and sub-surface action on small “Swimmin’ Squirt” tube baits on a 1/32 ounce jig head by Bass Pro Shops.

    Bass – and – More Bass   


The Urban lakes System is one of the best means of introducing a child to fishing. Unlike the larger bodies of water, where you may have to hike to a good fishing location, contend with natural inhabitants, bees, and snakes, to name a few the Urban Lake System provides a “user-friendly” environment for a child take catch their first fish.

My grandson, Stratton, age 2, practices his fishing skills


Fly fishing was slow, but I did notice a few bait fisherman with respectable catfish catches. I also once again noticed quite a few bass cruising the shoreline. These cruising bass were easily spooked and hard to catch using flies.


As I indicated in my June fishing report, this lake was once inundated with algae. I am very happy to report that when I revisited the lake on July 16th, water clarity was greatly improved. Small largemouth bass and bluegill could been seen from shore.

Given these positive signs, I look forward to anticipated good fishing in August.


Walking the shoreline and fishing as I do allowed me to regularly see respectable sized catfish and largemouth bass; sometimes within inches of the shoreline. In addition bluegill were regularly seen. Water quality was very clear and care had to be exercised in approaching these fish as they were easily spooked.

Good bass fishing could be found along the reed laden sides of the off-shore islands. Due to limited fly casting opportunities caused by the shoreline vegetation, I opted for a bait-casting bass pole and had good success with a top water Rebel Pop-R cast very close to the reeds and “popped” along the surface. Watch for a ravenous attack when the lure is paused prior to the net pop. Here’s a photograph of one bass caught using the Rebel Pop-R in this fashion

We were also able to get some video footage of two bass; the video is entitled “Red Mountain Bass.” Here is a convenient link:



I paid an exploratory visit to this lake on July 13th. There were several small bass fry that were interested in taking a # 16 wire caddis tied behind a # 14 claret wooly bugger. While I was elated by the prospects of good bass fishing in the fall, after the fry have had a chance to grow, I was disappointed to find a dead bass which must have been caught and carelessly discarded into the water flow from the upper lake to the lower lake.

I can not emphasize enough that in order for this small lake to produce quality fishing, care must be exercised in catching and releasing fish. Any negligence will result in fishing decreasing faster than the Dow Jones Average on Wall Street.





For a very unique look at a historical aspect of fishing, you may wish to view “Fisherman As Warriors” by clicking this convenient link,

Until the next submission, I remain, fishing the Arizona desert known as “The Valley Of The Sun”,

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information. You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page tab above.

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