Tag Archives: Ernest Hemingway

July, 2014 Fishing Journal

8 Aug

July, 2014, Valley of the Sun.
I’m driving to the Lower Salt River one morning hoping to get in a few hours of fishing before the triple heat swoops in. Classic rock plays on the radio. A song ends. The D.J. begins the weather report, “Today’s weather; Christ is gonna be hot!” “One fourteen in Phoenix later, but now, the Talking Heads Burning Down The House.”
I think, “What a great way to sum up fishing in the Arizona summer.”

Hemingway once said,“No one can work every day in the hot months without going stale. To break up the pattern of work, we fish . . . “ (Endnote # 1) So, in these unbearably hot days, when one’s spirit can easily go stale, I turn to fishing whenever I can and my karate kata when I can’t. Before my fingers go stale, I best get on with July’s fishing.

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

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

When time permits, fishing the Lower Salt is a double bonus. First, you’re fishing – ‘nuff said. Second, you’re able to wade its cool waters and keep your body temperature within a comfortable zone. Do; however, use caution. The river moves fast and has some tricky currents. A few people drown each year.

                     bass-c00n-b-rat-l     bass-tellico-coob-bluff

The problem with fishing the river is one of changing water flows. I always consult the flows before planning a trip. You can also do so by visiting
If there is a change of more than 200 c.f.s. within a day of my trip, then I fish elsewhere. Here’s what the flows looked like for July, 2014.


More photos from the river.

   bass-mask      salt-coon-bass-bh-eggi-juan-kenobi


CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

On those summer days when I can spare a few hours to fish and the changing flows keep me off the river, I fish Canyon Lake. My exact choice of location is a function of the difficulty of hiking to the location compared with the temperature. My relevant temperature measurement isn’t the forecasted high temperature but rather how early it will hit one hundred degrees. The earlier the time of day, the less hiking I do. In those instances, I’ll fish the more readily accessible locations all along the lake.

 boulder-green sunfish-bluegill- copy

I always look for new fishing spots along the lake’s shore. If I’m on the lake and the heat’s a bit much, I’ll scout out new fishing spots for future trips. I recently began to explore the area in and around the Laguna Beach boat launch. I hope to have more in future reports.



community fishing sign  URBAN LAKE FISHING

The Urban Lake System, now the Community Fishing Program, provides easily accessible fishing; often within a driving distance of less than fifteen miles. or so. On days that I cannot spare sufficient travel time to the big waters, then I fish these more accessible lakes.

Health issues, drastically cut into our time to fish these lakes. There are; however, two items of distinction from this month.

Riverview-Mesa   Riverview Lake, Mesa, AZ

The first is our trip to the newly renovated Riverfront Lake in Mesa. This lake is not quite in “our neighborhood” as are Veterans Oasis, Water Ranch and Red Mountain, but I wanted to see it after its renovation. All I can say is, “Wow, what a great job!” The lake is beautiful and well planned. We caught a few small bass, but did see quite a few larger fish. I think in the coming months that I’l do a full feature and video on this renovated lake. Definitely worth the trip.

Red Mountain   Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, AZ

The second item of distinction occurred July 2nd. We were fishing Red Mountain Lake in Mesa. It was a hot morning. We were walking the bank, going back to the truck when we saw a huge catfish an inch or so away from and facing the concrete retaining wall. He was feeding on something. I’ve seen largemouth bass also do this. I can’t seem figure out either this behavior or what they’re feeding on. We had a few rods with a soft plastic grub, a rat-l trap and my fly rod with a big nymph. To avoid spooking the fish, I decided to throw the fly.

catfish-collage copy

I cast about six or seven times letting the fly hit the edge of the concrete. I would then ease it into the water. On about the eight cast, the fish took the fly and a twenty-plus minute fight was on! Di was able to get some really great video.

I hope you enjoy the new collage editor I downloaded, it is my goal to be able to show fish caught and fly or lure used in future submissions.

7--20-13 inch-asu_Fotor_Collage

In the photos and video we’re wearing uv protection shirts we purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Until the next submission, thanks for stopp’in by,

Sensei John

Sensei John

FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor   As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.00 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.00, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

Until the next submission, I remain,

1. Hemingway’s quote cane be found in my favorite book on “Papa” -Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (Nick Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 153, originally published as “A Situation Report” in Look magazine, September 4, 1956. For my review of this “must read’ please use this convenient link: https://flyfishingdojo.com/2010/07/26/hemingway-on-fishing/

You can follow the adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product – Fly Fishing Dojo Coffee Mug

Taking a coffee break from blogging and vlogging with the FFD logo coffee mug and FFD black and white baseball t-shirt.



sunsu-cactus   Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me



10 Jan

Before you read the report, get in the mood by watching our video of rainbow trout being stocked at Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, Arizona by clicking this  link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPHyCIdmStY

Stocking rainbow trout, Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, AZ

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, December, 2011, was a busy time here in the low desert. Holiday preparations and (fortunately) work kept me busy and not on the water as much as usual. There were some memorable mornings on the water that gave life to the saying, “Quality not quantity.” The morning of December 10th was a spectacular lunar eclipse that was truly memorable. In addition, several mornings I woke to unbelievable fog that enveloped my fishing experience in an erie aura.

Before I submit this month’s report, I found an interesting quote from Ernest Hemingway which you may wish to, shall we say, “chew on.”

Of course, it could never be considered an equal contest (between man & fish) unless the angler had a hook in his mouth, as well as the fish. But insistence on that might discourage the sporting fisherman entirely.” (See Endnote # 1)

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

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I am always amazed at the way this river changes with its seasonal use and functionality. The summer months see increased demand for the river’s water both for occupational (such as power and irrigation) and recreational use (such as fishing and most notably water float-tubing). After the heat of summer dissipates, flows are severely decreased and the hidden treasures of the river are, I believe, truly reveled. With the decreased flows, river accessibility greatly increased. Equally so, the ability to find and fish otherwise remote hotspots is made easy. Having said that, the decreased river flows can mean that stealth and caution when fishing may be needed.

For a point of comparison, here is a photograph taken in June from a video shoot for my Sanchin For Everyone DVD. (See endnote # 2).

Here is almost the same location this month.

You can see even more dramatic views of the Lower Salt River and listen to John Lennon’s stirring “Stand By Me” by clicking this video link to a promotional video used to promote the Sanchin DVD filmed at the Lower Salt River. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3MFNsl4mWg

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

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Due to other commitments, I spent little, if any time at Canyon Lake. As I type this report, I can only imagine the fishing opportunities that I missed. I look optimistically forward t next month and fishing this “big” lake. My optimism is buoyed by the rumor that improvements at Boulder Recreation Area have been completed and the area is again open.



Most of my fishing this month was at this, my favored, Urban Lake. The significance of the Urban Lake system is it’s ready access. Located in every major urban area, the lakes and surrounding parks provide easy and readily accessible access to the beauty of nature and through the stocking program reliable access to fish for the table.

Please see to it that the treasure of the urban lakes is not taken for granted; obey all applicable rules (including respecting areas off limits to fishing), don’t litter (there is nothing as intolerable as fishing debris) and respect the harvest quotas. I too love taking home a catfish or two in the summer months and a trout or two in the winter months. But, respect daily bag limits; there will always be more tomorrow or the next day for every fisherman if limits are respected.

      Trout for Supper    


Here’s a bit of video footage from Water Ranch Lake that I used to promote my Sanchin Kata To Improve Everyone’s Health Campaign. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

For more information of the physical & spiritual health benefits of Sanchin & how to purchase my economically priced 1 hour Sanchin DVD, please visit either my website: http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html or blog WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com – the blog also contains numerous articles and videos and is regularly updated.


I submit this video under the category of “just-for-the-fun-of-it”. It is a video of a Harley-Davidson Electra-glide motorcycle ride through the cotton fields of my neighborhood used as a promotion for my Sanchin For Everyone DVD. Give the following link a click, and “throw a leg over your bike” and come for a ride. Link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNbDxDHvlL8

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page or this link,http://www.cafepress.com/flyfishing_dojo This month’s featured product – THE FFD PUZZLE

FFD Logo Puzzle


1. Ernest Hemingway from: Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (Nick Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 148, originally published as “the Great Blue River” in Holiday magazine, July, 1949.

2. Here is a link to a FREE Sanchin For Everyone promotional video on You-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE  You can find information on how to purchase a Sanchin DVD & Book by clicking the following convenient link:http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html

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 follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.


15 Nov

Is physical conditioning applicable to fishing? The short answer is a resounding, “YES.” Further, I submit that an easy approach to physical conditioning is found in a Karate-based procedure known as “Sanchin.”

Sanchin Kata at the Lower Salt River, Arizona

As you may see in this video, filmed while fishing at Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert, Arizona, Sanchin is easily incorporated into your fishing regime.

I am always intrigued by the lack of physical conditioning of fisherman. Perhaps, the weekend angler may find an excuse in the fact that the sport of fishing, from his perspective, is merely an escape from the banality of the grind of everyday life. Assuming that such justification is correct, then, one may assume that at the opposite end of the fishing spectrum, that of the competitive tournament angler, the physicality of fishing would be of importance. Once again, I am surprised at how little a role one’s state of physical conditioning plays in fishing, even at this competitive level.

When I address physicality or the lack thereof, I refer to a minimum or slightly above minimum level of physical conditioning. I do not refer to athleticism in terms of being able to achieve physical feats above the status quo level of physical performance. Rather, I refer to the fact that many anglers fail to achieve their full fishing performance potential because they find themselves out-of-breath from a minimum level of physical exertion, suffering from aching joints, including the back, knees and ankles, from standing for so-called “extended” periods of time, suffering from aching shoulders, wrist and elbows from numerous casts and the like.

The question then, is how to achieve this level of physical conditioning without entering into a strict physical training regiment? Clearly, the stricter the training regiment, the less appealing it is to one who partakes of a “sedentary” activity such as fishing, even competitive fishing. The answer is relatively simple. First, maintain a physical existence in your daily life, second, physically prepare your self to fish, third, breath properly and efficiently and fourth have correct posture. Sanchin is the ONE procedure that incorporates all of these factors and more. Further, Sanchin takes less than three minutes to perform. SANCHIN can be performed regularly by ANYBODY, ANY PLACE and at ANY TIME. By instituting a simple regime of Sanchin, you will achieve an enhanced level of fishing-physicality.

I submit that if an angler pays attention to achieving a minimal level of physical conditioning, then the burden of the physicality of fishing will not impede their ability to achieve a level of performance that exceeds the stats quo. The idea that an angler should pay attention to the physicality of the sport of fishing is far from new or novel. Ernest Hemingway was not only a great writer, he was an avid outdoorsman and fisherman.

Big Game Fishing – a Hemingway favorite

He was acutely aware of the need, not for athleticism, but for good physical conditioning of fisherman. In an article entitled “The Great Blue River” published in 1949 in Holiday magazine, Hemingway had these observations and comments surrounding the state of big game fisherman.

. . . I have never lost a marlin nor a tuna to a shark. . . We try to fight them fast, but never rough. The secret is for the angler to never rest. Anytime he rests the fish is resting.

So now, say, you have this marlin down thirty feet, pulling as strong as a horse. . . He is as strong as a horse. Treat him like a horse. . . . You do not have to kill a horse to break him. You have to convince him, and that is what you have to do with a truly strong, big fish. . . To do this you have to be in good condition.

You have to be a fisherman, or at least in very good shape. . .  You don’t need to be an athlete. . You ought to be in good condition . . .

In almost any other sport requiring strength and skill to play or practice, those practicing the sport expect to now how to play it, to have at least moderate ability and to be in some sort of condition. In big game fishing they will come on board in ghastly shape, incapable of reeling in 500 yards of line, simply line, with no question of there being a fish on it, and yet full of confidence that they can catch a fish weighing twice or three times their weight. (See Endnote # 1).

Whether you are fishing from the shore, or a boat, fishing for trout or tarpon, you need to acquire a minimum degree of physical conditioning to enhance your fishing experience as a weekend angler, or “put more dollars in the livewell” as a competitive angler. Sanchin is an easy, convenient means of attaining that level of physical conditioning. Until the next article, I remain,

Sensei John


for purchase information, please visit my website at http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html


1. Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (Nick Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 146-149, originally published as “The Great Blue River” in Holiday magazine, July, 1949.

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.

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, please send a friend request on Facebook; see our “Video & Media” Page for more information.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


9 Sep

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, August, 2011, a record-breaking month for the State of Arizona. No, the largest fish wasn’t caught. August was the hottest month ever in the history of Arizona; there were 33 days all summer with temperatures exceeding 110 degrees. Reminds me of a quote by the literary and fishing master, Ernest Hemingway.

No one can work everyday in the hot months without going stale. To break up the pattern of work, we fish . . .  (See Endnote # 1).

For my part I mixed fishing pleasure with the business of filming my Sanchin Kata for non-martial artists DVD. I used various locations in Tonto National Forest, and my favorite fishing locations at the Lower Salt River, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake, as background for the videos. Here is a link to a free promotional video on You-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE

Well, with cooler months in the near future, let’s proceed with the “hot” fishing report.

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

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished several locations on the Lower Salt River that were not readily intruded upon by float tubers. These areas included up river from the Water Users Recreation Area and down river from Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area. Fly fishing produced small to mid-size largemouth bass, mostly on # 12 muddler minnows and a few on # 12 sparkle shad streamer. In both instances, I fished a nymph behind the streamer. The top producer for the month was a # 14 bloody mary nymph and a # 16 red serendipity nymph. There was definitely something about the color red provoking strikes in the bass.

Small bass on a Rebel Pop-R - up river from Water Users Rec Area

In addition, during filming of the DVD, the videographer had caught a few carp drifting a hook baited with corn kernels downstream. Something different to break up shooting video footage in one-hundred degree plus temperatures.

Filming video for the DVD at Phon Sutton. 106 Degrees but the river was cool.

Without a doubt, I am looking forward to being on the Lower Salt in cooler temperatures with decreased water flows and the return of rainbow trout stockings.

Di with another bass taken on a muddler minnow

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

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished my preferred locations, including Boulder Recreation Area, roadside locations along Highway 88 and the shoreline around the first one lane bridge with moderate success. Moderately sized panfish were prevalent with respectable catches of largemouth bass.

I even hooked into one catfish that, for whatever reason, known only to the fish itself was induced to strike at a # 12 apache lady wet fly. The whiskered fish eventually ducked under a log and broke my 5X tippet.

SAGUARO LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Due to the time constraints of shooting video, my only visits to Saguaro Lake were for filming purposes. Many a morning I looked longingly at the shoreline wishing I could flick a fly or two; but, alas, duty and responsibility called, and so, the task of the day was performing Sanchin for the video camera. Now that the DVD is completed and available to the public, my “irresponsible” self can again settle down to the task of fishing at this lake.

Tough fishing? Try the FFD STUNT FISH!


With the hectic video shooting schedule, I was only able to visit two of my favorite Urban Lakes. I’m anticipating cooler temperatures and the stocking of catfish starting in the middle of September by Arizona Fish and Game.


I feel I neglected regularly visiting my favorite lake in the Urban Lake system as I only fished it about twice. The best time was early morning when, in addition to bluegill, bass could be caught and released on a fly.

The most productive pattern proved to be a # 16 black serendipity tied in line behind a # 12 apache lady wet fly.


This lake seems to be recuperating from the harshness of July. Bluegill and small bass could be taken on various nymph and wet fly combinations. This seems to be a good indication of promising fishing to come in the cooler months.


BLOODY MARY BASS, a nice sized largemouth that decided to sample a bite of a # 14 bloody mary nymph. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COsXhjoKTc

SANCHIN KATA FOR FLY FISHERMAN: Filmed at Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert, AZ, this video was designed for the fly fisherman prior to the release of my Sanchin Kata DVD. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

FISHERMAN AS WARRIORS: For a very unique look at a historical aspect of fishing, you may wish to view “Fisherman As Warriors” by clicking this convenient link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

This months featured FFD logo product is shown below. With cooler temperatures forecasted for the coming months, I thought you may find a need to “heat things up.”

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John


  1. Ernest Hemingway from:Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (Nick Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 153, originally published as “As Situation Report” in Look magazine, September 4, 1956.

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.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product  FFD LOGO CLASSIC THONG

– only $ 9.99 plus delivery.

Here’s a convenient link: http://www.cafepress.com/flyfishing_dojo.459914580#

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.


19 Jan

Futanren is a term derived from Goshin-Do Karate. It is used to define one of three martial , combat-related, fears. The within shall explore Futanren as it applies to fly fishing. Futanren describes the fear derived from inadequate training. Training in this context can also be read as “preparation”; thus Futanren can be used to described fear derived from inadequate preparation. (See Endnote # 1).

Anytime you have hooked “The fish of a lifetime” and wondered, “Did I tie that knot properly?”, “Is my reel mechanically sound?’ and similar questions, you are engaging in Futanren. I think back to my early years of training in Goshin-Do Karate. My Sensei would use various means to motivate us. One of his favorites was to rhetorically ask, “If you knew you would be attacked by an assailant first thing tomorrow morning, how earnestly would you train (at the Dojo) tonight?” Sensei’s motivational question can be applied directly to fly fishing as follows, “If you knew that four days from now you would be fly fishing and HOOK the biggest fish of you life, what would you do now to prepare?”

The answer to the question invokes a related question, namely, “When would your preparation begin?” Would you begin to prepare now or wait until the fateful day that you will set out to your favorite water? Perhaps you would immediately begin to check the physical integrity of your fly fishing equipment. For example, you may inspect your fly rod for nicks or gouges on the guides that would cut into your leader or fly line. You may also inspect the fly line for signs of wear and tear. Your fly reel should be inspected for mechanical integrity. You may also choose to examine your older flies for soundness. Perhaps you would inspect all hook points and sharpen those that require sharpening. You may inspect the new flies to insure that eyes of the hook are free of dried head cement.  So, knowing that you would hook the fish of a lifetime, you engage in such preparation to avoid Futanren invading that momentous moment. But, is such preparation enough?

So far the analysis of the method of preparation has looked to the tools involved in the process of fishing. In addition, preparation would encompass external factors. These factors may include advance knowledge of the weather forecast so that one may properly dress. It may also include advance knowledge as to the tides in the case of salt water fishing. To be sure, advance preparation is limited only by the imagination of the fly fisherman and one’s individual comfort zone as to the extent of variables to be considered and prepared for.

As to the extent of tangental preparation, permit me to submit the following observation from perhaps the greatest fishing author there was, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway thought deeply about fishing. His thoughts, and advice, even extended to the type of breakfast one would eat prior to a long day of fishing for marlin.

There are two opposing schools about breakfast. If you knew that you were not going to be into fish (Marlin) for two or three hours, a good big breakfast would be the thing. Maybe it is a good thing any way but I do not want to trust it, so drink a glass of vichy, a glass of milk and eat a piece of Cuban bread, read the papers and walk down to the boat. I have hooked them on a full stomach in that sun and I do not want to hook any more of them that way. (See Endnote # 2).

If your preparation to meet the predestined encounter with a once in a lifetime fish is detailed and thorough; it is now time to ask, “Why not prepare in that manner prior to every fishing oddessy?” You may not have knowledge aforethought that you will hook a magnificent fish; but isn’t it better to prepare for each fishing adventure as if you did.

Preparation is the means of eradicating Futanren from your fly fishing. Such eradication will increase not only your productivity, but also your enjoyment of the overall fly fishing experience. Certainly you want to be able to hook that wonderfully majestic fish and  be fulfilled in the moment rather than be enveloped with Futanren.

Sensei John


1. There are two other identifiable martial fears, to wit: Kiki Oji: The fear of an enemy’s reputation and Mikuzure: The fear of an enemy’s appearance.

2.    Lyons, Nick, (editor), Hemingway On Fishing (The Lyons Press, New York, By, 2000), p. 102. There is a full review of this book on my weblog archived in the category “Sensei’s Reviews”.


16 Nov

I went fishing early this morning to clear my mind.

I wanted to placidly revisit this article. I hoped to transform a straightforward  tale of a good day spent on a river into a melody of words worthy of all who cast feathery little flies with the hope of seducing nature’s magnificent creatures to our offering. This was the result; “A good day of fishing?”

I arrived at a favorite fishing location along the Lower Salt River here in Arizona. Prior to casting, I stood upon a rock outcropping and performed my form of moving meditation, to wit: several Goshin-Do Karate Kata

The rock outcropping on top of which I performed Kata.

I performed several Kata with exotic names, Sanchin (Three Battles), Seienchin (Walk far to quell and conquer), Nami Kiribi (Cutting wave), Chinto (Crane on a rock) and Hakutsuru (White Crane). I finished. I was physically and mentally sound. This state of being reminded me of a quote by Ernest Hemingway, “All I must do now was to stay sound and good in my head until . . . I can start to work again.” (See Endnote # 1).

Being “sound and good in the head” I set about fly fishing. Then it happened. A simple mental glitch. Clarity of thought was invaded by clouds of a once slumbering sentiment awakened. In the end,  all that remained was a haunted shadow of a poem, a tanka. So, I’ll simply relay Sensei Bob’s dazzling fishing journey and leave you with the tanka. Maybe after enjoying Sensei’s Bob’s good day on a river, you can figure out the rest.

FLY FISHING DOJO’S New Jersey Contributor, Sensei Bob had recently spent a bountiful day on the Ramapo River. He had previously fished a certain location on the river to no avail. After several visits to this unfruitful location, he once again cast into its seemingly barren depths. Drawing upon his martial arts induced tenacity and his instinctive feel for nature, he knew this location would bear fruit. This past Saturday was the day. In less than thirty minutes he had caught and released three shimmering rainbow trout. All exceeded fifteen inches in length.

One of three of Sensei Bob's magnificent rainbow trout.

Sensei’s tenacity and instinct bore fruit; it did not fail him. I know Sensei felt a sense of natural redemption. A feeling that nature inured him with the ability to enter its domain and leave fulfilled with a pure sense of satisfaction. It was a good day of fishing on the Ramapo River.

I had hoped that my own fishing sojourn would intuitively formulate the words that would breath life into Sensei Bob’s day. Words that would coalesce into phrases that would capture the essence of triumphing over frustration; eventually seducing three majestic rainbow colored trout. Those words failed me. All I was left with is this tanka.

  • On a river
  • In a barren desert
  • A trout rises; a fly is cast.
  • A fisherman recalls
  • A moment in time
  • Best left forgotten.

In closing I remain, shrouded in the cocoon of thought, perhaps to be forgotten on another day, on another river. Another “Good day of fishing?”

Sensei John


1. Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (The Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 78 excerpting “The River” as appeared in A Moveable Feast.

Please feel free to shop the FLY FISHING DOJO online store by clicking on the “SHOP” page at the top of this weblog.

You may also wish to read Sensei John’s martial ideology weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


1 Oct
Arizona, September, 2010, Temperatures “cooled” to a high in the lower triple digits with cool mornings in the high seventy, low eighty degree range. With cooler morning temperatures, not only was fishing physically more enjoyable, but the results greatly improved. Unfortunately, during the last week of September, temperatures again surged to almost record high. The corollary increase in morning temperatures again resulted in smaller catches. I hope you enjoy the within journal as much as I enjoyed “researching” it. REMEMBER – ALL FISH WERE SAFELY RELEASED AFTER BEING PHOTOGRAPHED.
LOWER SALT RIVER, Maricopa County, AZ

Due to the Lower Salt River flowing too high and too fast for my tastes, I did not fish the river in September. For purposes of consistence in my fishing reports, here is the water flow chart for September from WWW.RiverMonitor.Com.


With the cooler morning temperatures, fishing in the urban lake system steadily improved throughout the month. Bluegill were plentiful and provided consistent fun on light fly equipment. My outfit of choice for these tempting little fish morsels remained my six foot Fenwick Ferrulite rod, a double taper, five weight floating line and a nine foot leader ending in a 7X tippet. It is axiomatic that bluegill readily take a fly. My flies of choice for these bluegill generally fell into the sub-surface category and involved fishing the flies double in a head to tail configuration. The specific sub-surface patterns that I favored were a # 14 McGinty, # 14 March Brown, # 14 San Juan Worm, # 16 Rainbow Warrior*, and # 16 Ju-Ju Bee*. There was also early morning action on dry flies. My patterns of choice consisted of a # 16 purple Haze*, # 16 Mosquito and a # 16 Adams Irresistible. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the patterns indicated by an asterisk (*), they may be obtained though Big Y Fly Co at WWW.BigYFlyCo.Com.

To my extreme gratification, Bass fishing greatly improved. In the beginning of the month, small bass could be taken on using the light fly tackle described above.

Early September, temperatures exceed 105 degrees.

As the month progressed, not only did the size of the largemouths increase, the tenacity with which they fought after being hooked amplified. After breaking a fair number of larger bass off the 7X tippet, I modified my fishing strategy. I began to bring two fly rods to the lakes. The first fly outfit I carried with me was the ultra-light outfit mentioned above. I supplemented that outfit with a sturdier outfit designed to catch a larger bass for photographing and subsequent release. My outfit of choice for these larger bass was my nine foot Sumo Distance XS fly rod casting a seven weight floating weight forward line with a nine foot leader ending in a 4X tippet.

Slowly, the size of bass caught increased.

I employed two strategies to find and catch the bass that these lakes had to offer. The first strategy was to locate bluegill using the lighter tackle. Inevitably the excitement of the hooked bluegill would draw a larger bass out of cover. Once a larger bass was sighted, I switched to my heavier tackle. The second strategy was to walk the lake shore with the Sumo XS at the ready and sight fish for bass. This sight fishing strategy is similar to wading salt water flats and sight fishing, only instead of wading, it involves walking the soil and/or concrete walkways of my urban lakes. Again, similar to the salt water flats, once a bass is sighted, an exacting cast, with accurate and delicate presentation often resulted in the satisfaction of a bass hook-up.

I used this sign as an impromptu measuring device before releasing this bass.

My flies of choice for the larger bass included # 14 Wooly Bugger (in caret color), # 12 Muddler Minnow, # 12 Lite Brite Zonker*, # 12 Alexander*, # 14 San Juan Worm and # 10 Silver Epoxy Minnow Streamer. Again, I fished these flies double. I also had a few heart stopping thrills using a dry # 14 Foam Dragonfly. The colors blue and tan produced the best. The dragonfly had to be well presented with no ripple to be effective. When so presented the strikes were fast and almost instantaneous. Once the fly hit the water – Bam, the game was afoot.

Bass could not resist a well presented Foam Dragonfly.

Arizona Fish and Game stocked catfish during the week of September 20th and provided bait fisherman with ample opportunity to take home a catfish or two. Anglers are encourage to selectively harvest the catfish. Di was able to catch a few that we subsequently harvested. The meat of these fish was clean and tasty.

Di before releasing this urban catfish.

With the sun setting earlier in the sky, I began to fish the Urban Lakes at sunset. Ernest Hemingway once observed that “The setting of the sun is a difficult time for all fish” (See Endnote # 2). Perhaps this is so because, as the sun descends to sleep, fish shed natural inhibition and will readily take a well presented fly, or even, artificial lures.

           Bass at Sunset          

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ (See Note # 1)

Early in the month was the start of dove hunting season. I spent many early mornings on this lake casting to the rhythmic pow-pow of hunters shooting at their tasty quarry. Mid-month early mornings provided the slightest whiff of steam coming off the lake close to the reed beds. Bass fishing was somewhat sporadic with some mornings being better than others. The morning of September 14th provided me with a classic example of how the martial arts state of mind called “Mushin” can be of benefit to fly fisherman. Using this state of mind, I was treated to sight-fishing two back-to-back largemouths as I walked the lake shore. The subject of the martial arts state of mind called “Mushin” and fly fishing will be addressed in my next article.

Bass loved a Muddler Minnow.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ (See Note # 1)

Fly fishing this lake was satisfying with consistent catches of bluegill and a few small bass. In addition, I was privileged to view nature’s spectacular awakening and subsequent slumber at sun rise and sunset.

Nature prepares to sleep at the Water Ranch.

The magnificence of nature’s display was diminished by the increasing amount of trash and waste being left lakeside by those that pretend to call themselves “fisherman”. No-one who takes the noble title of “fisherman” would denigrate the sport with such lazy, selfish acts of pollution. The sad part is that these lazily, slovenly lake visitors carried the trash with them and after use, simply discarded it. Garbage consisted of off-the-shelf fishing rod cases, folding chairs, worm containers and an assortment of drinking bottles. In one instance, a broken chair was thrown into the lake. The people that left their garbage certainly are not qualified to call themselves “fisherman”. They clearly have no idea of what it feels like to loose a natural resource to careless pollution. Stop for a minute and think about what this particular park would be like if the lake was too polluted to fish in, and the trails were over run by garbage and the vermin that seeks such garbage. Look well.


RED MOUNTAIN LAKE, Mesa. AZ (See Note # 1)

This lake was the slowest of all lakes in the urban system that I visited. Perhaps this was due to fishing pressure or perhaps due to limited catch and release philosophy. I do not know the exact cause. I like to think that October will be better for this lake.


This small lake, or perhaps I should say pond reminds one of a backyard swimming pool. It is one of the most fruitful ponds for fishing excitement for its limited size.

Having said that, it MUST be nurtured and cared for. There must be careful resource management and a MANDATORY catch and release policy for this pond to continue to temporarily surrender it‘s bounty. Enjoy it as you will, but, please think of the future and carefully release all fish from this facility.

Sensei John takes a line from the Godfather movie - not quite "Sleeping With The Fishes".


September 20th was my first visit to this lake. I visited it a few times thereafter. It produced bluegill consistently. I also had a thrill of catching a carp on a # 14 Rainbow Warrior but “quick-released” it about a foot from shore. I will continue to explore this lake in the coming weeks.

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John


1. These lakes are part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. The program which provides man-made fishing lakes in close proximity to major population centers is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

2. From, Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man And The Sea, (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 1952), p. 73. Also Hemingway On Fishing, Lyons Nick (Editor), (Nick Lyons Pres, New York, NY, 2000) p. 222. You may see my review of Hemingway On Fishing by clicking on the Sensei’s Reviews category.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo logo wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


26 Jul
BOOK REVIEW: Hemingway On Fishing, Lyons, Nick (Editor), (Nick Lyons Pres, New York, NY, 2000).
New rating system:  This book rates a
 karate-belt-black    Black Belt, a must-have!!
 Old rating system:
TORII RATING: (Please see the description of my Torii Ratings System on the prior page of this category) 
 5 Torii – A MUST HAVE
But if you land a big (fish) . . . Fight him man against fish when your muscles are nauseated with the unceasing strain, and you finally bring him (in), you will be purified and able to enter unabashed into the presence of the very elder gods and they will make you welcome. . . . For the cheerful, brown-faced gods that judge over the happy hunting grounds live up in the old crumbly mountains that wall the bright blue bay of Vigo. They live there wondering why the good, dead fisherman don’t come down to Vigo where the happy hunting grounds are waiting. (See Endnote # 1).
Ernest Hemingway. The name invokes thoughts of an iconoclastic writer. Invariably when one is asked to name one of Hemingway’s works, perhaps because of the memorable movie adaptation starring Spencer Tracy, one would name The Old Man And The Sea. Maybe one would recall A Moveable Feast or perhaps The Sun Also Rises. Few; however, would recall the plethora of articles, letters and notes Hemingway wrote on the topic of fishing. He wrote profusely on fishing in all its varied forms, including fly-fishing. There was a time when Hemingway‘s tales of fishing adventure were cast to the literary winds. That has been remedied.
  This product review discusses a wonderful hardcover compilation of Hemingway’s fishing stories entitled Hemingway On Fishing. It is edited by Nick Lyons with a foreword by Jack Hemingway. This tome, it is far too wonderful to merely be called a “book” was first published in 2000 by The Lyons Press, New York, NY.

I was given this book from my youngest daughter, and one of my Black Belts, Sensei Kimberly Szmitkowski, as a Christmas gift in 2000. It has never left my coffee table. Unlike the many other books I have read and stored on a shelf of my library, perhaps to re-read again and again, this marvelous compellation is always at hand. Like a fishing Bible, it is one of the few books that you can refer to a passage or two, or even a full story, daily.

Hemingway is the personification of the phrase “Soul-fisherman”. He looks at fishing as not simply a pursuit, by a way of life. From his earliest days fly-fishing to his later years spent hunting the mighty salt water game fish off the coast of Cuba, and his final return to his fly-fishing roots late in life, Hemingway’s tales recount the simple act of casting an anticipatory lure, attached to a fisherman through a hair-like line as if telling a mythological tale or a heroic battle, or a Shakespearean play. In some of his tales Hemingway analyzes fishing and more importantly the act of preparing to fish with scientific precision. Take for example the following excerpt from the short story, Marlin Off The Morro: A Cuban Letter, containing Hemmingway’s recommendation of a preferred breakfast to be eaten before fishing.

There are two opposing schools about breakfast. If you knew you were not going to be into fish for two or three hours, a good, big breakfast would be the thing. Maybe it is a good thing anyway but I do not want to trust it, so drink a glass of vichy, a glass of cold milk and eat a piece of Cuban bread, read the papers and walk down to the boat. I have hooked them on a full stomach in that sun and I do not want to hook any more of them that way.(See Endnote # 2)

In addition to such analysis, Hemingway’s tales are filled with human emotion, sarcasm, wit, humor, introspection and reflection. The following is an excerpt from an article that first appeared in 1923 in the Toronto Star Weekly, where Hemingway uses his acerbic sense of humor to mock those that transformed the purity of fly-fishing into nothing more than an ostentatious show of materialism.

Bill Jones went to visit a French financier who lives near Deauville and has a private trout stream. The financier was very fat. His stream was very thin. . . If undressed and put back on the shelf piece by piece the financier would have stocked a sporting goods store. Placed end to end his collection of flies would have reached from Keokuk, Illinois to Paris, Ontario. The price of his rod would have made a substantial dent in the interallied debt or served to foment a central American revolution. . . The financier flung a pretty poisonous fly. (See Endnote # 3).

Hemingway also used his keen sense of observation to admonish those that were then and still are ambivalent to the magnificent quarry pursued by our beloved art of fly-fishing. Here is one example from Big Two Hearted River, Part II which is excerpted in Hemingway On Fishing.

He had wet his hands before he touched the trout, so he would not disturb the delicate mucus that covered him. If a trout was touched with a dry hand, a white fungus attacked the unprotected spot. Years before when he had fished crowded streams, with fly fisherman ahead of him and behind him, Nick had again and again come upon dead trout, furry with white fungus, drifted against a rock, or floating belly up in some pool. Nick did not like to fish with other men on the river. Unless they were of your party they spoiled it. (See Endnote # 3)

This treasured Hemingway compilation also contains 32 black and white photographs of Hemmingway fishing throughout the years starting with a picture of Hemingway, at age 3, from fishing off a dock along Walloon Lake through many years of fly-fishing, the years fishing off the coast of Cuba from his boat the Pilar, to a last photograph with a great Marlin taken in 1948.

For reasons often speculated at, but known only to him, Hemingway ended his life on July 2, 1963 in Idaho. This wonderful, perhaps miraculous, compilation, will allow the spirit of Hemingway, The Fisherman to live on forever. Whether you be a fly-fisherman, a saltwater game fisherman, weekend angler, or simply walk the same Earth as such fisherman, this is a MUST read. 



1. Id. P. 90 (Edited for review purposes).

2. Id. P. 102.

3. Id. P. 95.

4. Id. P.17.

%d bloggers like this: