A rainbow trout I fished in Lake Ashinoko in 1970. At that time no one knew rainbow trout lived there. The dorsal fin was cut off together with the mark on it. This fish completely changed my image of rainbow trout.
Beautiful Fish --- The Fishing of my Dream
Steelhead--- the name gave me some expectations. Later I learned this mysterious name came from the grey colour of its head. But I could not wipe the image of strong iron away from the fish and just saying the name made me excited.
My first Steelhead, which was caught in 1971, was about 10lb. I had to say ‘only 10lb’ but not ‘as big as’ 10lb. Although it was not so big, I felt it was completely different from coho salmon or Dolly Varden. I had no doubt that it was a beautiful fish of my dream.
Several years after the young are set in the river, rainbow trout grow up very well with a little bait.
My first fishing abroad gave me a good reward. I encountered Steelhead for the first time, which became my target. But only one fight with a small Steelhead gave me a very limited knowledge. If I had had as many experiences and technical know-how as today, only one catch would have taught me a lot of things and, alas, my fishing would have developed in a very different way.
However, ‘If--’ story is just a poor excuse. Every technique and know-how need a lot of practice. There is no easy method to master it. I should not cry for the moon.
Yamame trout in the source area. Although it is small, it has the air of a great fish.
"I'm a master of this river." Trophy sized yamame trout in the mountain stream is great enough to say so.
It was impossible to fish king salmon, coho salmon or Steelhead in Japan because none of those is here. But even if they had been here I could not have caught any. I did not know how to fish. I had no tackle or fly, either. Even if I had had, I did not know how to use them properly, as my fishing in Canada showed. At that time it was just my dream to fight with those fish.
Anyway, my first Canadian tour taught me I should learn much more. It also gave me a good chance to think over my fishing. Gradually my desire to get a big fish, a beautiful and smart fish became stronger. But it was useless just to pray for that. First of all, I sought after the biggest possible fish in Japan. I concentrated on getting the biggest fish of the kind, just as in my early days. Somehow I felt that was the only way to realize my dream fishing.
Is this fish really a char? Char looks very different according to its living conditions.
In the first half of 1970’ I preferred casting dry fly with the short rod in mountain streams.
I wanted to catch the biggest yamame trout and the biggest char. I looked for the special spots where big fish stayed. At the same time, in ordinary mountain streams I wanted to catch ‘the master fish’ even though it was not especially big. Well, I felt strange to see my own fishing from far away. I was happy to get only 25cm yamame trout, which looked like the master fish in the small bushy stream but disappointed to get 35cm yamame trout in the Katsura River I dropped by later on my way home.
The Katsura River, the Oshino River and Lake Motosu, my home ground spots in those days, were in exceptional circumstances. Spring water from Mt. Fuji was the source of the Oshino River and it flowed into the Katsura River and Lake Motosu. In those areas fish grew up very rapidly. Both yamame trout and brown trout grew up to be over 25cm in a year after they hatched. Both became 40cm in 2 and a half years. Particularly in Lake Motosu they grew up to be 35cm in a year, 50cm in 2 years and in the quickest cases 70cm within 4 years. Fishing in those spots paralysed my sense of fish size. Trophy sized yamame trout was a giant fish in small bushy streams, really the trophy fish in ordinary mountain streams but only a parr in the Oshino River.
A char I caught in the area where it is limit of range. It has something mysterious and awesome.
I Want to Fish in a Beautiful Style
Such an unusual sense of fish size formed my concept of ‘a beautiful fish’ ‘a smart and appealing fish’. In short, my beautiful fish meant a smart fish as the master at the top of the shoal or an awesome and dignified fish that overwhelmed anglers even if not especially big. Needless to say, a giant fish was also categorized as a beautiful fish in my mind.
I wanted to fish those fish. I knew well it was very difficult but I wanted to fish at any cost because of difficulty. I mastered all technical know-how and developed my casting technique. I also tried any new idea as soon as it came to my mind.
As I tried various types of fishing from my childhood, I had learned various kinds of the most effective methods from many senior masters and professional fishermen. I often hit upon totally unexpected ideas, too. By the way, if I had taken any method to get my dream fish, it would not have been so difficult. But I had a strong resolution to catch my target fish, following fly fishing rules. I wanted to get big fish but I did not want undignified fishing. That was the same as you do not like aiming at cows in the stock farm with rifle or aiming at hens with shotgun.
-- To be continued --