Huge Fish of Mountain Streams
From my childhood I had a vague taste for beautiful fish. Later I concentrated on fly fishing and had a clear idea of those fish. Or that might be opposite. My admiration to beautiful fish might guide me to fly fishing.
I had never written about my preference for beauty until I wrote "Huge Fish of Mountain Streams in Japan" (published by Futaba Co., in 1988, now out of print). The book was published over 15 years after my first Canadian tour. I described my sense of beauty in fishing and fish I had long kept in my mind. Probably some of you read the book but let me summarize the preface as follows.
I walked into the source area and fished an amago trout the farthest upstream. It was only 32cm but had an air of the master of the deep pool.
My fishing spot spread farther downstream after I aimed at big fish. The Ani River in the middle of 1980'.
Fishing as 'Beauty' Seeking
I like beautiful things. They make a deep impression on all the living creatures. There are countless beautiful things in the nature, living creatures and art. But it is only a few of them that are really beautiful. They are beautiful because of rarity. A Chinese character of 'beauty' consists of 'big' and 'sheep'. It means an outstandingly big sheep that leads hundreds of sheep. The origin of the word gives me a clearer image of beauty.
In my mind fishing never separated from sense of beauty. I looked at every thing from that perspective. I want to get beautiful fish and to fish in a beautiful style. Those ideas never left me.
A rainbow trout in the Katsura River. Probably 2 years passed after it was set in the river. When you hook this sized fish, the backing line appears from the rod tip within 10 seconds.
A char I caught in the deepest part of a tributary of a tributary of the Chikuma River. It is an ordinary trophy sized char but looks somehow wild.
Although I tried various kinds of fishing from my childhood, I have been completely absorbed in fly fishing for these 20 years. Why, I wondered sometimes.
'Fly fishing has beauty in its every part.' That was the biggest reason that persuaded me. First of all, fly is beautiful, which attracts me before fishing. Then I catch my target fish, which proves my fly choice was right, and the fly looks farther brilliant than before.
The line sends the fly to the point with my dream and expectation. The line flies in a beautiful curve. The more beautifully the line flies, the more properly it sends the fly.
Finally fish itself is one of the most beautiful living creatures. Trout and salmon are especially beautiful. The big ones among them that lead a shoal and look like the master of the stream are not only fascinating and awesomely beautiful but also lofty and solitary. They are like tigers or cheetahs in wild animals and eagles or hawks in wild birds. They are extraordinarily beautiful. It is nothing but 'a big sheep'.
An amago trout that was awoke from winter sleep by the snow melting water. It regains its strength rather well but still keeps winter colour.
Since then I had more opportunities to fish mountain streams with abundant water with wet fly.
How is fishing when anglers aim at such big fish? Big fish are rare and difficult to catch. Anglers are superior to ordinary sized fish in the game of fishing. But they are not superior to big fish, the great opponents Unless they face big fish with all their technique for fly fishing, keeping all patience and tension, they will hardly know whether the big fish really stay there or not. Anglers who seek after their targets in spite of those difficulties are not happy people because they can not be satisfied no matter how many ordinary sized fish they catch. However, it would be splendid if they got a trophy fish as a winner of the game. Moreover, various fishing techniques they master to realize their ideal fishing and the fishing world they develop are very beautiful.
I hope this book will help anglers who prefer only one trophy sized yamame trout to one hundred ordinary ones.
A yamame trout in early summer. It is much more than 30cm and takes an air of cherry salmon.
I wrote in that preface that big fish is beautiful and fly fishing is beautiful. To be exact, I wrote my expectations. All anglers must say big fish are beautiful. Fly fishing is beautiful, that is my hope in large part. Needless to say, that is not my original idea. Fly fishing was brought up by the people with such thought, philosophy and belief.
To form my idea I learned from Leon Chandler, Jim Hardy, Charles Ritz, John Veniard and so on. I also learned their philosophy. It was quite natural they had very sophisticated ideas because they were all epoch-making anglers. What made me most surprised was that most of guides, lodge owners to whom I owed so much abroad and most of anglers I met during fishing kept their fly fishing in beautiful style.
Doing anything to catch fish is not sport or hobby. Beautiful fishing needs some effort. That was what I wrote in a postscript in that book. I wrote that as a warning to myself and also a future guide for myself.
-- To be continued --