Cherry Salmon • The First Stage  --Vol.37--

Low Water

2 weeks later I headed for the Kuzuryu River again to fish cherry salmon. It was the second week of May. It was hot in Tokyo like early summer. I hoped that snow had melted in Hokuriku district and the river had fallen to medium water. I drove on the motorway during the night and arrived at the embankment of the front of kindergarten at the break of dawn. The eastern sky was growing light and the morning was coming soon. There was no sufficient time to sleep but took my time to prepare for fishing.

When I joined 15ft rod named Landlock it got almost light enough to see the scenery.

Praying that the river had medium water, I watched the water. I felt something strange. Although it was not clear due to remaining darkness the white bank seemed to spread out. What happened with the river?
Terrible low water at the pool of the front of kindergarten in the Kuzuryu River. The most part of the large bank completely appeared from the water.

A White Bank

While I was staring at the river it was getting lighter and lighter. When I saw the whole scenery clearly I could not believe my eyes. There was no river. What had been found white was dry river bottom. The bank spread over the whole area of the front of kindergarten and the river was flowing only near the opposite bank.

The scenery was utterly beyond my expectation. I was upset but still wanted to go to the river. Finishing preparation, I walked on the embankment.

I walked down it from the same spot as the previous time. The grass was dry even before sunrise. Sometimes an uncomfortably warm wind blew on my cheek.

I passed through the thickly growing grass and got to the bank. Mud on the stones was dried whitish. I wondered how many days had passed since the water fell. I tried to find my standing point on the previous time. Then I found the plants I remembered well were growing side by side not far away from the grass. Oh, dear! Not only my previous standing point but also the area where my fly had been swimming were dried up.
Hatayaura pool was changed into a pond. The scenery looked suitable for fishing crucian carp.

I walked on the bank to look around. I felt as if I were the first person to walk on the moon. Pool of the front of kindergarten had already been changed into a pond and water was hardly flowing. The spot whose depth I had guessed from far away was found rather flat and shallow. The fast current was farther upstream. The head of the pool went upstream near Hatayaura.

I walked upstream along the water. I kept walking until my car on the embankment was seen small. Then I could see the fast current flowing. But the water amount was too small. Probably even the Takahara River in Gifu had more water now. I was in no mood to fish cherry salmon. The water temperature was 16 degs C. Do cherry salmon stay here? Probably they went far away upstream after I left here 2 weeks before.
A channel stretching upstream from Hatayaura changed like this. I could not believe it had once been a rapid stream.

Wet Fly

I stood in the middle of the fast current and opened my fly box. But I hesitated to use large flies I had prepared. I opened my wet fly box and picked up size 6 Peacock Queen. That meant I chose the same fly as in the Takahara River.

At my third casting I got a clear bite unexpectedly, which surprised me. But it was not a strong pull. No hope of a cherry salmon.

I pulled the line. A Japanese dace of 30cm came underfoot. Japanese dace stay here, too! But my excitement did not last long because I caught them every time I cast the fly after that. I got repeated bites during one fly drifting across the stream. At first I got a bite near the bank and later often at the heart of the stream, which meant there was no bigger fish there. I fished down to the deepest spot and gave up fishing.
At low water bog moss on the stone is dried whitish.

What happened with the river? I had prayed for medium water on the previous time but now I wondered where so much water had gone. It would be useless to look for another fishing point in such low water. Anyway I was given a good opportunity to learn about the bottom. I drove upstream to Hatayaura.

Large Hatayaura pool was also changed into a pond. Concrete blocks on the left bank were completely dried up and lay over the whole bank. But some of them were still in the water. A big block appeared from the water near the heart of the stream a bit downstream. It must be an ideal point at medium water.

The head of the pool formed a fast current. But it was so shallow from the ditch end on the left bank to upstream that cherry salmon would hardly stay.

Now I came back to the road to see downstream. Then I found the lost water. So much water was flowing in the channel along the road. It was beyond imagination such large amount of water was taken from the barrier of Naruka.

If only this water was returned to the river! Well, I am a selfish angler now.
Only a few anglers recognized this spot as a pool under a power transmission line. Tetrapods on the bank are usually under water at medium water.

The pool under a power transmission line was also changed into a poor pond. Some tetrapods were under water here, too, which lay just at the upper reaches of the tail of the pool. It would be an ideal point at medium water, too.

I drove farther downstream to watch some points from the embankment or bridge. To my surprise, almost all pools were dotted with rocks and tetrapods. Only adequate water would change them into attractive pools. I was terribly disappointed by low water.

There was no piece of snow left on the nearby mountains and temperature was high during the day. It was clear the cherry salmon season had been over.

I was obliged to leave the lonely bank and headed for Gifu through my old route.

My first year challenge in the Kuzuryu River was over. I had no chance of proper fishing, so I could not get any necessary information about fishing method, suitable flies, the highest season and so on. Nevertheless I felt happy to walk on the large bank alone and cast the fly, standing in the wide stream. Even in Canada, I had to worry about my next morning point. But now the whole river in view was exclusive to me.

-- To be continued --
2002/01/27  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake