Cherry Salmon • The First Stage  --Vol.45--


That flow has something mysterious. If this pool has a cherry salmon it will definitely stay there. In that way I had guessed what spot to fish, which turned out to be right three successive times. It sounded too good to be true. Why could I make right guesses so often? I felt happy as if I had finally come to the heaven through a long troubled way.

But I had no time to enjoy my success. Of course I was very pleased to catch fish but happier to fish properly for such long hours.

Later I learned that the river conditions were exceptionally bad in my first two years and this year had normal one. But I did not know at this stage. Therefore I wanted to cast the fly as many times as possible before the river turned into muddy water or disappeared. Actually I walked on the bank, looking for mysterious flow as if I had been possessed by some spirits.
Medium water in the pool of the front of kindergarten. Soon I will reach the core part.

I spent much time in taking photos of my third cherry salmon. It was almost noon. While we were taking lunch at our favourite restaurant with the fishing companions we talked about the plan for the afternoon. As a cherry salmon was caught in the morning again, no one was in the mood to spend much time with lunch.

The river had medium water for this season. Almost all pools flowed very attractively. They all looked hopeful.
In the morning all of three anglers except me had been fishing upstream. In the afternoon they all were scattered downstream.

I headed for Gomatsu Bridge alone.
A cherry salmon came to my foot. It looked always beautiful from any angle.

The Marker of Willow Boughs

I stopped the car and watched upstream from the bridge. It was peaceful scenery. Far ahead of the long pool of the front of kindergarten there was the pool of Hatayaura, where I caught cherry salmon the last week. How beautifully the river flows! There was no one in such a nice pool as far as I could see.

I said to no one but wanted to fish that pool in front in the afternoon. Fortunately there was no angler around because of no catch in the morning. I knew that but was still worried until I really saw the river.

I crossed the bridge and parked on the embankment ahead of the shrine. My heart was pounding so bitterly that I had a pain in my chest even before I reached the bank.

"Calm down, calm down,"I said to myself while I walked on the embankment with the rod on my shoulder.
Walking 100m, I watched the large pool below the embankment again. I could not imagine more desirable water level. The current of the head of the pool became wide in the centre and formed very naturally the end of the pool. The pool of the front of kindergarten looked most attractive now. Needless to say, there was the mysterious flow I was looking for. It was so clearly that no one would have missed it.
A cherry salmon with solid scales. It seemed that many days had passed since it came upstream.

How many times have I walked on this embankment? I had completely memorized the shape of a wax tree on the way down and the spaces between tetrapods on the ground. I had fished this pool most often since I came to the Kuzuryu River. The most beautiful pool like it was formed for fly fishing. I wanted to fish cherry salmon here by all means. I could not say I had fished the Kuzuryu River without getting some in this pool.

My attachment to this pool made me tremble with excitement. Finally I was standing on the bank with such expectation.

I walked into waist-high water a little downstream to the head of the pool. I checked the water below me again. Then I took pink-blue Aquamarine from the hook keeper and extended the line. A strong wind in the morning died down and it was completely calm. Probably I was deaf to anything but the sound of reversing reel.

I made the first casting. Then I kept casting instinctively. I fished down, keeping an eye on the willow boughs on the opposite bank I had found as the marker. After each casting the marker came nearer. Finally I reached the core part. Waiting for the line extended towards the opposite bank to disappear in the water, I retrieved Flat Beam on the right moment. I enjoyed feeling some tension from the line. At every retrieving my heart beat faster. I heard no sound. I saw no scenery. All I was looking at was the line extended to one point downstream.
I caught a cherry salmon in my favourite pool. It was the greatest joy.

Deep Emotion

Electricity ran down my hands. Something was struggling violently at the end of the tightened line. Instinctively I raised the both hands and cried, “A fish!”

Fighting followed like a dream. All I remembered was that the fish ran away repeatedly after it came to my foot and it took me ages to land it.

The moment I scooped it into the net I came to myself. Deeply moved, I cried to the river although no one heard me, “I’ve got it. Finally I’ve got it!”

Kneeling down in front of the fish on the waterfront, I gazed at the cherry salmon. It was beautiful. The flow of the pool of the front of kindergarten, the fishing process, everything looked beautiful.

I caught first 3 cherry salmon, feeling as if I had been in a dream. I was really happy to get the 4th one. I could realize for the first time I caught cherry salmon, my dream fish.
The fish had its own face and look.

No Lure?

I caught 2 cherry salmon in a day in 2 successive weeks. The news spread and anglers were excited. A lot of them rushed up to the Kuzuryu River at breakneck speed. Among them only Mr. Shohei Katoh caught a cherry salmon and found new points, performing his real ability. I used to go fishing with him to Canada and Tasmania as well as the Takahara River. We knew each other very well. His fishing skill was very excellent.

When we were fishing together, we heard from a local resident that lure fishing was going to be banned from the Kuzuryu River. We wanted to know more precisely but no one could answer clearly. There was a rumor that the commercial fishermen’s cooperative planned to ban lure fishing because cherry salmon were caught contrary to their expectations.

It is no use worrying about the rumor. I asked the commercial fishermen’s cooperative and learned that they were really going to ban lures. But I could not understand the reason for the ban at all.

It’s no joke! I proposed to the anglers around there that we should ask for stopping the ban because many anglers were enjoying lure fishing. But most of anglers who had complained about the ban said that we could fish secretly or that silence would be the better way. In the end Mr. Shohei Katoh and I were going to talk to the fishermen’s cooperative.
Moving on the embankment, Mr. Shohei Katoh and I watched the pool condition.

We could talk with a new chairman at our 2nd visit. We told him that we had been enjoying cherry salmon fishing not with lure but fly and that we hoped that lure fishing that was not illegal would not be banned. At first I found there was some misunderstanding between us. He said that a lot of members demanded the ban of lure because lure fishing destroys river and is dangerous when they stand in the river to fish sweet fish.

His explanation sounded strange but soon I understood him. In the Kuzuryu River there had long been some poachers of cherry salmon. They had not only fished in a marine preserve but also cast some pairs of huge treble hooks to hook up cherry salmon on their back instead of mouth. Such huge treble hook was usually used for catching striped mullet in the sea. This method was called Gang by local anglers. Lure has treble hook and was confused with poacher’s hook.

We felt relieved that the chairman got the right idea of lure. Otherwise lure ban would have been decided. Once the rule is made, it is very difficult to abolish it. You must know a lot of examples.

The chairman not only gave his willing consent to our demands but also promised to help us promote cherry salmon fishing. In the next year fishing ticket system of cherry salmon was introduced here for the first time in Japan. Fishing ticket said cherry salmon fishing was allowed only with lure or fly. He made an epoch-making decision!

-- To be continued --
2002/03/24  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake