Cherry Salmon • The Second Stage  --Vol.60--

My Report in a Magazine

In the end of 1988 I wrote in a magazine "Angling" that I caught cherry salmon with fly. I wrote how to fish, what fly to use or what sort of river condition I caught them in. I hoped that a lot of readers would be able to catch beautiful cherry salmon.

As far as a few anglers are fishing at the limited areas, a small amount of information spreads through many years. If more anglers go fishing throughout the country, new areas, suitable months and the effective way of fishing will spread quickly. And more important thing is that more anglers in Japan will be able to enjoy Power Wet Fly Fishing, which means fly fishing with shooting head.

My article created a sensation. A lot of readers wrote letters to the magazine that they were absolutely amazed.
The photo of cherry salmon created a sensation among various people.

The most amazing thing for readers was that there were cherry salmon, so beautiful and big fish, in Japan. Cherry salmon are salmon but their young are called yamame trout, which are admired as queen fish in Japanese mountain streams. If you catch a 30cm-long yamame trout in a little mountain stream it is called a trophy size one. It is very difficult to fish it.

Anglers used to celebrate when they caught a trophy size yamame trout although we cannot imagine today because fly fishing in the main streams has become quite common.

Cherry salmon are twice as big as trophy size yamame trout. How difficult it is to fish them! I called a cherry salmon a double-trophy-size yamame trout in the magazine.

The name came to my mind while I was fishing her---cherry salmon are usually female---and the name was one of factors to create a sensation.
A trophy size yamame trout. A dream fish for anglers in mountain streams for many years.

The next amazing thing was the big fishing spots. Apart from those who had experience of fishing Steelhead or salmon abroad, many anglers thought that fly fishing was impossible in such big spots in my photos.

However, if you prepare well you will be able to enjoy fly fishing in big rivers. Soon a lot of Japanese anglers found new fishing spots in the neighbourhood by practicing Power Wet Fly Fishing.
Fishing spot is extremely big beyond most fly fishermen's imagination.

A Protest Letter

Soon after my article was reported in the magazine, however, an angler in Hokuriku District wrote a long protest letter. He said, in short, it was illegal to fish cherry salmon: he could not overlook that kind of offence in his river, the Kurobe River: moreover, the photos of the river and cherry salmon appeared: he could not bear either the writer or the publisher.

I had worried so many people believed that cherry salmon fishing was prohibited. That was why I had reported my research in the article that cherry salmon fishing was legal as well as other trout, except for several districts like Hokkaido or Niigata.

He denied my report. He somehow recognized my photos of the Kuzuryu River as the Kurobe River. Needless to say, there was no mention or photo of the Kurobe River in my article. Why did he make such a misunderstanding? Why did he send such an irrational protest letter? I could not understand.

Unfortunately, as a lot of anglers started enjoying cherry salmon fishing, the same protests were made here and there.

Cherry salmon might stir people's emotion. There was great trouble between those who welcomed cherry salmon fishing and those who protested it, whether they were anglers, journalists, professional fishermen or government officers.

More than 10 years passed. Although there are still some districts where anglers are not welcomed, more and more anglers are enjoying cherry salmon fishing. I am happy to say that the time has changed.
There is such a beautiful fish in the Japanese river. It is a yamame trout of 60cm.

When Do Cherry Salmon Come Upstream from the Sea?

In January 1989 I was preparing for the new season. I had had no idea when to start for the last 3 years. So I had started when the river conditions looked all right. I had had no definite reason.
I sometimes worry that there is no fish in the river in early spring.

In the last year, my third year, I caught the first cherry salmon in the beginning of April. It did not mean that I had no catch before April in spite of my effort but poor conditions did not allow me to fish earlier. Fortunately, my fishing lasted just before the opening day of fishing sweet fish, which taught me approximately when cherry salmon fishing ended.

Now I wanted to know when to start. That was my task for that year. When do cherry salmon start coming upstream from the sea?

I had gathered some tips of information during the last season. Most of them were very old, including over 100-year-before one. Some said that in the Meiji era, cherry salmon were caught in the New Year in the Kuzuryu River and the Jintu River. They were called midwinter trout and adored as treasure fish. Some said cherry salmon came upstream in autumn together with salmon and others said they came as soon as salmon finished coming upstream.
I put shooting head to Flat Beam to cast the fly far and far away.
Power Wet Fly Fishing became popular in Japan through cherry salmon fishing.

There seemed to be difference between rivers when cherry salmon start coming upstream. As for the Kuzuryu River, it turned out that the first fish came upstream in the beginning of December. Now some of them, even if several, must be somewhere in the river.

I decided to go my first fishing on February 1st. I wanted to go earlier but that was the earliest because it was the opening day of fishing mountain streams in Fukui Prefecture.
It is important to know when the sea-bred fish come upstream if you want to catch them in the river.

Waddington Shank

Now I had 1712D, one of the most reliable rods. It performed very well in the testing tour of Scotland and Canada in the last autumn. I believed I could cast the fly as far as I want even in high water.

I imagined how to swing that 17ft rod in various pools like Hatayaura, the front of the kindergarten, the power transmission lines, the junction and National Route 8, walking into the river filled with snow melting water. There was no need to worry about high water.

Nevertheless, I still worried about the fly, not the pattern but the hook. My experience taught that large single hook easily came off except for the beginning of the season.

As for Atlantic salmon, double or treble hook had been used, instead of large single hook, to solve the problem. It had been quite common in the modern salmon fishing.

In the early season with snow melting water, larger flies are used. So tube or Waddington Shank is a good choice. Aquamarine is dressed more smartly on Waddington Shank than plastic tube. That sinks more easily, too.

I prepared for the opening day, dressing 2 kinds of Aquamarine, pink-blue one and green one, on 35mm Waddington Shank. I used #4 hook, larger than standard #6, considering the big and soft mouth of cherry salmon.

I was ready now. The only worry was whether the bad weather would not prevent me from traveling safely to the Kuzuryu River on the opening day.

-- To be continued --
2002/10/13  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake