Cherry Salmon • The Second Stage  --Vol.62--

A Prospect

In the evening the rain stopped. I drove along the river and stood on the embankment to watch the condition of the Kuzuryu River. The bank was wrapped in a dense fog and I could have only dim sight of the water. But it was clear that it had muddy water, even if not so high as I had worried.

The rain had lasted for several hours but the rainfall was not so much. The rain had turned into sleet or hail somewhere, so probably snow had fallen upstream. If it becomes chilly in the evening, melting snow will freeze and never flow into the river. Then the river will not be high or muddy tomorrow.

I had had such an easygoing prospect before drive and kept it because it was much colder than the previous day. To be honest, it was rather my hope.

Coming back to the hotel, I met Mr. Hiraiwa. He had been fishing at the lower reaches of the pool of the power transmission lines since the morning. But the rain started from the lunchtime and he had to wait. Then the river turned into muddy water. After all, he could fish only in the cold morning.
The pool of the front of kindergarten in the highest season. The water level, water temperature, muddy or clear, light or dark water, all are changing every moment, which plays with anglers. Once I start fishing here I never feel easy.

After supper I saw the star twinkling in the sky. Thank God, it will be fine tomorrow. I had some chat with him. Our topic was focused on the next day’s fishing, especially which pool to fish. As I could catch a cherry salmon on that day, I expected him to catch one on the next day. I intended to offer all spots he wanted to fish.

Then he asked me to select appropriate spots for him. He would be willing to follow my advice but it was not so easy for me.

I did not mind telling him about the spots. But if he had no catch there and I had some at different spots, how would he feel like? It is an unwelcome job to recommend the spot to the fishing companion.

I explained my way of choosing spots in advance. I wanted him to know that I did not select the spots at random but on the basis of my theories. If he had any doubt of them he could go to other spots. I talked to him about how I thought the river condition was now.
Usually the fish are rather slim in the beginning of the season.

My Analysis

It is February 1st today. It is too early to fish cherry salmon. I know that but started fishing because I believe that some, even if a few, of them have already come upstream from the sea. Possibly they still stay near the sea. We are trying to catch them with fly. The river near the sea is too big even for Power Wet Fly Fishing, fishing with a shooting head, although it is the most suitable to fish a large area.

I caught a cherry salmon at the pool of the front of kindergarten today. It is in the upper reaches of the river. The number of fish must be smaller than the lower reaches. But that pool upstream has an advantage of variety of river flows, including the deep pool, the fast current, the shallow part and the deep part, unlike the monotonous flow downstream. After getting rid of spots the fish avoid in this season, we can focus on several spots in the large area. That is why I chose the pool upstream today.
Do we know whether some fish stay in this pool or not, and how?

Now the water temperature is low and the fish are not so active. In addition, the fish that have come upstream from the sea now have to stay long in the river until the spawning season in autumn. They must settle down in the safe spot where they need less energy, unlike the fish that will come upstream near the spawning season. Therefore they must avoid the shallow part or the fast current. We can omit those spots.

When I fished the pool of the front of kindergarten this morning I cast the fly as far as 50m between just the lower reaches of the head of the pool and its core part. That range of 50m is equal to that from the tail of Hatayaura pool via Gomatsu Bridge to just upper reaches of the pool of the power transmission lines. What effective fishing!

It is the same guess as fishing at the well-chosen spots in the mountain stream is more effective than casting the fly blindly in the lake without knowing fish’s whereabouts.


If my guess is right it will be effective to choose the points including various flows. As far as I drove and watched around the previous day, the suitable points were limited upstream to the pool down National Route 8. Between Hatayaura and this pool there were 9 pools where cherry salmon could stay now.

Do cherry salmon stay together in one of those pools or are they scattered in each pool? My answer is near to the latter because I believe that cherry salmon have territory like their young, yamame trout. Once a cherry salmon settles down at its favourite spot it kicks other fish out. Then the newcomer settles down in another empty pool. Therefore many pools have a cherry salmon. If the pool is large, there will be some territories in it. When there are too many fish in the pool, they will be tired of fighting to keep their territory and not so aggressive to a newcomer, as is the case of sweet fish. It was how I thought about behaviour of cherry salmon.
When the mountain area is too cold for snow melting water to flow down, clear water flows in the river.

As I caught a cherry salmon in the pool of the front of kindergarten today, this pool is probably empty now. In the highest season when a lot of fish come upstream a new fish will come into the territory just after we catch one. But now there are a small number of fish. No one can tell when a new fish will come into the empty territory. Of course I can not deny that a new one will come before tomorrow morning but it is a chance in a million.

If there are tens of cherry salmon in this area, all of 9 pools I have marked will have some of them, except for one of the front of kindergarten. But if there are only 5 or even 1, what should I do?

Fishing hours are very short. We have no time to fish all good-looking points. We have to select the hopeful one.

In the end I recommended to Mr. Hiraiwa the pool above National Route 8 because it was the most desirable in its size, depth and gentle flow. I also advised him never to stop casting the fly from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I wish to watch a cherry salmon as long as possible.

The Pool above National Route 8

On the next day, February 2nd, the sky was blue and the sun was shining brightly from the morning. It was the perfect weather, completely different from the previous day. We ate breakfast, trying to calm ourselves down.

After 9 a.m. Mr. Hiraiwa went ahead directly to the pool above National Route 8. I headed for Hatayaura pool. The river condition was good, as I had expected. At a glance from the embankment, I found the river had lower and clear water. On the bank I could see the river bottom quite well. Then I noticed that the right bank I was standing now became shallower than the last spring when I caught my first cherry salmon.

Feeling a little bit bewildered, I drew out the line and walked into the water. I cast the fly several times but had no feeling to catch. After I cast the fly carefully to the end of the pool I crossed the bridge to the opposite bank.

The left bank was not changed. I was fishing down among willow branches when a siren was sounded at noon. The river flowed desirably from the concrete blocks to the tetrapods in the end of the pool, although it was not so long.

Somehow I could not concentrate on my casting but my heart moved downstream. The best pool is not here but farther downstream. Something must happen there today! I always thought of the pool above National Route 8.

I fished down the end of the pool, then passed by the pool of the front of kindergarten and headed for my car on the embankment. Then I saw Mr. Hiraiwa come driving. I watched his car, expecting something special. He got off the car, found me on the bank and waved his hand briskly. I could not hear his voice but I knew what happened with him.

-- To be continued --
2002/10/27  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake