Cherry Salmon • The Second Stage  --Vol.65--

Finding a New River

Fortunately I could catch two cherry salmon in the Kuzuryu River, a staying one on the opening day and a month later a fresh run that, excited by snow melting water, had just come upstream. My success was the result of my effort to find the suitable fishing method and place for changing seasons or situations.

When I first fished the Kuzuryu River I was amazed at its big size and something mysterious and completely at a loss as to what to do to catch unknown fish. But now I learned the state of each point and the fishing method. I did not cast the fly blindly any more. The more often I made right guess, the more I wanted to fish. Cherry salmon itself, the fly, its fishing method and spots, all are beautiful. I wanted to go fishing for my third cherry salmon just after catching the second one.

Ironically the more I caught, the less my fishing spots were. I announced all the information about the fishing points, the method, the fly name, the reason for its choice and how to deal with the different situations, except for the river name. Then anglers always occupied the spots I wanted to fish. I could not test my guess freely at the point I marked.

I did not want to argue with anglers who began cherry salmon fishing, picking up my information. Then I thought that I should give way to new comers and look for another river.
The long and big barrier at the mouth of the river cut off the stream. It must be a great obstacle to fish.

The news I caught the fresh run that had just come upstream with snow melting water spread very quickly because a lot of anglers saw the scene with their own eyes. The next week I heard a record number of anglers gathering at the Kuzuryu River. I gave up joining them but decided to go to a new river.

The Kitakami River

While fishing the Kuzuryu River, I had kept gathering the information about cherry salmon all over Japan. Some rivers had driven me to dash there but I had had no time. Now I had to look for a new river. I was as excited as when I first went to the Kuzuryu River.

On March 23rd, I headed for the Kitakami River in Miyagi Prefecture, which had long drawn my attention. The river flowed from north to south of the Tohoku region, which was unusual there. I had once fished around Morioka city without good result probably because it was near summer and too distant from the sea. I wished I could fish near the sea in the earlier season. So I was happy to have a good chance.
At the lower reaches of the river near the sea, the stream was too gentle to know from which the river flowed.

Early in the morning I arrived at the lower reaches of the barrier at the mouth of the river not far from Ishinomaki city. The stream was similar to the lower reaches of the Kuzuryu River. It had nothing special, usual as a big river near the sea. It flowed so monotonously that all I could do was trolling by boat or casting the lure at random.

A Barrier at the Mouth of the River

Originally it was not the point for fly fishing but a giant barrier was built at the mouth of the river. Fish coming upstream from the sea had to stop there, which gave anglers a good chance. That was why I felt happy and not quite happy to see the point in front of me.
I caught a cherry salmon with plastic tube for the first time.

The river filled with less-transparent snow-melting water flowed to the both banks. As the right bank had a steep slope, fishing was possible only from the left bank. The bank was completely covered with concrete, as is the case of the lower reaches of the river. I did not walk into the water. I felt as if I had been fishing carp in the Tama River in Tokyo or fishing horse mackerel or black perch from the seawall.

When I arrived there almost 10 anglers had cast the lure, wearing pairs of boots or sneakers. They did not look like cherry-salmon fishermen.

No-fishing area spread some distance down the barrier at the mouth of the river. Anglers were standing just down the border towards the sea. I heard that the good point was the upper reaches next to no-fishing area.
Anglers disappeared as the time passed.

Preparing for fishing, I walked into the empty space. 10 anglers at the upper reaches of me were casting the lure in front of them. I could not move my place although I kept some space beside me. I could cast the fly only in front of me, too. I felt as if I had been in a crowded fishing farm.

Drawing out the line, I watched the stream. It flowed gently and monotonously near the bank, while a little rapidly off the shore. There was no clear border but the stream flowed like the heart of stream there. It was about 30m away. It was about 10m wide, judging from a faint twist on the surface.

I took my regular fly, Aquamarine tied on 35mm Waddington Shank. Checking the water colour, I put a green one to the leader. I cast it in front of me. The stream flowed more slowly and more monotonously than I had expected. I waited for the fly to sink and retrieved the line. But the line drifted downstream only a little.
The lower reaches of the barrier at the mouth of the river were widely covered with concrete.

I cast the fly several times. I worried about slow flow. Waddington Shank sank too deeply. Its performance was not good. If I retrieve the line rapidly it will perform well. But that will be unsuitable in the slow flow.

I decided to change the fly into green Aquamarine tied on a plastic tube. Although the water depth was not clear it seemed to be all right for the fly to drift 1m below the surface. Again I felt as if I had been in a fishing farm.

Within 10 minutes a lure fisherman fishing at upper reaches hooked a fish. Unfortunately the hook came off after the fish splashed on the surface near the heart of the stream. Then another angler just down the former hooked a fish, too. The fish was pulled to his feet without appearing on the surface and then landed into a large net the next angler held out. It was a cherry salmon, a small one but definitely it was.

Cherry salmon really stay here! I felt excited. I did not feel tired from my journey any more. I kept casting, changing little by little the depth of the fly in the water or the speed of retrieving the line.
I never imagined that I took photos of a cherry salmon on the concrete.

A Shoal of Cherry Salmon?

Another 20 minutes passed. I cast the line 40m ahead, waited for it to sink and retrieved it a little bit rapidly. I retrieved several times and felt the weight of the line when I felt a bite.

I raised the rod quietly and retrieved the line another several times. I felt a pull typical of cherry salmon. I worried that the fish would run upstream or downstream because there were anglers at the either side. Fortunately it wanted to run offshore.

I always worry that the hook comes off the fish mouth especially when it does not fight fiercely even if I draw it near to me. Now I could not walk into the water or slide the fish up because my standing point was completely covered with concrete. I spent extra time to fight with the fish to stop it from struggling at the waterfront. I waited for it to become calm and pulled it to me. Without struggling it came into the net. It was such a fresh fish near the sea that some scales removed from the net.

To my surprise, just after my catch, another angler at the upper reaches hooked a fish. Unfortunately the hook came off during fight. A considerable number of fish must stay around here! Until what o'clock can I fish? How many bites do I get from now on?

It is no use counting your chicken before they are hatched. Too optimistic guess is usually the wrong guess. I expected that a big shoal of cherry salmon was coming but no single one appeared. More than 20 anglers disappeared, one by one, like the missing teeth of a comb. Surely they all knew that it was a waste of time to keep fishing.

-- To be continued --
2002/11/17  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake