In the River TAKAHARA  --Vol.82--

Black Stars

I took a step to the waterside, moving slowly, to have a clearer view inside the water. Now I could dimly see some big stones. The fish seemed to rise from among those stones. When I caught my first char, that fish might have risen from the bottom, too. If so, it must be true that it responded to my fly 3 times. If not, I can say that it responded to the drifting fly twice.
Mr. Shohei Katoh cast the dry fly at the points where none of us had tried.

I wanted to cast the fly successively. But I thought: if my plan ends in failure the fish will lose their curiosity about my fly. Then if I give up this valley and wait for the next chance, fish will not stay at the same place. Finally I decided to cast again a little later, which seemed to be the safest way. I left there quietly.

Probably because the river condition improved, much more fish seemed to stay than the previous fishing half a month before. I fished upstream and caught several char and yamame trout before I got to the descending point. Unfortunately none of them were so big as my first trophy-sized char. Fish seemed to become smaller as I moved upstream.
This rainbow trout, spotted with black stars, settled in this mountain stream.

Half an hour passed. It was 3 p.m., the right time to go back to the previous point.

Walking on the bank, I headed for the bridge downstream again. I thought of nothing but the fly. Should I use the same fly or a completely different one? Either sounded good but if I choose a wrong one, I might catch no fish.

I still wondered which fly to cast when I got to that deep pool flowing along the bedrock. The river flowed in the head of the pool in the same way, as if nothing had happened. A mysterious fish is surely hiding under ripples! He responded to my fly at least twice. But he did not bite it. Why?

Was he disgusted by the char who snatched my first fly and struggled in front of him although he himself wanted to bite it? Or was he dissatisfied with my fly or its drifting way?
The upper reaches of the River Jintsu was changed into a miserable stream by the dam but building the dam made it easy to walk upstream.

I thought of every possible reason and decided to change the fly. More than half an hour passed but it was not a new situation. If there had been not my first char, he might have bitten Alexandra from the first. But there was no way to know. Anyway, he responded to my fly at least twice but did not bit it. That was why I decided to make a new wet fly go down deeper into the water for a change.

My fly box was closely packed with various kinds of flies. To be honest, those flies looked very different according to what condition I was in, good or bad. Now I was desperate to ask for help from the fly. So I preferred the flies whose great performance had been guaranteed.

Great Sedge, Peacock Queen, Dunkeld, Professor, Yellow Dun and Cinnamon King, my eyes were fixed on those flies, one by one. Finally I chose Peacock Queen. Great Sedge was another choice but rejected because the body hackles of Great Sedge were an obstacle to make the fly sink into the water quickly.

Various types of Size 8 Peacock Queen filled a line of the clips in the fly box. I chose one with small wings and a few hackles. I planned to put this fly to 3X leader. I was sure that it went down into the water much more quickly than size 10 Alexandra I had used.
Probably it took more than a year this fish to recover from the injury of the fin.

As I moved upstream, the river bottom suddenly became flat. Probably it took a year to get the usual river bottom again.

Rising from the Bottom

I should have waited a little longer but I had no extra time. I checked the leader and put the fly to it very slowly to gain time. Then I walked to the head of the pool quietly. As I knew where the fish stayed, I stood at the most suitable point and made the fly go down into the head of the pool very carefully.

Then I turned the rod to the upper reaches in the same way as before and tightened the line to make the fly float towards the surface.

A black shadow rose from the bottom above which the fly was drifting. It must be him! It was at least 40cm. What a big fish here is! But the shadow disappeared into the bottom without swaying, just like it appeared.

He appeared at the first casting. My excitement reached its climax and I was thirsty and suffocating. He rose from the bottom, following my fly that turned to the surface. He did not bite the fly but showed his desire to bite.

He will bite my fly! His movement made me sure of it. I cast the fly again to 1m upstream.

Come on! I prayed. I waited for the right time and tuned the fly. The black shadow rose from the bottom again. When it turned to the surface I saw something white around the head. He opened his mouth widely!

I had never felt each second longer in my fly fishing experience. Does he vomit my fly? When I was almost driven to despair, I felt a strong pull with thud.

I slowly raised the rod high from a horizontal position. The line was tightened and immediately Power Spey bent in a large arc, as if it had snagged on the bottom. I raised my hands high and kept tightening the line.

I felt a pull from the fish. He was swinging his head violently. Is he a yamame trout? If so, he must be a big one.

The fish was fixed among the rocks and would not move at all. But soon he began to move around the bottom, weaving his way. I was very careful so that the tightened leader would not scrub the bottom. I moved farther downstream than the fish in order to drag him away from the head of the pool whose bottom was covered with stones.

Our fighting was at a deadlock for a while. Then the fish left the stone place. Good! I’ve got it! But at the next moment the fish suddenly turned over to go downstream. He reeled out some metres of the line and broke the surface to jump high in the air.

Waking from a dream, I was staring vacantly at the ripple. My dream of catching a big yamame trout came to nothing. Why does a rainbow trout stay here? I did not mean to look down on rainbow trout, the wonderful fighter, but I felt depressed.

I caught the rainbow trout of approximately 45cm, spotted with countless black stars on the back and the side. It was beautiful but an old scar on the fin told me that it had been released into the river a year before or more. Since it had not been seen in the valley around there, it was quite possible that the drainage of water from the dam forced it to stay at the mountain stream.

-- To be continued --
2004/05/16  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake