In the River TAKAHARA  --Vol.91--

Sudden Change

There was still a large amount of water at the lower reaches and the mirror-like surface where char can stay was small.

The stream line of the valley changed its direction. The sun set behind the mountain and there was no more brilliant sunshine but a sign of evening. Now the time of the dry fly is coming! The dry fly had performed better before and would be farther better. The wet fly is no match for the dry fly!

There was a small pocket in front of me. A small but attractive pool was farther ahead. I wondered when I would change the wet fly into the dry fly but decided to use the wet fly at this small pocket and then the dry fly at the pool ahead.
Most of char I fished were about 25 cm long.

I knew that the wet fly would perform better than the dry fly sooner or later. But the problem was whether we could continue to fish until then because it was dangerous to climb that white-water creek after dark. We could not wait for char at the bottom of the valley so long.

I cast the fly to the small pocket in a casual manner. Seeing the line flowing to this side, I lifted the rod a little. Immediately I got a bite with a heavy thud.

As soon as I set the hook to the fish softly, my fly caught the jaw of a char and its dorsal fin appeared. It was swimming around in the small pool. It was less than 30cm long but a good size for the place. It responded to the wet fly very well.

The char struggled for a while and I removed the fly from it. Then I changed my mind. I wanted to use the wet fly once more here. The pool at upper reaches looked very nice. It would be all right to move there after fishing here once more!
Mr. Shohei Katoh caught char, one after another, with the dry fly.

I drove my two wet flies into the falling water again, sent it under the white foam and tightened the line slowly. I got a sharp bite with a heavy thud again. At the next moment a brisk char rose from the bottom.

The same thing happened again! Is it a coincidence? Or is there any change in fishing conditions? I had no time to think. It might be wiser to keep the same method. As if I had been driven by something mysterious, I walked to the point at the upper reaches.

Divine Guidance?

I felt as if I had been guided by the mysterious power. I cast the fly to the point in front of me. Then I got a bite at the timing when I expected to be now. I caught a fish and cast the fly to the next point. Immediately the fly flowed well, I got a bite. Then I cast the fly to the next point and got the same result.
The more of good points, the darker shadow of char.

When I stopped fishing and felt relieved I found that I had caught 10 char without a break. On the other hand, Mr. Shohei Katoh had a hard time although we cast the fly by turns. Fish suddenly responded poorly to the dry fly. Even after the fish rose close to the surface, an increasingly larger number of them did not bite the dry fly.

We saw the biggest pool ahead. I was going to fish there when I caught fish on every cast. This made me all the more expect a lot.

Shohei’s dry fly flowed on the surface first. He cast twice or third time. To our surprise, nothing happened. What is wrong? It was quite unnatural that no char broke the surface at this point. He changed the course of the fly drifting and cast another several times. Still nothing happened.
As we fished upstream, the valley scenery became milder.

What will happen to the wet fly? It was my turn to cast the fly. I drove the fly into the head of the pool as before. I cast twice. No response. As I was standing beside the pool, I extended the line a little so that the fly at the head of the pool might move downstream.

The fly flowed almost to the end of the pool, made a vertical turn when the line extended to the end. Then the fly crossed the stream. When the fly flowed, causing a drag for the first time today, instead of natural drift, I got a bite with a heavy thud. I lifted the rod. A tug I felt from the line was slightly different from that of char I had caught before.
Typical white foam and the mirror-like surface. An ideal valley for char.

The char swam around the bottom of the deep pool and tried to creep into the foam of the head of the pool. It did not rise from the bottom easily. When I pulled the fish from downstream, it was forced to rise from the bottom. It was a nice big char over 30cm.

Dark Shadows

I stared at the fish for a while. Then I found that it was getting dark. The bottom was hardly seen through the dark water. A half hour later it would be completely dark. It was time to think about our way home.

It would take us 15 minutes to return to the descending point of the valley and 5 minutes to climb the white-water creek. So we had 10 minutes left. We had to fish only at main points.

I gave up fishing the shallow current that stretched for some distance. Then I caught 2 char at the pocket at the upper reaches. I saw a narrow point like a channel farther upstream. I decided to fish there as my last spot.

I came near to the point and found an old root of the tree near the bank side. The strange point that could not be called a deep pool or a current was made by the water flowing along the big fallen tree, which looked yellow in the water. Only that part of the bottom looked light against the black rocks and sand.
A trophy-size char was rising from the bottom. It was not very big but looked powerful.

Half of fish that were caught here had clear black colour.

Char of nearly 30cm and a much larger one, a trophy of the valley.

Where should I cast my first fly? Looking at the point carefully, I found a dark shadow moving on the yellow bottom.

Char! Two char of nearly 30cm! They were swimming, sticking on the fallen tree on the bottom. Those two dark shadows separated and crossed, swaying in the water like shimmer.

Well, this is my last casting. Waiting patiently for good timing to come, I cast the fly 2m upstream of the dark shadows. I could not see how the fly was flowing in the twilight, unlike the daytime.

Judging from the speed of the stream, I guessed when the fly was passing over the char head. At that moment, two black shadows swaying in front of me rose from the bottom together and immediately turned upstream.

No doubt the fish caught my fly! Impatiently I lifted the rod. The line was tightened and a char desperately struggled to go down, splitting the surface under my feet. The char was really black, not only looked so because of dark.

I removed the hook from the fish and looked into the water. The other dark shadow was swaying in the same place. I cast the fly again in the same way. As if I had rewound the video tape, the dark shadow rose from the bottom in the same way. A moment later it was struggling under my feet.

-- To be continued --
2005/03/13  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake