In the River KATSURA  --Vol.103--

A Complete Shock

Beside the spot of the column of water, a piece of driftwood was pushed up on the bank. Its silhouette was seen 30m downstream. I got excited although I knew that my target fish was not so close. Where is that chap? It was clear that ‘he’ was staying near the spot of the column of water, probably within a radius of 5m. After several castings I would be in ‘his’ area. I extended the line down and across and just concentrated on avoiding miscast.

When the fly I cast to the opposite bank started crossing the heart of the stream, the line was suddenly pulled. Hmm, that chap has moved here! I almost panicked but also felt relieved to know that I could hook ‘him’ safely. At the next moment, alas, I knew that the fish struggling at the line end was not heavy enough to be my target. I retrieved the line softly but properly so that it did not struggle too much. It was a rainbow trout that bit the lead fly. It was almost the same size as the previous ones. I removed the hook carefully and put the fish back in the stream. I sighed and my tension went away. I felt fatigued.

It was sure that my target fish would stay over there. I was going to fish ‘his’ area soon. It was light enough and good timing as I had expected. I checked the fly and the leader and watched downstream. Taking a deep breath, I fished down carefully. As the river became wider, it flowed more slowly and monotonously after every casting. I had walked on the bank side but now quietly walked into the water to be knee-deep. The piece of driftwood as my landmark was less than 20m away. I was sure that my fly calmly crossed the river just at upper reaches of the water-column place.
An incredibly high and thick body. It was 45cm long and weighed over 2.2lb.

It will be all up with me if the fly is snagged into the driftwood. To avoid that, I raised the rod softly before the line extended downstream to the end. Then I retrieved the line at a little bit earlier timing. I fished 1m downstream at every casting and continued to cast the fly quietly. Finally the fly reached just beside the driftwood. It was the best point in this current. But there was no bite. Considering how I had caught 3 rainbow trout on that day, I should have got some bites there but got none.
Size 6 Peacock Queen. One of the most famous monster killers in the River Katsura as well as Great Sedge.

No bite irritates me but getting a bite of little fish irritates me more. I fished 1m downstream again and extended the line carefully. The dark bush on the opposite bank downstream prevented me from looking around the fly. I used my heart and soul to sense something about fly drifting.


I continued to make the fly drifting another several times, feeling quite tense. I felt dizzy, indeed. My thrilling time passed without getting bite. I was standing just at upper reaches of the driftwood. The fly was already drifting at the lower reaches of the water-column place. The stream in front of me flowed so quietly that there was no sound. Within another several castings I would finish the most hopeful area. Is it over without bite? Has my target fish already moved somewhere? No, I was sure ‘he’ was there. It was true that there was no bite in this core spot but silence was the proof of existence of big chap!

Taking a step back, I extended the line to the dark opposite bank. I directed the rod to the opposite bank as soon as the fly settled on the surface as before. Then I tightened the line once before the fly started drifting. As I cast the fly far downstream, it was sure that the fly was drifting slowly across the stream like a hanging fly as soon as it settled on the water. Probably my target fish was staying there and moving back impatiently, watching my fly many times. It was the time for that chap to decide!
A little bit upstream of the barrier of Kawamo. Heavy rain always changed the scenery.

“Don’t you eat my fly? This is the last chance.”

I prayed to the quiet surface when Peacock Queen started crossing the heart of the stream.

Suddenly the line was pulled violently and the reel rattled momentarily. I raised the rod, which bent in a large arc and stopped moving. I felt nervous. But the next moment I felt a strong pull with thud in my hand. It’s that chap! No doubt. The water-column maker finally bit my fly. My guess was right.

I prepared for its run. I was waiting for that moment with my right arm up high. But the fish never ran. It moved downstream slowly with its head swinging big. Usually the fish that are hooked up either run or stop after swinging their head for a while. But this fish kept swinging its head so persistently that I could not stop and it moved downstream. Now I felt as nervous as hooking moment or even more. Its pull or struggle was not that of brown trout or rainbow trout. Definitely yamame trout! That water-column maker was a yamame trout!

The reel was reversed with noise little by little. I did not hesitate to draw out the line to prevent the fish from breaking the surface. The fish finally stopped 15m downstream. Then it started swimming from right to left, making a circle. It swam for a while, stopped and broke the surface with its head swinging. After behaving like this several times, the fish became calm.

I pulled it towards me quietly. Reeling the line, I looked down around my feet because there was a broken piece of driftwood pushed up on the bank. The surface looked too bright to see downstream. I wondered whether there was another broken piece somewhere else. It would be safe to move near to the bank, where the river flowed more slowly, to continue fighting. But I did not move. Instead, I opened the net. Fortunately, the fish came to the net slowly. But immediately it noticed the net, the fish started running to the heart of the stream. It behaved like this another 3 times. At last it lost the stamina and came into my landing net.

Almost Misrecognizing

Holding the rod under my arm, I looked into the net. The fish was entangled in the net, with its head downwards and its tail on this side. I saw its blue tail and back and its silver belly. I was shocked.

“Oh, no. You are a rainbow trout!”
“Why did you pull in such a way?”
“That was the pull by yamame trout, wasn’t it? You should have pulled as a rainbow trout.”
“You made me expect too much. You, liar!”

I looked up at the sky and sighed. I walked to the bank, dragging the net. I did not complain about the rainbow trout but why did it pull the line like that? Since I fished the River Katsura, I had never misrecognized a rainbow trout as a yamame trout during fight.
Big yamame trout had a original style of the River Katsura, different from ordinary yamame trout or cherry salmon.

Anyway, I had to remove the hook from the fish. Kneeling on the bank, I put my hand into the net. The fish had a very high and thick body. I could not catch it one-handed. It was at least 45cm, a good size for a rainbow trout. I put my left hand into the net, too. I tried to remove the entangled net from the fish and make its head upwards.

“A hooked nose!”
“Is it ----?”

I was impatient to switch on the torch. I lighted up the inside of the landing net and removed the entangled net. I was shocked. A yamame trout! No doubt. In dim light, black small marks on the blue back had made me misrecognize it as a rainbow trout. I watched it again. What a strange body! It reminded me of various fish and fishing in the past.

After I felt calm again, I removed the hook from the fish. I found something wrong. I had been very careful to prevent the fish from drying up in the air but it was almost lifeless, probably because we made too long fight or it was too fat.

-- To be continued --
2007/02/09  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake