Cherry Salmon • The First Stage  --Vol.47--


Late in April it was cold only in the morning but too hot to wear a pullover in the sunny daytime. The Kuzuryu River had already been changed from high water into medium water. The water level was rather low on that day. It was not real low water but the stream flowed calmly everywhere in the pool. After fishing at the upper reaches of Hatayaura pool, I headed for the pool of the upper reaches of power transmission lines. The water temperature was 10 degs C on that day, whereas it was 6 degs C when my first cherry salmon were caught 2 weeks before, then 8 degs C in the last week.
Just after I started fishing a cherry salmon broke the surface in front of me and ate mayflies.
I aimed at the core part of the pool very carefully.

Soon after I started fishing the noon siren wailed. The sound gave me a feeling that I was going to catch cherry salmon because mayflies usually begin to hatch out from noon. As it was warm on that day, a lot of mayflies were flowing away around me. Once their hatch has started, a lot of nymphs are coming up to the surface. Two cherry salmon I had caught in the last week had a lot of nymphs in their stomachs. Now many cherry salmon might be waiting for their bait. There is one in this pool, too?

A flow line passed just beside me and spread in front of me. Mayflies were drifting along the line when a fish suddenly jumped from the surface. Immediately I grabbed the line, retrieved it in haste and cast it again. I was so tensed that I felt thirsty. I was not surprised at an unexpected rise but that the fish was surely a cherry salmon. I still believe that I saw a cherry salmon in front of me only 10m away although it was my first and last opportunity to see a cherry salmon make a rise to eat mayflies.
A faint bite was the trigger of my misfortune.

Straight Downstream

I repeatedly made the fly drifting around there but nothing happened with my rod. I was still high tensed while I was fishing down and finally came near to the spot where I had caught cherry salmon in the previous time. A cherry salmon is staying in this pool again and I will get a bite. So I believed firmly but nothing happened. It is too bad! I cast the fly down and across the current for the last chance but it crossed the heart of the stream and returned just downstream of my side.

Ah, I retrieved the line fully extended downstream when I felt a faint bite. I wondered whether there was a Japanese dace close to the bank. I raised the rod but stopped as if the rod had been held down. Immediately I felt that strong pull, typical of cherry salmon.

"Here she comes."

I was sure of my success. In the next moment, however, Landlock that had bent in an arc turned upright, drawing the line with no fish.

"Oh, no!"
Double-trophy-size yamame trout behave very differently from cherry salmon that have just come upstream from the sea.

There was no change of the stream in front of me. It happened just in my dream? I wished so.

I stood there in utter amazement.

In fishing down and across with wet fly, the worst hooking was that a fish bites the fly when the fly drifts downstream to the end. To avoid that situation I have been making every device of casting method, line choice and the like so that the fly can drift beautifully as soon as it settles on the water.

My fly seemed to drift perfectly in dull flow of a little bit low water. In the previous fishing the water level was much higher and the line was much more difficult to control in strong winds but the cherry salmon bit my fly in the heart of the stream. On the contrary, fly drifting was much more stable now. Why didn`t the fish bite the fly until it drifted to the end?

The bite I felt on the rod was very feeble like a Japanese dace. What made the fish so?
Dividing stream, even if it is not a junction, stops the fish from coming upstream for a while.

Two cherry salmon I had caught in the last week had a lot of nymphs in their stomachs. I thought that they were forced to eat small nymphs because there was no delicious food in the river. Then small bait became their diet and lost interest in big bait. That was my guess.

But they both bit large Aquamarine after they ate a lot of nymphs and one of them spent many days after coming upstream. It seemed that they had no problem of appetite or conditioned reflex.

Today`s fish might exceptionally nervous. I failed to catch the fifth one but that never spoiled my successive catch of four cherry salmon. I should still see how things go.

I tried to forget my failure and to concentrate on finding another fish.
What makes cherry salmon`s life change?

An Empty Pool

After late lunch I headed again for the upper reaches of power transmission lines. I did not expect the runaway fish to come back to my fly but concerned myself with the other one that had made a rise for mayflies in front of me. Is it really a cherry salmon? I wanted to get it to know that.

After making sure of whereabouts of the rising spot I started fishing from a little upstream. The sunset comes early in spring. The setting sun was shining yellowish and bright. I fished down slowly at shorter space. Mayflies, which had found in a mass in the daytime, were nowhere to be seen. The cheery salmon, which had stayed near the bank, might stay ahead in the heart of the stream now.

I repeatedly cast the fly carefully there but got no bite till I fished down to the end of the long pool. I knew that the fish, which had bit my fly some hours before, never stayed in this pool. She was surprised and must run away. But how about the other one, which had made a rise for mayflies? Did she also move somewhere else?

If I fish down the whole pool without any bite, the pool has no fish. I dare say so. I had confidence.
The sunset at the end of the Junction pool. Do double-trophy-size yamame trout come here to take bait?

The Junction Pool at Sunset

I kept fishing down to the end the pool of power transmission lines and came near to the Junction pool at dusk. This must be the last pool to fish today.

I walked into the water besides the head of the pool and started fishing slowly. The core part of the pool spread in front of me because of low water level. I had never seen such slow flow at the Junction pool.

I fished at the right bank. The heart of the stream flowed near the left bank and suddenly swelled at the middle of the pool. The stream flowed irregularly and strong flow like shore-washing waves appeared at random. I cast the fly at the same spot several times, enjoying a little changing way of fly drifting each time. But nothing happened at such an attractive core part full of variety.
A cherry salmon that came from the snow melting water. It looks like a sea fish.

This pool has no fish, either? I turned back and looked at the pool carefully. No, it is not an empty pool. Its size and shape suggested that fish should stay there. But I got no response although I cast the fly at the core part very carefully.

Somehow this pool has a similar shape to Hatayaura pool and I remembered how I had caught cherry salmon there 2 weeks before. At that time I guessed where the fish coming upstream took a rest. Fortunately, I guessed right, which gave me a great success.

But today a fish got away. I also saw another fish neglect my fly.

I want to get all fish in the river in front of me. I always wished so but in vain. So many fish, so many minds. Fishing condition is changing every minute. It is no use complaining. I would easily accept my failure if that runaway fish had been an exceptionally difficult one. But if not, would I?

If I did not notice that the situation had been completely changed, I would never succeed again. I wondered whether that fish was the first one my old method did not apply to. That thought somehow occurred to me.

-- To be continued --
2002/04/07  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake