Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Mr. Sakai-san and I went to Ohtagawa river for fly fishing. Our target was the amago trout. The area we fished was above a closed road, so there is very little fishing pressure here. It was a clear cool fall day and it had just rained the night before. There was a strong breeze blowing upstream. I kept having trouble getting my line tangled because of the breeze. But it was not too bad. We saw many amago as soon as we got to the river's edge. Sakai-san (right) caught the first fish, a gorgeous 18cm amago. Note the dark paw marks and bright red spots (below).

Soon after, I caught a small amago, my only one for the day (below). I missed about five fish in total. Amago are very quick and the hook must be set fast. I am still leaving too much slack in the line.

Sakai-san had a great day, with a total of 5 fish! He is a very good fisherman. I learned a lot just watching him (below).

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Just one week after the Nikengoya trip I had the opportunity to go to another beautiful fishing area North of Mount Fuji. I went with Kawano-sensei, Tanaka-san and my wife Susanne. It was a cool overcast weekend with off and on rain showers. We stayed at the Seisen_Ryo hotel and had a private 2 bedroom cottage. The price was very reasonable which included breakfast and dinner in a 4 star restuarant.
We arrived Sunday evening and visited a famous fly-fishing hangout called Mossback. It is a small diner with lots of atmosphere. The owner, a friend of Dr. Kawano, is a local with a lot of knowledge of this area's streams. We had coffee and looked at books of nature photographs taken by the owner. After coffee, the owner brought out some topo maps and showed us the best places to go.
That afternoon, we checked into the hotel and donned our fishing gear. The first stream was close to town. We spreadout with about 100 meters between us. I was in the middle close to a bridge. I walked slightly down stream near a small falls and started fishing back up stream. I was using a newly tied pattern (Olive CDC caddis on a #14 extra fine hook). It is a very high floating fly that likes to "skitter" on the surface film. Iwana seem to be attracted to this natural movement.
I saw a very likely spot and I slowly fished my way to it. It was a group of large rocks against the far shore. They formed a series of small falls with shallow pools between them. I fished the lowest pool first with no results. My fly was starting to sink, so I redressed it with some powder floatant. I knew the next pool was probably my best chance. The fly landed softly just above the eddy and floated for about 3 seconds before I had a strike. It was a nice Iwana (about 21 cm). I held it up for Dr. Kawano to see and took some pictures.
Soon after this, Tanaka-san saw five fly fisherman walk downstream and leave. Evidently this area had been recently fished. I was very lucky to have caught a fish here.
The next morning we hiked down a gorge to a very popular stream. When we arrived Dr. Kawano and I sat down to rest. Tanaka-san immediately started fishing. We watched as Tanaka-san made beautiful casts to a large pool right in front of us. An Iwana attacked his fly and he set the hook perfectly. It was very enjoyable to see him catch his first trout of this trip. He has been fishing for 10 years and is a very skilled angler.
We then split up and spreadout along the stream. Dr. Kawano caught two Iwana and Tanaka-san caught a total of three Iwana. I was happy that everyone was catching fish. We came back together and had a bento lunch. Next we went to one of the streams suggested by the Mossback owner. I caught a very dark colored Iwana-char here. Dr. Kawano said he believed this was probably a native "wild" trout. It gets a little confusing sometimes. But many of the streams in Japan contain stocked trout that are raised in hatcheries. They are still Iwana trout which is a native species. The co-ops that release the fish may only stock the stream once every three years to offset high pressure fishing areas. These "farm raised" Iwana interbreed with the natural "wild" Iwana and it leads to changes in there appearance. Most noticeably, they appear lighter in color. However, many of the small streams are cut-off from the large streams by dams and large waterfalls that keep these areas "wild".
By the way, Susanne also enjoyed herself soaking in the onsen, shopping and making new friends. Such is the life of a fishing widow.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Nikengoya, Oi-gawa

On September 16 the fly fishing class went to the Oi-gawa head waters area for our first overnight fishing trip. We stayed at the Nikengoya lodge located in a remote area of the Japanese Alps.
The first day I fished with Dr. Kawano, an English speaking instructor and veteran fly fisherman. Dr. Kawano caught a nice 27cm Iwana. I had never caught a wild Japanese trout and I was hoping this would be the day. After about an hour of fishing I switched to a CDC Caddis and immediately had a splash rise but was late setting the hook. Encouraged, I continued using the CDC. Dr. Kawano spotted a fish but could not get it to rise to his fly. He said, "David, why don't you see if he will take your fly?" I slowly approached the eddy being careful to stay concealed behind a large boulder. My first cast landed in the middle of the eddy. I could see the Iwana looking at the fly, rising slowly at first. Then, a lightening quick strike. "Fish On!" I had my first wild Japanese trout.He was only 19cm long but I was elated. I was glad Dr. Kawano could be my witness. We took pictures and released him back into the Oi-gawa.

The second day, we walked upstream for about 45 minutes to the less fished area of the river.I managed to catch another Iwana (20cm).
The trip was awesome and I could not think of a better setting for "my first trout".