2012/6/17 Salmon Fishing in Japan
Japan whose geography and climate stretches long from sub-tropical south to humid-continental north is sitting in the middle of cold and warm currents. Cold current in the north brings 2 species of salmons in autumn and winter. Chum salmon and pink salmon. Chum salmon is known as sake which means in Japanese “salmon”. Chum salmons come into rivers from Hokkaido down to Ishikawa on the western side of Honshu Island or Ibaraki on the eastern side. There are also sockeye salmon in the northern islands under border disputes with Russia, chinook salmon occasionally migrating offshore, and coho salmon farmed in the ocean.
(Image from surf-forecast.com)
History of Salmon for Recreational Fishing
Breeding program for salmons dates back to the medieval time when government simply forbid fishing on selected rivers during the run of salmon in spring. This method is still carried out in Hokkaido, but majority of Honshu’s salmon became nearly 100% man-bred over centuries of cultivation and stocking program is carried out by releasing pars in estuaries and catching them 4 years later in autumn when they return to their home rivers. All salmons became subject of resource protection by government and only designated fishery cooperatives are allowed to catch them in rivers. In the ocean where fishery rule does not apply, recreational angling is permitted.
This has been the case for many years, then imported salmons took over more than 50% of salmons distributed in Japan since 1990’s. Atlantic salmon from Norway, coho salmon from Chili, and sockeye salmon from Russia. Within Japan’s domestic production, cultivated coho salmon and sea-run rainbow trout take the remaining share. Ever year there has been less and less demand on native run salmons, so Japanese government has been reviewing hatchery programs for sometimes.
In the midst of hatchery revision, Churui River in Hokkaido Island became the first place where group of anglers, commercial fisherman, and local government debated together their salmon program. Today, in the name of research fishing, anglers can participate by applying for fishing license which allow them to fish for a day to days specified for the particular batch of research. Salmons caught in the process are monitored and female carrying eggs are collected by the fishery cooperative who send the eggs to the hatchery to start another cycle of breeding.
Rivers for Salmon Fishing
Following rivers are hosting salmon fishing program on constant basis. Situation is subject to change depends on fish condition or natural disaster. In fact, 3 rivers facing the Pacific coast in Miyagi and Fukushima were closed due to 3-11 Mega Quake and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.
- Churui River, Hokkaido
- Charo River, Hokkaido
- Hamamasu River, Hokkaido
- Oirase River, Aomori
- Sagae River, Yamagata
ANA provides all-in-one package tour for salmon fishing every year:
What about Cherry Salmon?
There is another salmon: cherry salmon. They are considered distinct from the rest of salmons for only female cherry salmon becomes searun in spring then come next spring to mate with male left in rivers. Please see here.