2014/7/28 Fly Fishing/Tenkara for Cherry Salmon in Mountain Streams
Mark, visiting Tokyo with his family, and I went out for bit of stream trout fishing in and near Tokyo for cherry salmon trial aside having fun going through all sorts of topics from international politics to rock music. Unexpectedly, our outing became a good testing to illustrate difference between Western fly fishing and Japanese Tenkara both of which use identical fly patterns yet developed to catch different types of trout.
1. Youzawa Trout Fishery
First, we went to Youzawa River, branch of Aki River running in the North West part of Tokyo forming mountains.
Place is stocked regularly with rainbow trout and cherry salmon. Occasional catch of brown trout and white spotted char are extra bonus, because they are all stream born.
Regardless of Mark having wonderful skill in fly casting and presentation, it was a slow summer day with water temperature warmed up, in which case, willing cherry salmons only feed in the rapids and rainbow trouts are doing the same competing for the same cool spot.
And cherry salmon, as more of team player fish, feeds only in what’s called “feeding lane”. Feeding lane is a zone respected by each salmon to feed collaboratively when water is occupied by the school. This is quite different behaviour from rainbow trout, brown trout, or char who often lives alone and feeds normally in slower water to increase the efficiency in energy consumption while making ready for competing for the best position in water.
As you can see in video, we caught plenty of rainbow trouts, but the only cherry salmon was caught by Tenkara outfit which is capable of making very quiet and accurate presentation into even very small rapid spot where no rainbow trout dare to enter.
2. Ura Tanzawa Stream Fishing Area
Ura Tanzawa means “back side of Tanzawa”. As the name suggests, this fishery is located away from all the other fisheries around Tanzawa Mountains. This fishery has much bigger water space than Youzawa and mountain spring water keeps the water temperature more stable throughout the year as well. Which makes more ideal habitat for cherry salmon who drastically drops interest in feeding at 20 °C and migrate to cooler water (in more spacious circumstances).
Mark began to see how cherry salmon is different from rainbow trout, but he had to first meet the challenge of unfamiliar terrain of mountain stream which has small pockets and willing fish hiding in rapids. We caught lots of rainbow trout in rapids and pool, but it was slow day for cherry salmon. I barely managed to catch this nice 34cm fish after drifting fly 5 times in the same feeding lane!
3. Is Yamame Difficult?
I don’t think so. It’s a game all about understanding how unique this fish is, how to approach without spooking, and how to make presentation. However, doing all of these in unfamiliar terrain with lots of obstacles to keep you concerned about line management is a challenge.