Fly Fishing Pilgrimage: Day 1: Streamer Game at Lake Chuzenji

2009/6/17 Fly Fishing Pilgrimage: Day 1: Streamer Game at Lake Chuzenji

My schedule was freed for few days journey, so I packed my VW with minimum camping gears and headedd north. I recently got really sick and tired of obviously stocked fishery nearby Tokyo where things are too commercial, so I decided to use this journey to visit the places I haven’t yet. I really enjoyed the last trip in Izu which always yielded fish per location, so I thought of this trip to be my fly fishing pilgrimate in Japan which helps me become compleat angler.


I left late in the night to take the benefit of ETC discount which only charges half the amount on highways between 22:00-6:00, then I spent the first night in my car.

The first location was set to deep Nikko where the Western fly fishing was first introduced in the late 1800’s by the group of gentlemen including the epic figure, Thomas Glover. Both anglers from European community and Japan got together and stocked lakes and streams above Kegon Water Fall (97m high), which stopped any char or trout to live upstream. Japanese native white spotted-char and masu-trout was introduced first, then hatchery imported eggs from the US including brook trout who became the dominant speci in the area. Raibow, brown, and even lake trout joined this area later which makes this fishery trout central.


Shallow Wading Game in Lake Chuzenji

I stopped by Lake Chuzenji around 3:30 am for brief checking on the condition of fishery.  I found tons of smelt gilttering in the shallows darting from something, which was good indication of lake trout or brown trout feeding in shallows, so I decdided to give it a try.


I took my 6wt tackle with shooting head and started to shallow wade on the side which was downwind and slowly headed for big rock sitting by the water indicating the possibe change in the underwater landscape. I scanned water temperature which was marking 14C all along, then the area nearby the rock makred 16C which could pass for great restraurant for big browns and lakes. It was around 4am. I didn’t have to wait much until I start seeing the first school of fish eaters boiling for smelts.

I tied black wooly bugger and casted at school, no bites. Boil continued on, so I changed to olive marabou streamer and got the first bite, but it didn’t set hook. As I tried for further chance, school started to swim away, I casted as far as possible and got small strike on my fly and hook set! It felt violent in the beginning, but then it didn’t struggle too hard which turned out to be a raibow trout in 30’s. The rainbow trout acted funny that he didn’t show much restistance until he saw my landing net, then it darted with incredible speed then hooked off. So the first school tunred out to be raibow trouts and they went beyond my reach after the nearmiss.

Misty Monster in the Shallow


Then around 5:30am, I heard a big splashing noise on my back where I came from. When I looked back I saw a big fin and back of fish sticking out of water in the shallow where water is no deeper than knee level. Then I saw a big brown or lake trout in 60 or 70cm’s slowly circling for its violent feeding. Damn! This fish could be granted from the fly fishing heaven as gratitude to my humble visit to the holy place? I thanked god for such lucky moment.

Then I casted the marabou streamer softly in front of the fish couple of  times, it didn’t show any interest and continued to attack the smelt in shallow. I changed my fly to bunny, but it was still the same result. Another fish appeared in the shallow who are altogether completely ignoring my puny presentations, so I changed my fly to EP minnow.

After the second cast, the first fish noticed the fly and turned towards it, but it did not take the fly. Then I attempted 3 more casts and either the first or the second fish were tightly chasing the streamer whom I saw right behind my streamer when I pulled it closed myself. No more space to retrieve, then as soon as the streamer slowed down, I saw lake trout turned back and disappeared.

It was already passed 6:30am and I saw no further sign of incoming school, so I left the place and headed for Yukawa River for stream game.

Result and Data: NO FISH BUT DATA

No catch on my first fly fishing trial on this lake, but I learnt great lessons for the next visit.

– Location: Shallow shore of Lake Chuzenji
– Time, Light, and Weather: 4:00-6:00, dimmly dark, and misty
– Tempareature: air at 16C, water at 14-16C
– Bait: smelt
– Game: raibow trout > 2 hits 1 hook 0 catch
– Game: lake trout > no hit

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