I don’t normally use a landing net whilst fly fishing, as the fish I target are small enough to subdue without; those that aren’t destined for the slab I release at the water’s edge. However, I broke down when seeing this net at the excellent fly angling shop Tsuruya as I thought it might come out very nicely if lacquered with urushi. It came already strung with a knotted net so I asked the ever-helpful shop-man to remove it, and he will re-fit it with a knotless mesh net when I have finished the lacquering.
The net is about 22cm across at its most narrow, which is more than big enough for most of the kinds of fish I catch, such as the yamame I photographed in a previous diary, and rainbow trout such as this one:
Whilst the rainbow trout is farmed and released as a game fish around the world – from my own England to the far reaches of Japan and even Australasia – it generally does not establish breeding populations as the water temperature does not go low enough. One exception to this is Yozawa river in west Tokyo, where I caught this creature; it is definitely too small to be a stocker and is most likely the descendant of the rainbows released in the river over half a century ago by the American and Itsukaichi resident Thomas Blakemore. The story goes that the river so reminded him of his own native Oklahoma he bought land in the area and paid to set up a trout game fishery, which exists to this day: Yozawa Trout Stream. His patronage is memorialised by this plaque, which is on display outside the stream manager’s office, and inside are many photographs of the man himself, fishing the stream he loved.
Non-Japanese anglers are welcomed at Yozawa to this day, including an English-language explanation of the river rules and a map, and the staff are very friendly and helpful. They run a 4km-stretch of the river and most parts are accessible without waders. When the fish aren’t biting there is also ample opportunity for bird-watching, including kingfishers, wagtails and birds of prey. I hope to be on the river tomorrow!