From the rows upon rows of market garden allotments, the mountain air, clear streams and the scarcity of people it is hard to believe that Yozawa is still in fact part of the city of Tokyo. Fly fishing at Yozawa is usually catch and release for me, but at the river there is a stall selling local farmers’ produce and this time of the year means the local specialty vegetable of the Itsukaichi area, norabou (I have no idea what it is in English) which I look forward to cooking with. I also laid in some eggs – not silkie unfortunately, but still free range – and some locally produced honey. The wild boar curry, now a regular purchase whenever I am in the area, was bought at the station shop.
under the sakura cherry blossoms…
Despite the copious, long-winded fetishism associated with fly fishing – if a trout were caught for every word written on the subject of fly fishing, surely the poor creatures would have been extinct in the last century – I have found here stream fishing in Japan, just two flies produce at least 90% of all my catches: parachute Adams and hare’s ear. Today was no exception; this wild rainbow was taken on a green #16 Adams…
Lacquered the wrapped parts of the tanago rod with red, then ground away small patches of it to create the traditional lacquer pattern known as negoro. Real urushi lacquer (as opposed to cashew-based or synthetic varnishes) becomes brighter with time and the red colour will come out a lot richer and fuller in two or three years’ time. The rod in this state is still incomplete and wants a few more finishing layers to get up a nice deep sheen, especially on the black parts.
Catch and release fly fishing means finding other foods for the evening meal. The shop in the station nearest the stream sells a number of local specialties, including packaged heat-and-eat wild boar curry…
…and “long-life” udon noodles, quite long indeed:
did the trick. This of course was a net I bought ready-made last year but raw bamboo, which I lacquered by hand myself and then had the knotted netting replaced with a synthetic knotless mesh.
It was nice to catch a wild rainbow trout on my trusted Thebault silk line and then land the creature with my home-lacquered net. The weather was terrible and precluded catching yamame, but the rainbows, wild and stocker, put up a good show and I was not disappointed, although everything was on nymphs or wet flies. The fishery is always good for ornithology and the crowning glory of the day was, for me perhaps, spotting a very unseasonal wariangle/shrike (Linnaeus’ L. bucephalus) – my first in Japan, and what I take to be a good omen. Thanks as always to Yozawa trout stream and I hope to catch some yamame on a dry fly when the weather improves!
It was nice to get in a day of fly fishing lessons when I was in England last month. I must say I learnt a great deal in just a day of tuition with a professional instructor, with the added bonus of some good fish and at a very nice stillwater fishery. For anyone wanting to get into fly fishing, I highly recommend investing in some fly casting lessons: you will not regret it.
The lake was stocked with rainbow trout of a middling size, but they were well-finned, thick-waisted and very hard fighting fish. Indeed I was so surprised by the power of the first fish I hooked he broke my leader before I could react. So much more exciting than some of the rather sluggish and shop-worn stockers I have sometimes encountered here in Japan. My instructor and guide was very nice and patient and showed me a great variety of tips and techniques, and like so many anglers, was a keen naturalist too. We spoke at length about the wildlife to be spotted around the fishery, and as we arrived in his car an enormous buzzard took off and flew away right in front of us; a most gratifying sight. Even more so when the same bird returned in the late afternoon twilight and perched on a tree almost above my head! Other species I spotted that day were egret, heron and at dusk I was treated to the unmistakeable call of a barn owl. Later some gathering egrets were scattered by a doe deer bursting out into the open and running across the open. The instructor showed me a variety of tactics: wet patterns, buzzer, later a dry fly and then at the end of the day, the infamous Klink & Dink set-up, which produced two takes in rapid succession. For a number of reasons, I did not keep any of the fish I caught that day and all trout landed were released. I was content with what I had learnt that day, a couple of very amusing plays with game, hard-fighting trout, a hefty pie and ale pub lunch and the excellent company. I cannot thank enough my instructor for the day, Mr. Mick Siggery, for the great day out. Though it sounds like lunacy I turned down the offer of having the lesson on the River Test; since I wanted to start learning from scratch at the most basic level I went for a day on stillwater that would not require wading or traipsing great distances. There is always next time!
Many thanks to my ghillie for the day, Sig. Luca Castellani, who also took this video of my first brown trout (the fish in the previous post) on the River Tevere tail water.