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Old 11-18-2008, 09:49 PM
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Default Japan on the Fly

I just got back from a business trip to Japan and while I was there I managed to sneak in a couple of days fishing on one of their steep gradient mountain freestone streams Northeast of Tokyo. I fished with a person that I met on the internet; Hideto Yoshida, a real trout afficionado who loves to fish for wild trout in these mountain streams.

He picked me up at my hotel in Tokyo at 4:00AM and by 7:30AM we had reached our destination; high up in the mountains near the picturesque town of Nikko. Once we got there, the first challenge was to see if you were "balanced" enough to even get to the fishing (see below pic of the "bridge" to the lodge).

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...198-005_2A.JPG

Once across the stream (yes, I made it!), you were at the lodge (below). Very simple, very quaint, very friendly.

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-019_16A.JPG

There you were greated by Hiro-san (below pic), the river keeper and the owner of 10 square kilometers of mountain woodland called Shalom's Forest; which just happens to have a wild trout stream running through it; a main stem and two branches. Hiro is the 4th generation owner of this property, which was originally purchased by his great-great grandfather for logging; to support the considerable building that they did during the early part of the Meiji Restoration (mid-1860's). Now, the woodlands are virtually worthless, from a lumbering standpoint; but the trout fishing is worth a lot! And only 8 anglers per day get to fish for them (a fishing pressure of about 600 anglers per year spread out over about 10 miles of steam - not bad!)


http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...198-003_0A.JPG

I mentioned that this was steep gradient fishing. What I didn't say was that it's steep enough to be part of the Japanese national flood control system. The dam below is a "little" one; about 40 ft. high. In the spring, they say that it barely holds back the water! (below pic)

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...198-010_7A.JPG

Here's the "big" one. It's an easy 100' from top to bottom! I'd love to see it in the Spring when the river is really running. Think of the volume of water that can get through the lower port holes. Not bad from a small mountain stream! (below pic)

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...198-007_4A.JPG

And, of course, nice water gives up an occasional nice fish, like this rainbow. Not stocked, look at the mouth. About 14" and a real pleasure to land on a #16 parachute Adams! (below pic). Yes, US patterns definitely work in Japan on their native trout.

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...198-008_5A.JPG


Here's what the water looks like. This is from one of the two branches, which is called the "L" branch; yes, there is some English influence here. (below pic)

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-017_14A.JPG

More of the same. For a person like me who likes to fish pocket water, it was great! (below pic)

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-013_10A.JPG

Did I mention that the climbing in was challenging - well, it definitely was - one third climbing down / one third sliding down / one third falling down! The climbing back out was even more interesting! (below pic)

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-015_12A.JPG

One more shot. I love this kind of water!

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-027_24A.JPG

And here is the native trout; called a "Yamame". Yes, they're all little fish; average size is 4-7 inches. Give me a break and think of the background stones as boulders and think of the net as the largest trout net you ever saw! Thanks. It was a 5" "troutlet" - but it was fun on my 7'6" 3 wt. Sage ZXL rod. (below pic) Caught, by the way, on a #18 parachute Adams.

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-026_23A.JPG

At the end of the day, my new friend, Hideto, had to hit the road back to Tokyo (he works as a Product Manager for Dell computers), but I decided to stay on and fish another day. I stayed at a traditional Japanese Inn, called a Ryokan. The little blonde Japanese woman was the owner and can she ever cook! Yes! (below pic)

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-020_17A.JPG

The room was typically Japanese spartan. Very nice, clean; futton bed, tatami mats; small Zen alter, etc. I liked it a lot. (below pic)

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-022_19A.JPG

And when the two days were over, Hiro packed me up in his pickup and took me to the train station; with a little train that leaves every hour on the hour like clockwork. This is the Sori (pronounced "Souri") station. From there, 3 train changes, 3 1/2 hours later, and I was back at Tokyo station.

http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/ph...98-002_00A.JPG

It was great! I will go back; yes, even for the little fish!

I forgot to mention that on the second morning I was making my way down the "R" branch; it was early and the sun was just coming up with a thin fog still in the valley. I rounded a corner and there was a "two log" stairway across the river gorge, with a little path leading from there up a steep hill to the base of a huge boulder. In front of the bounder was an ancient Japanese torii; the name that they use for the "gates" that they place in front of sacred places (Shinto religion). Just at that moment, the sun broke through the mist, the bridge, the path and the torii all lighted up. I dropped my rod (no, I didn't place it on the ground - I dropped it!), walked across that bridge and just enjoyed being under that gate in that moment. A couple of minutes later, I caught my first fish of the day!

I feel another Japan fishing trip coming.

Hope you enjoy the pics, as you can tell, the camera wasn't the greatest.

Best,

Pocono
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

Pocono

Great story and photos of your trip! Thanks for sharing.

Larry
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

That experience looks and sounds superb! And, I really liked your narrative with the pictures intermixed.

Glad you're back though .........now you can tie up those flies for our winter fly swap! Just kidding!........if you'd have had the chance to put in another week over there, heck I'd have covered you on the fly swap!
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Old 11-18-2008, 11:36 PM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

That is amazing, and I hope to fish Japan one of these days!
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Old 11-19-2008, 01:25 AM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

What a great experience!!

Beautiful scenery, and nice people. Looks like you had a very good time.
I admire the Japanese Culture.
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Old 11-19-2008, 09:17 PM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

Beautiful.

Japan is on my "to fish list" now
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Old 11-19-2008, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

wow you are lucky!
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

Hey, that was a great fishing report! Do they use any patterns over there that we rarely use over here? Or maybe are unique for Japan? Awsome pics too!
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:33 PM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

thats a great question tgood
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Old 11-22-2008, 06:05 AM
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Default Re: Japan on the Fly

Greenwood,

I'm tying this weekend; an ostrich herl and CDC midge pattern of my own that I tie on the front half of a #19 Teimco.

Tgoodwater2002 / GeorgeMcFly,

Yes, I think that they do have some "Japan-specific" trout flies (at least I've never seen these ties before; but I'm certainly not a fly expert).

One of the people that I rode with to get to the fishing on the first day (all of us packed in the back of Hiro-san's little Suzuki pick-up truck bumping our way over 5 kilometers of dirt road), was working for the Japanese Foreign Ministry; actually he's transferring to Washington, DC in January, 2009, to be part of their US Embassy team, gave me 3 flies that he said worked well for Yamame. I tried them and, frankly, didn't think that they could hold a candle to the para Adams pattern. But in pocket water I fish "US style"; casting across and down with long dead drifts, while most of the Japanese Yamame anglers dap their flies and dance them along the surface with leader only out of the tip of the rod. So, his flies may work better for that application. I know he caught fish that day; he passed me later in the day riding a bicycle back to the lodge. He stopped smiled and held up 3 fingers. I was at the outflow of the big dam at that point and wasn't quite in the mood to climb back out of the gorge to discuss his catch, but when he opened his fly box to give me the flies, I could see a lot of patterns that I've never seen before.

By the way, as he handed me the flies, he took his rod out of the old stained rod sock that he'd been holding onto while we bumped along in the truck; it was an antique Leonard cane rod. And out of his vest came with an equally old Hardy Perfect reel to go with it. Very nice set up!

I'll take a couple of pictures of the 3 flies and post them to the forum later this weekend. Then you can have a look at them and let me know what you think.
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