• High water

    Monday, July 16 was a national holiday in our country and consequently we had 3 consecutive day offs on that weekend. I had been wondering if I would go fishing in those holidays. We had heavy rain every day, which is the norm in the end of the rainy season, meaning that rivers might be too high to fish. Also, I was tired. My father fell ill and he has been in hospital since last November. My mother died 10 years ago and he lives alone. I go to the hospital and see him every two weeks, alternately with my younger brother so that either my brother or I see my father every weekend. There are things that have to be done for him, but it is especially hard for me to see my old man, who taught me the joy of fishing, who looked so mighty and powerful that it seemed as if nothing could beat him when I was a kid, deteriorating physically and mentally. I was also busy with work. So, I was tired, but the urges for fishing, the thought of me standing in a cool mountain stream where iwana dwell, finally overcame my laziness.
    I left home in the evening of Friday. It was raining hard on my way, but it stopped raining before I bought a day’s fishing license at a convenience store close to mountains around midnight. I parked at a roadside opening and took a nap in the car.
    In the morning, it was drizzling again. The water was very high in most of the stretches of the river that I had intended to fish. I first went to the gate of the logging road along a tributary stream, but there was a car, which apparently belonged to a fisherman, in front of the gate.
    A few hundred meters below the gate, there was a campsite along the stream, where the stream is rather wide open and seemed fishable.

    I set a bead head hare’s ear and an indicator and began fishing. Soon after that, I saw the car parked at the gate running away downstream, but I kept fishing anyways.
    The first fish was amago.

    Next, amago again, good size for this species.

    I was told this was an iwana stream, so it was a bit surprising. The third was finally iwana; a nice one too.

    Then, I added another small iwana. Fish were all very active. The indicator was violently pulled upstream every time. Perhaps they hadn’t fed for a while because of very high water. I fished less than a hundred meters before the open fishable water ended at the upper end of the campsite. Further upstream, the stream narrowed and there was no flat water to put in the nymph. I understood the person of the car at the gate had also given up fishing because of the high water.
    On a map, I looked for smaller creeks where the water level might decrease faster, and headed for one which seemed rather promising. I pulled over at an opening beside the logging road along the creek, and walked through cedar woods to the stream.

    The water looked good, and I changed the nymph to a dry fly.

    The creek was filled with many innocent tiny amago, but there was no response from good fish. Again, I decided to go to another stream.
    The water was still high in the next creek and it was barely fishable.

    Nevertheless, small iwana eagerly snatched my offering in occasional slow flat water created by boulders in the periphery of the stream.

    This was the biggest fish I caught in this stream. The weather finally cleared up.

    That night, I stayed at “Re-Rise”, a fly fisher’s inn. The place was rather crowded because there was a fly fishing school held by a fly fishing pro shop.

    Although everybody hoped otherwise, it rained hard again during the night and rivers were refilled with too much water that had lowered close to fishable levels in the previous day.
    Some people who stayed in Re-Rise went to a nearby fishing pond in the next day. I drove around all day long looking for any fishable streams, though even very small streams were blown out and I couldn’t wave a rod on this day.

    On the last day, most of the streams were still difficult to fish. I went to a small creek following a suggestion by Nahuji-san, the owner of the lodge. The creek rushes down on a steep slope of a mountain that divides two major river drainages. Although the weather was finally very fine, it was dark in the creek because of tall cedar woods.

    The water of the creek there had already lowered enough for dry fly fishing. Iwana were very active but they were all small.

    There must be bigger fish that spawned these small ones, since the creek is not stocked in this stretch, which is divided by a dam from the lower part, but I couldn’t see even a hint of larger fish.
    Nahuji-san told me that the iwana in this upper stretch of the creek belong to a different strain and that the color pattern of the body is different from that of the iwana in the main drainage.

    He says the top of the mountain is marshy grassland which is the headwater of both this creek and another creek that drains into the other watershed and the iwana of the upper stretch of this creek came over from the other side of the mountain. But I wasn’t sure if iwana I caught were different from the ones in the main stem of the stream.

    I called it a day and headed home at around noon to avoid the traffic congestion of the evening of the last day of the consecutive holidays. Fishing was certainly slow this time, but it was at least a thousand times better than staying home and watching TV.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: High water started by Satoshi View original post
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Chris Raine's Avatar
      Chris Raine -
      What a great way to start my new membership on this forum: reading Satoshi's post! Wonderful description of the fishing holiday, and great photos! I think the Upper Sac, my home waters, can be classified as a small stream some months. Mats and Anders Oberg were here this week from Sweden and got to fish it a little.

      Satoshi, you are a good son to make sure your father gets to see his family on a regular basis. I too know how it is to see the great man in your life go into decline.

      Finally, a question: in the lodge picture all of the flyfishermen are drinking from the same type of bottle. Is this mineral water? Some kind of tonic?

    1. jeepster's Avatar
      jeepster -
      Very nice.
    1. Zanko's Avatar
      Zanko -
      Great photo's Satoshi.
    1. gusstrand's Avatar
      gusstrand -
      Satoshi-san, I'm so glad you have shared this. I've missed reading of your adventures, and this one, well, it was totally worth the wait. The close up of the tiny iwana is a gorgeous photo - they all are, but that one touched me.

      Chris - welcome to smallstreams, man. ;)

      Oh, and the bottles... they look like Asahi to me...
      Attachment 428
    1. Brooktrout's Avatar
      Brooktrout -
      beautiful pics, especially of the fish.
      yep, fishing sure beats couch surfing.
    1. Wallyran's Avatar
      Wallyran -
      Fabulous pictures and a wonderful story. Also a special surprise for me tonight as my own father, who taught me to fish and to love small streams, is moving to a long term care facility in the morning.

      I think your father would be very pleased to know that you opted to go fishing.
    1. adam's Avatar
      adam -
      You know I am intrigued. Is this the area of Tohoku? Is this where we spoke of?

      The Amago is beautiful, Iwanna, Amago and Yamame, got to do that, really.

      As you can see, we are all very stoked.

      Chris, welcome aboard.
    1. Satoshi's Avatar
      Satoshi -
      Welcome to the forum. As gus has guessed right, its Asahi beer.
      I sometimes look at "The Fly Shop" home page, fantasizing my fishing in rivers like "upper Sac", McCloud, or Pit ....well, I'm always fantasizing about fishing in the U.S.

      How did you bring the picture of the bottle so promptly?!

      I'm also looking for a good care facility for my father now.

      This is in the central mountain area, rather close to Shirakawago. Re-Rise is located in the mountains between the two cities, Takayama and Matsumoto. Please check in a map. If you come to Gokayama or Shirakawago and fish this area, we should stay at Re-Rise at least for a few days. Actually, Fishing was really good in this area when I went to Re-Rise with a friend in early June this year. Fishing should be better in Tohoku though. I will give you more specific information as soon as possible.

    1. tinydries's Avatar
      tinydries -
      Beautiful fish! I hardly ever post, but I read all the Stream threads, especially yours, Satoshi.
    1. njtrout's Avatar
      njtrout -
      Those Iwana so remind me of brookies. Obviously them being char is the reason but there's more and I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. Your dining hall picture reminds me of the cabin I belong to except we don't have women/a woman serving. One guy tried to sneak his girlfirend in once (a married man) though. He got a stern talking to (not by me). The PROMINANT parr marks on Amago are so fascinating. Typing of that. What are their preferences, as far as flies?
    1. ksbioteacher's Avatar
      ksbioteacher -
      Thanks for a great report, Satoshi--water, decisions, life, challenges, reflection and fish.
    1. Satoshi's Avatar
      Satoshi -
      tinydries, njtrout, ksbioteacher,

      Thank you for your comments.
      njtrout, she, who is serving in the dining of ReRise, is currently being employed by the lodge. For the flies that amago prefer, in those freestone mountain streams, they take almost anything that look edible to them, though amago rather prefers smaller flies than iwana does. I believe it's just like trout living in small mountain streams in the U.S.

    1. heathcote's Avatar
      heathcote -
      Hi Satoshi,
      what a lovely article, here in New Zealand it is midwinter and a bad one with heavy snow, then heavy rain and continous floods so no chance of casting a line. Your pictures have brightened a very dull time and I hope that your father has enjoyed them with you too.
    1. adam's Avatar
      adam -
      Satoshi, my map of Japan does not have enough detail.

      I will have to use Google Earth.

      I will also re-visit my map shop.

      We may have a visitor one or two days, Yoshikazu Fujioka. He is a Internet friend and if you don't mind, maybe he will be able to meet us. I have known him for a long time, he is a friend of smallstreams.com

      I really enjoy your post but I don't like high water...
    1. Satoshi's Avatar
      Satoshi -

      Thank you for your warm comment. I think a lot of snow probably means plenty of water in the next season.


      Of course I don't mind. Let's arrange our schedule so that we can meet him somewhere.
    1. adam's Avatar
      adam -
      Satoshi, as we get closer, I may introduce you to Mr. Fujiyoka in order for both of you to acquaint yourselves. At that time, it will be easier for the both of you to schedule our visit. I would like to stay at Gokayama village, Mr. Fujiyoka likes this area as well and may want to stay. He may want to guide us to his best stream...

      In my area, high water comes with rains, the trout hide when high water is upon us. I am lazy and am not wanting trout enough to endure high water. When I come to Japan, I hope the high water is hiding instead of the trout.
    1. Lone Wulff's Avatar
      Lone Wulff -
      Great report Satoshi. Beautiful fish and scenery. I too, hope to make it to Japan one day to fly fish. Your photos make me want to go even more. Maybe some day. It is good that you are able to spend time with your father like that. I know wha you are going through. I wish you the best of luck.
    1. ofuros's Avatar
      ofuros -
      I never tire of pics from lands so far away, who's streams hold such beautifully marked amago & iwana. .......& I hope your ailing father finds the strength he once had.