Back from a 2-day trip to Kaida-Kogen in Nagano prefecture. The event was incredibly fun, and I got to meet wonderful people.
In this picture Dr. Ishigaki teaching the class on day 2. Among other things he talked about the order one should try fishing a spot, start from the end of the pool and working your way up. He also demonstrated how working a spot from different directions can allow you to use different techniques (e.g. natural drift from below, pausing the fly from the side, dragging the fly from above, etc.)
Fishing was pretty difficult. I scored a few on Saturday, but got skunked yesterday. I had many drifts where I really expected a fish but nothing bit. I finally had a very nice rise at the end of the day, after Dr. Ishigaki and I had fished 3 other streams in the last couple of hours, and were at the end of our final 200 meter stretch with no bites of any kind. I got my fly to hang in one small spot long enough to get the interest of a fish, but I didn’t hook it.
The best thing about fishing frequently with someone who is a lot more experienced than you, is the confidence it gives you. Dr. Ishigaki likes to move quickly, so we’ll fish a stretch of a stream pretty fast and if nothing is happening we get on the car and check out a different section or different stream, as water temps or other factors may be different. But, there are days when it’s just not you, nor your technique, nor your flies, it’s just that the fish are not up to eating and there is not much that can be done about it.As has often been said, if it were much easier we wouldn’t call it “fishing”, we’d call it “catching”.
Preparing to fish a stream in the evening, the first of 3 Dr. Ishigaki would try in a couple of hours:
Moss-covered walls like these seem to be a constant presence on many streams. Walls have been built to prevent erosion of stream banks, since the water can get pretty high during heavy rains.
Our last stretch:
The inn we stayed in was pretty cool, a definite angler’s hangout. It’s called Mt. Ontake and run by Kazumitsu Suzuki and his wife. Here’s the URL for reference: http://www.mtontake.jp/. They served an awesome dinner and breakfast and at a very reasonable price.
The spot is a regular destination for employees of the Patagonia store, which is how they got connected with Dr. Ishigaki. Last year he gave them a class on tenkara, and we’ll be there again this coming weekend to show them tenkara. It’s incredibly interesting how tenkara, Tenkara USA and the Patagonia company keep getting connected.
Suzuki-san and I got along great. He doesn’t speak English, but we were able to converse quite well about cameras, tenkara fishing, skiing and climbing Mt. Ontake, a trip we hope to do together next year. He even told me of a “secret” spot in Mt. Ontake area where he recently found several large Iwana but no one fishing as it’s a bit difficult to access. I may even be able to visit it before I leave.
Yesterday as the class took place, Suzuki-san took me around to fish in a couple of spots in the area. Suzuki-san is also a patrol for the streams in his area is responsible for checking anglers’ licenses. As he drove me around we stopped a couple of anglers. One didn’t have a license, but he readily pulled money to pay for it. Licenses typically cost about 1,000yen for a day ($12), and there is a penalty of 800yen if you’re caught without a license. Most people buy the license ahead of time, but it is a bit inconvenient to find the location to purchase one, so I don’t blame them for taking the chances without one.