Martyn White | Thursday, 10 June 2021

On Monday, I went to a river I'd never been to before. A steep, fast little mountain river, full of pocket water and small plunge pools a population of sea run and resident yamame and a population of rainbows that's a mix between stocked and wild fish.

I'm not the greatest at fishing this kind of river, as I tend to spend more time on rivers with gentler gradients, riffles and bigger pools. But I do enjoy it a lot. Tricky wading, sneaking behind rocks and dropping bushy dries or heavy nymphs into the soft spots. The fish might not be that big, but it can be magic. There wasn't much in the way of hatching insects but there were a few stonefly nymph shucks on the rocks and plenty of ants all around the place. Promising! Even though it was running a little high and fast I was quite pleased when I got there and saw that the river seemed to be empty of other anglers.

Unfortunately despite about a hundred mile journey, it wasn't long before I encountered some people fishing, mostly they were fishing for ayu. You can easily tell an ayu fisherman by the 30ft rod they wave around, it's a strange way of fishing where they essentially rig one ayu as a livebait and dangle it in likely looking spots around the river to catch another one. Basically these guys are buying live fish to go to the river and try to catch the same kind of fish that is probably a stockie from the same hatchery that supplies their bait. It baffles me really.

The real problem is that the trout don't care if an angler is fishing for another species, they still get spooked by their presence. It's especially troublesome as the ayu people don't seem to worried about being unobtrusive. So rather than picking my way upstream I ended up getting out of the river and trekking upstream a few miles to see what I could find. Eventually I got clear of other rods, as far as I could tell at least, and started fishing again. I found some likely looking spots but only managed to catch a few chub type things. Better than nothing I suppose, but not what I was after. I'm always amazed at how tolerant of other rods Japanese anglers seem to be, I just can't get used to it.  But more than finding other people fishing I hate how hard it is to avoid around here.