I headed up to Tochigi so we could meet up and head to the Omoi river. With the cold snap we expected to be crawling the bottom for reluctant fish, but as always decided to fish different tactics in the beginning. Chuck went with a heavily weighted craw pattern on a long leader and I went with a big streamer on an intermediate, as sometimes they'll still move to eat or kill one even when it's freezing. Possibly, because the warm weather had hung on so long the ayu - they stock the river quite heavily - were still spawning or flapping around dying post spawn, several weeks behind schedule. It didn't take long before we saw some bass chasing the spawners and toying with the dying ones like a cat with a mouse. At first glance you might think this is an excellent sign, but in reality it seems to provide us with pretty difficult fishing. The bass aren't hungry, they know what they're eating - 10" weakened/ distracted ayu which are easy to catch-and there's an abundance forage. It's cool to see the bass behaving like this but it can be frustrating watching large fish following your streamer repeatedly but consistently refusing to commit. Occasionally we manage to get a reaction bite by fishing something large and garish, or an odd fish makes a mistake on a dead drifted bucktail, but they don’t give themselves up easily. The best option is usually to try and pick up a fish that’s not able to get into a prime positions in the pool so willing to pick up a craw or something else. But it’s a low percentage game.
Chuck was a bit downstream from me and managed one pick up on one of his hyper utilitarian craws but dropped the fish. After an hour or so I switched to a hellgrammite under an indicator, slowly drifting it around likely structure resulted in one eat that I didn’t put the hook in. It didn’t take much longer for both of us to accept that the 2 degree water was beating us, even if it didn’t seem to be a problem for the smallies. Back with our tails between our legs for a coffee and a seat in front of the heater we went. Maybe it's an age thing, but the few hours talking fishing and tying in the warmth was definitely the more enjoyable choice for the afternoon.