Genryu Fishing of Japan #20

First Genryu fishing trip in 2015

In early June, we went on our first genryu fishing trip of this season to the stream in Iwate, north part of main-land. It is the harvest time of Nemagari-take bamboo shoots in Iwate. We were invited from a friend of mine, Mr. Okabe, a famous keiryu fisher living in Iwate. We were a group of 4 people.

I had been to the stream several times and it was my favorite stream. I remembered it took about 3 hours to the stream crossing over the mountain ridge from the car parking, but Okabe-san phoned me before our departure and told the forest road was collapsed by land-slide. So we had to walk another 1 hour to go to the stream. It happens quite often in the mountains. We were telling ourselves this kind of trouble is unavoidable.

It is about 5 hours by car taking motorway from my hometown to Iwate. I picked up 2 friends on the way and arrived at meeting place with Okabe-san around mid-night.

There were full of stars in the night sky but it was very windy. We knew that low pressure was crossing the northern Japan. Anyway we moved to the end of the forest road and talked about recent topics and fishing with beer. Luckily it was not very windy in the forest as it is in a valley. Talking was so fun but we decided to sleep for 3 hours and lay down in a car and tents.

It was clear and sunny in the morning when we woke up. Still windy but it supposed to be stopped by noon. We quickly packed the gears and foods in backpacks. Our backpacks are quite light as it was 1 night camping. We started walking after quick breakfast and exactly 1 hour later we arrived at car parking. We entered to trail up a mountain from there and in about 20 minutes we reached to bamboo grove. In fact it is not ordinary big bamboos. Nemagari-take is kind of big arrow bamboo. This time of the year we have shoots of Nemagari-take in the mountains of central and north parts of Main-land and Hokkaido. It is very tasty bamboo shoots and many people go into the mountains to pick Nemagari-take shoots during this season. We can eat Nemagari-take with various way of cooking. Tempra, grilled, boiled and putting in miso-soup. We talked to have bamboo shoots with tempra and miso-soup for dinner.

We got enough bamboo shoots for dinner in about 15 minutes and climbed the trail to the ridge line. Then we had glorious view of mountains and fresh green forests from the ridge line. There were some white snowy gorges and contrast of fresh green and blue sky was so beautiful. We walked through the ridge line for about 40 minutes and went down to the stream. We could pick some other mountain plants on the way too. It finally took us about 4 hours and half and we arrived at the temba(camp site) by the stream at 11 am. We set up tarps and zelt in case of cold night.

After having lunch and rest we split into 2 groups and went fishing. Okabe-san told us that he would make Iwana-sushu for dinner. As for fishing, the stream was not in a very good condition. We had lots of snow in the last winter but it became very hot too quickly in the spring. That unusual heat made run-off like big swollen torrent. It made the streambed very sandy and destroyed good spots for fish. We could feel the water was bit too cold also. Despite all of that, we could find some iwana in gentle stream and they showed us good reactions to the fly. We enjoyed nice fights of 27 cm class iwana.

The mountains of those areas are gently sloping, and the stream is also very gentle and had slow current. The stream is very easy to wade for fishers. We enjoyed fishing until 4:00 pm and returned to temba by 5:00 pm.

Okabe-san was already there and making sushi-rice. He is professional fisher and his cooking skill is also like professional. He made Iwana-sushi in a moment. We toasted with beer and tasted the fresh sushi. We normally do catch and release even in genryu but sometimes keep minimal number of fish and eat. We appreciated blessing of the mountains and life. Sushi on that evening was so good.

Next menu was with Nemagari-take. We pealed the skins of bamboo shoots and starting tempra. We eat it with salt. It is very simple but best way to eat those flesh bamboo shoots. It tastes like highest quality sweet corns. One friend was first time to eat Nemagari-take, and he said “Let’s pick some more bamboo shoots on the return way.”

We laughed and agreed with him. I cooked miso-soup with bamboo shoots. Those hot meals keep us warm from the cold of the night.

We slept only for 2 or 3 hours a night before, but we had a lot of fun conversation and delicious cuisines and stayed until late at night.

It was not so cold at night. I woke up with sounds of rain in the morning. We were not in the mood of fishing in the rain. So we had breakfast slowly and break the camp. By 9:30 am the rain was almost stopped. We cleaned temba very well as it was before we came. We thank god of the mountain and prayed for safe return journey and left temba.

On the way we picked some mountain plants and Nemagari-take shoots. By the time we reached onto the ridge line, the blue sky had spread and we could see the beautiful views of the distant mountains. I felt our genryu season had just begun this year again and walked down the trail.