Genryu Fishing of Japan #5

Sakura Yamame

1st April is the opening day of the Keiryu (mountain stream) fishing season at the most of rivers in my area, but there are still lots of snows in the deep mountains, so I go a bit downstream today.

The beginning of April is also the season of “Sakura (cherry blossoms)” around my hometown. There are blooming cherry trees at parks, riversides and here and there in the town. I notice Japanese cherry blossoms have really short life in comparison with cherry blossoms in foreign countries. After blooming the first flower, a cherry tree has full bloom in a week, and may be from next day the flowers start falling, blowing by the wind, sometimes little by little and sometimes like snowstorm. We Japanese people love cherry blossoms indeed. We feel beauty and preciousness of cherry blossoms because of this short life of the flowers.

By the end of April, all the cherry blossoms are fallen and the season of the fresh green is coming to town, but in the mountains the season is still beginning of spring. Trees have just started to have green shoots, and it dyes the valley in pale green. Then, this time of the year we can find cherry trees bloomed in patches up in the mountains. These cherries are natives and we call them Yama-zakura (Mountain cherry). When we hike up the stream fishing, sometimes cherry blossom petals are falling from somewhere from up on the mountains, by the gentle breeze, in the spring sun.

As Genryu areas of high mountains are still in the snow in this season, so we go fishing to the rivers in the lower mountains or the rivers run in mountain villages. In this early keiryu fishing season and in the lower part of mountain streams we mainly fish Yamame. Yamame is such a beautiful fish. “Yamame” in kanji letters means “Mountain Lady Fish”. I really think it is good naming. The body of yamame with blue parr-marks and red spots are just like make-up of ladies.

At the very good fishing point of the stream for yamame, I cast a fly on the gin-clear water, the fly is drifted through right lane and get a bite. I enjoy a good feeling of fight and catch beautiful yamame like a jewel. After short while, I release yamame to the stream. Suddenly I am startled and standstill. The gentle breeze is going through the valley blowing few cherry blossoms petals. I stop breathing and look at the scene.

Friends of mine and I call yamame we catch in this season “Sakura Yamame”. Both cherry blossoms and yamame are so beautiful visually and also to our mind. We fish yamame and hike up the stream watching cherry blossom petals blowing by the wind, we feel that the keiryu fishing season has just come this year again.