Genryu Fishing in Japan #1

Stories of Genryu

by Keiichi Okushi

I have been doing fishing for more than 40 years since I was a kid, and for about last 20 years I mainly did “Keiryu fishing (mountain stream fishing)” using flies. I do both Tenkara fishing and Fly fishing. Anyway my most favorite fishing field is "Keiryu" and I especially love “Genryu fishing”

“Genryu” is the most upper part of a river, even upper part of “keiryu (mountain stream)” and here in Japan image of “Genryu” is always with fast flow of gin clear water running through big rocks in a beautiful valley surrounded by flourishing forests of the mountains.

For us fishers “Genryu” means the most upper part of mountain streams where we can fish. In my fishing field, central part or north part of main island, mostly target fish is Iwana. Yamame lives lower part than iwana usually.

“Genryu” is a stream normally very apart from human living area. It is located very deep in the mountains, no car road is along the streams, and we can only leach there on foot walking through the small foot path or some times climb over the mountain ridge.

2 or 3 times a year, we go to “Genryu” wearing 60L backpacks with life equipment and foods and stay there for 2 or 3 nights setting base camp by the stream.

We have many mountains and forests in Japan. About 65% of our land is covered by forests and there are so many beautiful streams. The place like “Genryu”, forests, mountains or streams have not been changed its appearance may be for some ten thousands of years. So beautiful and so glory. In “Genryu” we fish and wade the river upstream, climb over water falls, cross the strong but gin clear scurrent, sometimes swim across deep pools. Views of “Genryu” changes dramatically and beautifully. After every corner or vent of the stream we find different views. We often try to hike up the stream to “Sakana-dome” (Fish stop water fall) looking forward to get a fight with a giant iwana but we enjoy not only fishing. We enjoy whole of nature.

By the evening, we go back to the base camp and start dinner by the stream. We firstly make bonfire and start cooking by the fire. We may make iwana sashimi or shioyaki. If the season is right we pick up “Sansai (mountain plants)” and cook tempura with them. We enjoy good food and drink. This is a big fun of one another in Genryu.

When we notice the valley is covered in total darkness and star-filled night sky is spreading in the sky. We are conversing with each other to forget of time and sleep in the murmuring of the river.