A fishing buddy and I recently took a short exploratory trek into the deepest, darkest hills of Kanagawa for some light tackle trout fishing. We found out about a stretch of fishable tributary streams that make up the watersheds of the Yozuku and Omatazawa Rivers, just east of the Tanzawa Reservoir.
There was no way of knowing what the conditions would be like on the day we visited, but we had heard some promising stories about hard-fighting wild rainbow trout and Japanese char mixed in with fish stocked by the local cooperative. It was worth taking a look, so we threw on our waders and marched in with our ultra-light four-lb. class rods to see what was biting.
The most convenient way to access the streams is to go through the “pay-to-play” area where the Yozuku and Omatazawa rivers meet. At the entrance, we talked with the supervisor who told us the water level was pretty low due to a recent dry spell. This meant the trout would be huddled in shallow pools and a bit spooky, requiring us to creep up on the spots without letting them see us – basically a matter of crouching down and casting a few meters back from the shore.
On the flip side, it also meant the fish could be hungrier than normal, as the river flow was less likely to send any nymphs or other insect larvae downstream. Another thing that played to our advantage was the absence of other fishermen on this particular day. We basically had the entire river to ourselves.
After walking about a kilometer and a half upstream, we slowly started working our way back, taking a few casts in each pool using one-to-three-gram spoons, spinners and floating minnows. The char bit at almost any lure with a gold base. The rainbows, on the other hand, were a bit of a headache.
At each pool we spotted them, they swam back and forth in tight schools, searching for hatching larvae near boulders, but they were uncomfortable because the water was so shallow. It seems they were hungry, but more interested in finding cover.
After rotating colors several times, my friend Gary finally hooked two nice rainbows on an iridescent blue-green spoon he had in his box. About 30 minutes later, I got lucky on a similar color and landed my rainbow for the day. We each caught and released about a dozen trout in the space of three hours – not bad for a natural area in Japan.
Unlike many “pay-to-play” fishing areas, the Yozuku River area is purposely undeveloped and unspoiled. Anglers who visit the streams are able to enjoy the scenery as much as the fishing. Adventurous types can trek beyond the managed area to try their hand at fishing the tiny tributary streams occupied only by wild trout which are more difficult to locate but much stronger fighters when hooked. Check out http://yozuku.com/ for details.