Right after the two-day “Itoshiro Lure Festival,” in which I attended as a Vanfook Field Staff member on May 28th, I took a ferry from Tsuruga Port in Fukui Prefecture to Hokkaido, a 20-hour ferry ride away.
As soon as I landed, I drove about 200 km to Lake Shikaribetsu in East Hokkaido during the special open period has been effected.
Although it was the end of May, the morning chill was so severe that it was chilly without an outer layer of clothing. As I was getting ready for the event, participants began to gather at the registration desk. I joined in the flow of the participants to check in the registration, and received a guidance that also served as an explanation of the regulations.
This time, I targeted Miyabe Char mainly by casting from the shore. It is the endemic species in the Lake Shikaribetsu (technical name: Salvelinus malma miyabei).
Since the regulations require a single barbless hook, I mainly used size #1 in LSP-40F with a crushed barb.
I selected LSP-40F for the following three reasons.
- Miyabe Char has a soft mouth, and hook with the thicker wire will lead to a fish breaking its mouth during a fight, so I chose LSP-40F which has thinner wire.
- Rainbow Trout, Cherry Salmon, and Japanese Dace are the species that can be caught at the same time, but the maximum size is around 60 cm for Rainbow, so the LSP-40F would be sufficient.
- Focus on initial hooking
Since Cherry Salmon were under the ban period this time, they had to be released immediately after being measured in order to record for the survey requested by the organizer.
The water temperature was 9.2 degrees Celsius according to the organizer, which is the best water temperature for Miyabei Char, but it was a little too cold for Rainbow, which was another target of this time. According to the staff, the topwater is surprisingly good, so I decided to fish widely in the morning.
I spooned by lifting and falling near the bottom, which is my specialty. I tried to entice them with a vertical line and let them bite on the fall.
When I felt something fishy, I immediately hook the fish. After all, the morning is very active. I was relieved to be greeted by a beautiful Miyabe Char.
Next, a Rainbow Trout hit near the breakline in front of me as I reeled in from the bottom.
It was not so big, but its silver body with each fin stretched taut was very rare to see. Although it is not paid much attention in Lake Shikaribetsu fishing, this fish can be said to have a respectable other side.
As I gradually moved up the range, the bites continued to come in.
At 7 o’clock, I was consistently getting bites with a 15g spoon slowly reeled in on the surface.
I could somehow get a feel for the atmosphere: small Cherry Salmon were migrating, and the persistent bites over a long distance were Cherry Salmon, while the bites that came at the right time with a stay were Miyabe Char.
This photo shows my customer’s catch using the LSP-40F.
When targeting Char in Honshu (main island Japan,) anglers tend to fish with structure, but here the Char responded on the surface of open water (immediately after landing on the water). This is something I have not experienced before, so it was very fresh for me.
I was very happy with the constant bites, but as I caught more and more fish, and there were times when I could not get a fish to bite due to the tips of the hooks seemed to become dull.
I changed the hook to a new one after about five catches in a row. I always keep in mind to check the hook tip and replace it.
I was able to consistently catch fish on the surface without any color rotation until around 8:30. As the sun got higher, the range of the fish seemed to gradually drop, but I was able to get bites out of them with lift-and-falls involving bottom bumps.
During the day, the fish stopped responding when the conditions became very calm and sunny, and we had to pause for a while. But, in the latter half of the day, the wind changed direction and the fish started biting offshore on the bottom. I was able to increase the number of catches at the end of the day.
We stopped fishing at 2:00 p.m. and returned home safely within the prescribed time (3:00 p.m.). The day ended with the completion of the survey form.
As a result, I was able to catch a satisfactory total of 16 fish, but I felt that I could further increase my catch by improving the fishing patterns after the sun became high in the sky.
However, the best part of fishing is not the number of catches, but being able to feel the beauty of Miyabe Char up close.
I think it is also a delightful way to enjoy the encounter with a single fish without worrying about the outcome of the fishing trip.
Why don’t you come and visit Lake Shikaribetsu in Hokkaido? You can encounter Miyabe Char while feeling the magnificent nature.