ALL good fly fishermen know that trout only ever live in beautiful places. With its many tributaries, the stunning Shiribetsu River is home to a wonderful array of freshwater fish species.
As the summer progresses, so does the available fish menu. From June through early July Cherry Salmon and Rainbow Trout are most prevalent in all the local streams (though Cherry Salmon are a stipulated catch-and-release fish), and from July through August they are joined by the local Iwana and Yamame.
With a huge variety of large stream and small tributary settings, there’s something for everyone. On top of that, lakes like Shikotsu, which all visitors pass by on their way from Chitose airport, are full of Brown Trout and Red Salmon.
Locals appear to use larger size rods, have a definite preference for nymphs over dry flies, tend to cast across and down rather than upstream, and catch big fish at night – for those prepared to stay out late.
No fishing licences are required in Hokkaido (though they are in mainland Japan), and some local fishing guide services are available.
The undisputed master of fly fishing and all of its intricacies in Niseko is Hirotsugu Hashimoto, owner of the Village House pension in Hirafu and brilliant owner/chef at Shunsai Restaurant in Kutchan (where dining guests on some nights share tables with his students of the arcane art of fly-tying).
Local knowledge is always the key to success in fly fishing, so Hashimoto-san should be the first port of call for any visiting enthusiast. He has a good supply of fishing gear, including waders, at very moderate prices.