North of Mount Naeba there are several river valleys, the most famous of which is probably Kiyotsu Gorge. Many of the rivers in the vicinity though offer some fun fishing. Motivated by the memories of last seasons fishing action I suggested to Martin and Junpei that we head there on our third and last day. While the last two days had been spent on big water the Kiyotsu region is rife with small and tight keiryu. My Tenryu Furiabo had felt a little outgunned the last few days but the rivers in this area are the Furaibo’s bread and butter.
After hiking for about thirty minutes we dropped into the river valley and deployed our rods. I spotted a few fish in the first few pools and then for about two hours we didn’t see a single fish. This was a new section of river for me and I kept telling the guys that last season the fishing was great higher up. So we pushed on to the section I had fished before. When we got there we saw a few more fish but they were very jittery and sneaking up on them was almost impossible. After about five hours of fishing I finally hooked a small Iwana and about 20 minutes later Martin nabbed one too. At the gorge that my friend Kado-san had eaten somen at last season I spotted floodwater debris 3-5 meters up in the trees next to the river. Sometime since last September there had been what looked like a very big flood. We speculated that the flood was the reason for the lackluster fishing that day. It will probably take a season for the river to bounce back. If another angler visits it though this season and pulls 25 fish from the river, it may remain devoid of fish forever…
We wrapped up the day with a nice long soak at the inexpensive inn/onsen 渓山荘 and an absolutely delicious dinner at the Kometarou (かま炊きめしやこめ太郎) restaurant. The traffic on the Kan-etsu was unusually light and so we made good time getting into Tokyo to drop off Martin at his AirBnB. He had about 12 hours until his flight back to China and a few errands to run with Go Ishii the next day. I was missing my son Tadashi and eager to get home while simultaneously sad to be leaving the mountains behind. It had been a wonderful trip, the type of trip that makes me fall in love with Japan all over again. Good food, great people, awesome friends, and some seriously fun fishing – all in a gorgeous landscape. Japan is truly an amazing country.