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Wednesday, Nov. 24, 1999

Lured to Katsuragawa's fishing hot spot


By ALAN BERGMAN

The morning sky looked threatening and my previous day's fishing charter had been rained out, but I still had an overwhelming urge to go out and wet a line.

I wanted a place that would not be affected by the weather, that offered a chance to catch a lot of fish, that was reasonably priced and that was easy to get to.

The place I chose was the Katsuragawa Lure and Fly Fishing Area, a 4,000-sq.-meter fishing pond stocked with rainbow trout and Japanese iwana char. I arrived at 9 a.m. and had the place to myself until noon. It didn't rain and I had a day of almost nonstop fishing action.

My total catch for the day was 50 fish -- 44 rainbow trout and six iwana. Most of the rainbows were the size typically sold in supermarkets but the three largest were very respectable sized fish: 47, 49 and 51 cm long. The char ranged in size from 28 to 35 cm long. At pay-to-play trout fishing areas flies will consistently out-fish lures and it is often the unorthodox pattern that proves to be a killer.

Through the course of the day I had success with three different fly patterns: pistol Petes, glo bugs and marabou flies.

Well known in the western United States, the pistol Pete is a fly that resembles nothing in nature. It has a small propeller blade on the hook shank just behind the eye of the hook. Frowned upon by elite match-the-hatch fly fishing purists this odd-looking pattern can induce ferocious leader-breaking strikes.

The glo bug is an imitation of a single salmon or trout egg tied on a small short shank hook. This pattern is especially effective on wild trout during spawning runs and it works well on stocked fish year around. The size and shape of the lure resembles the pellets trout are fed in hatcheries. Anglers need to pay close attention when fishing with glo bugs because trout have a tendency to swallow them and the short hook shank makes it difficult to remove the fly without causing serious damage to the fish.

A marabou fly resembles a host of small aquatic creatures and is a good choice when fish are being more selective. It is a simple pattern with a marabou body and tail. Fish usually find the pulsating action of marabou hard to resist.

There is no bag limit at the Katsuragawa Fishing Area so anglers can keep all the fish they catch. If you are practicing catch and release, remove the barbs for your hooks to minimize damage to fish. The use of rubber worms is not permitted here.

The best spots to try are the pond's inflow and outflow. Fish gather at these points and bite more readily in the moving water.

The cost at this fishing area is the most reasonable that I know of: 1,500 yen for a half day or 2,500 yen for the full day. An attendant will come around to sell you a ticket. Fishing hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The season is from Oct. 1 to May 31. The Katsuragawa Fishing Area in Uenohara, Yamanashi Prefecture, is easily accesible by train or car. Uenohara is three stops from Takao on the Chuo Line. The fishing area is located next to the Tsuru River, a 15-minute walk from the station. By car it is a five-minute drive from the Chuo Highway's Uenohara interchange. For further details, call (0554) 63-0083.



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