Salmon Fishing in Hokkaido, Japan

Fishing was always on my wish list during my stay in Australia. Finally, it came true in Hokkaido. While planning for the trip, I thought what could be better than having a giant salmon as your first catch.

I planned a weekend Salmon fishing expedition to Shiretoko along with a few newbie Japanese anglers. I was super excited for the trip but at the same time, also petrified by the mere thought of holding a waggling fish in my hands.Read along to know how it turned out.

I made a Mission Salmon to-do list. First thing on the list was to get the right gear. For this, we went to Tackle Berry shop in Atsubetsu. I bought a used fishing rod (about 10 feet long), reel with 30-pound line, floats, and salmon special lures and hooks. It wasn’t very expensive and I also got a 10% discount after joining their mailing list using my phone. I spent about 8000 JPY for everything. Another good place to get fishing gear is outdoor sports store Amegyo close to Sapporo station (They have very cheap reels). We bought some red squids and prawns for bait. The last thing I needed was a wader. Luckily, a friend had some extra and I didn’t have to buy one, which saved me a lot of money.

Float and Lure and ReelIMG_1644

We hired a Toyota Hiace for the trip; it had plenty of space for the eight of us along with our stuff. Our fishing trip to Shiretoko started on Friday evening right after finishing work. Driving to Shiretoko from Sapporo takes about 7-8 hours and we wanted to reach before dawn to start fishing. We drove all night with occasional pit stops at the local convenience stores to stretch, reload snack stock and change drivers. After reaching Shiretoko, we managed to cast the first line at 5:00 am at a spot about 10 km north of Oshinkoshin waterfall. It was a fruitless effort or to be precise a fish-less effort 🙁 . After many unsuccessful attempts at a couple of different locations, we felt defeated and hungry. We drove to the Todowara Cafeteria (トドワラ食堂 ) in the beautiful Notsuke Peninsula for lunch. The view was amazing and the food was delicious. I ate a yummy horsehair crab and a filling plate Kare rice, which lifted my spirits a bit.

Horse haired crab Notsuke peninsula

After lunch, we went to a nearby port to try our luck again. I got super optimistic as I saw many anglers catching Salmons at that spot. However, my high spirits went into the ditch again when no one in the group was able catch a fish. Disheartened and exhausted 🙁  we decided to call it a day and left for our logwood cabins at Odaitofureai Camp-ground for the night. The cabin had nothing more than an electric socket for furniture. At 2500 JPY per night I didn’t expect much either (you can rent sleeping bags from the camp ground office). We dumped the luggage and went to the Otainuma Hot Spring to enjoy a hot dip and wash off the disappointment. I went to bed dreaming of catching a Salmon tomorrow .

Log Cabin

The next morning at dawn, luck did not shine on any of us again. While looking for a fishing spot we saw a commercial fishing boat unloading their catch of the day. To prevent a complete failure of our fishing expedition we decided to cheat 😉 and bought two freshly caught Salmons for 5000 JPY (a male and a female for ikura). After enjoying a mouthwatering lunch of fresh salmon, it was time to head to back to Sapporo. However, before that we stopped at the Kuma no-yu open-air onsen Mt Rausu. This onsen is free and has a segregated bath for women. I absolutely loved this natural hot spring even though it was a little too hot and I had to use some cold water to balance the temperature. Kuma no-ya Onsen is not too far from the road and the men’s section was slightly visible from the roadside so unwillingly I saw a couple of them in their birthday suit 😛

While driving back to Sapporo the only topic of discussion was that, why the fishes didn’t take the bait when they were leaping in and out of water right in front of our eyes? Perhaps they too are shy of foreigners!

A couple of months after the disastrous first trip, I wanted to give my fishing skills a second shot. However, this time we went to Muroran. Unlike the Shiretoko trip, this was a single day event. Again, the same bunch of amateurs hired a car and drove to Muroran at 2:00 am from Sapporo on a Saturday morning. We drove through the scenic lake shikotsku route (Also save money on toll). We reached Muroran at 6:30 in the morning and started fishing at the mouth of a river towards the south of Muroran. After trying for 3 hours at two different spots (recommended by the locals), we lost all our hope of catching a fish again in this trip. But then it happened, I felt a tug on the rod, I hooked a Salmon 😀 . I slowly started reeling in and kept shouting to call my friends for help. We secured the fish and I took a deep breath, realizing you only find success once you lose all hope.

On our way back from Muroran, we had a small stop at Lake Shikotsu and the scenery was breath taking. We brought the fish to Sapporo in a freezer and finally a self-caught fish ended up on our dinner table.

Lake ShikotsukoCaught Salmon

The successful second trip has now motivated me to try Ice Fishing during winter 🙂

For more pictures from this trip please click here.

Do share with me your story of success or failure with Salmon fishing.

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