WARM RIVER SPECIES OF THE FAR EAST
Mandarin Perch Siniperca scherzeri Range – Found extensively throughout South Korea. Most active in summer months. Spawns in late spring. Fly Fishing Tactics – Intermediate Sinking to Full Sinking Line. Small streamers, weighted flies fished at a rapid retrieve to a dead-drift.
Chinese Perch Siniperca chuatsi Range – Amur River and Tributaries, Russian Far East, Northern China. Found in lower sections of slow moving water. Fly fishing approach similar to Mandarin Perch. Wobbler styled flies reported to be effective.
Korean Perch Coreoperca herzi Range – Common in South Korea’s rocky and fast moving sections of warmer mountain streams, particularly the Dong River in shoals and riffles. Fly anglers will have good luck with small nymphs or streamers fished close to the bottom.
Northern snakehead Channa argus Range South Korea, Japan, Russian Far East excluding Kamchatka. Highly Aggressive predator that prefers heavily vegetated sloughs, ditches, farm ponds and reservoirs. Larger fish seems to feed exclusively at night. Fly casters need a stout rod 6wt-7wt fished with a floating line with deerhair styled bass / pike flies.
Barbel Chub Squaliobarbus curriculus Range – common species in South Korea’s urban rivers. Feeds on small insects and crustaceans. Best time to target these fish is in late June-July during the beetle hatch making these fish highly active. A 5wt rod with floating line will suffice for fighting these suprisingly strong fish.
Amur Skygazer Chanodichthys erythropterus Range – From the Han River in downtown Seoul, South Korea to the southern stretches of the Amur river watershed. This is a predatory carp that feeds on terrestrial insects and minnows. These fish grow up to 1 meter but are poor fighters that exhaust quickly.
Amur Pike Esox reichertii Range – Sakhalin Island and The Russian Far East also found in Mongolia. Prefers cooler water than the northern snakehead. Smaller that European and North American Pike, these fish do grow large and require a sturdy rod 7wt-8wt to play them to shore. Streamers in red and white are effective. Most anglers add heavy mono or a bite leader when targeting Amur pike.
Notchmouth Opsariichthys uncirostris Range – Prefers the faster sections of bouldery rivers of South Korea especially good fishing can be found at the tailraces under dams where fishing is permitted. White streamers and occasionally blue-gill styled poppers will produce strikes. The best fishing for Notchmouth also known as pisceverous chub is in early summer and and again in September. A small fish but hard fighting fish that provides lots of fun on a light tackle. 4WT to 5WT fly rods are best suited for this unusual species.
Dark Chub Zacco temmincki Range – Honshu Region of Japan and found in almost every South Korean trout stream. Colorful, small fish that are willing to smack dry-flies and small nymphs. This species is great for children, beginner fly fishers, and anyone looking to beat the slow parts of the day while pursuing trout in high mountain streams.
Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides Range – Imported to Japan and Korea for aquaculture and sportfishing purposes in the 1960’s that have become a nuisance to some and a great sport to others. These fish inhabit the same water as the Northern snakehead. Fly Fishing tactics are identical to those used in North America and Canada. Andong Lake in South Korea is the countries most popular bass fishery.
Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus Range – Another invasive species found in South Korea and Japan that has reproduced with great success. Local anglers have a strong distain for the bluegill as it’s not palatable to many. Can be found in small ponds and slower moving areas of warmer rivers in the same confines as the largemouth bass and northern snakehead. Spawn in the spring. Great table fare for homesick anglers looking for a fry-up with hushpuppies. There is no limit on these fish.
ASIATIC TROUT AND SALMON
Red Spotted Cherry Salmon Oncorhynchus masou macrostomus Range – exclusively found on Japan’s main island. These subspecies appears in two forms (searun) and landlocked. They are identified by the small red spots on their flanks. The “Amago” or Red Spotted Cherry Salmon is a good target for small stream anglers with a 2wt to 3wt fly rod looking for a weekend of fun in the mountains. The Nagano region is reported to have excellent Amago fishing in the Spring and the Autumn. After spawning begins fishing is prohibited.
Cherry Salmon Oncorhynchus masou – Range Throughout Japan including Hokkaido and on throughout the Taebaek Mountain Range on South Korea’s eastern coast at higher altitude. Cherries are colorful elusive fish that are easily spooked. They are rarely sighted except in deep mountain canyons in the early morning and evening hours when insects are hatching. Prefers cold, clear, fast flowing water and sensitive to pollution.
A 3wt fly rod is with a floating line and camouflaged clothing is a good outfit when pursuing cherry trout on the fly rod. Feeding habits are similar to other small stream trout species. Spawn in autumn.
Pink Salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha Range – Sakhalin Island, Russia. Kamchatka, Amur River Watershed, Kushiro River Japan, Shiretoko National Park Japan. Return to river mouths in late summer for spawning. Fishing upstream of the river mouth is prohibited on most rivers in Japan. Bears are a constant problem. Anglers should be vigilant when fishing any salmon river. Casting into the sea at the river mouth produces shiny, hard fighting fish. They are valued for their eggs by both Japanese and Russian anglers. 7wt – 8wt fly rods are best suited for interesting members of the salmon family.
Dog Salmon Oncorhynchus keta Range – South Korea, Kamchatka, Amur River Watershed, Kushiro River Japan, Shiretoko National Park Japan. Return to river mouths in late summer for spawning. Trolling at sea can produce silver fish before this notoriously fast deteriorating fish. Occur in several rivers on South Korea’s eastern coastline. Best fished with red, pink, or purple colored marabou flies with an 8wt-9wt rod. These fish are known to break rods and bloody knuckles. Turn your drag on when fishing for these beasts.
King Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Range – From California, USA to Kamchatka, Russia ( Far East) Also known as Chinook Salmon. The largest members of the pacific salmon family, these fish can be caught throughout the summer months and early autumn on the Kamchatka Peninsula. 9wt-11wt fly rods with a full range of floating to fast sinking line are needed to locate King Salmon. In most areas of Kamchatka, fishing is catch and release only. Please contact us first for more details.
Coho Salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch Range – From California, USA to Kamchatka, Russia ( Far East) Also known as Silver Salmon.
During their spawning phase, their jaws and teeth become hooked. After entering fresh water, they develop bright-red sides, bluish-green heads and backs, dark bellies and dark spots on their backs according to wikipedia. Similar fly fishing tackle used for pink salmon is appropriate when targeting coho salmon.
Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss Range – Imported to Japan in the late 1800’s and to post-war South Korea in the 1960’s for aquaculture that continues to the present. Rainbow trout (Rainbows) have established resident populations in South Korea’s Gangwon Province and throughout Japan. Large specimens of rainbows can be found in Southern Hokkaido’s Tokachi region in the Tokachi watershed and around the Niseko Area. The Sedanka River on the Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula is considered one of the premier streams on planet earth. The Sedanka rainbows are all wild fish that feed almost exclusively on mice, salmon eggs, and dry flies. Hokkaido rainbows prefer terrestrials and nymphs. The best time to be in Hokkaido is for the cicada hatch that happens every year in midsummer. Fly Fishing for rainbows from South Korea to Kamchatka is best done with a 5wt or a 6wt with a floating line in the spring and summer months. Rainbows in South Korea are known to spawn with native cherry trout that produces an unusual triploid (sterile) fish with characteristics from both parents. Rainbow trout are one of the world’s most invasive but also a prized fighting game fish.
Biwa Trout Oncorhynchus rhodurus Range – Exclusive to a handful of coldwater lakes in Japan. Biwa trout occur in Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, but were also introduced to Lake Ashi and Lake Chūzenji. The Biwa is most closely related to the cherry salmon oVery few reports of anglers taking Biwa at any frequency exist. If you have more information about this species, please contact Matt at email@example.com
Manchurian Trout Brachymystax lenok Range Central Asia (Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Eastern Russia and through out South Korea’s Daegwalleryeong Range. Manchurian trout also known as lenok occur in both a short Brachymystax tsinlingensis and long-nosed variety. This ancient salmonid is also found in Northern china’s mountain streams. Lenok are absent in Japan as this fish spend the entirety of it’s life in freshwater water lakes including Lake Baikal. South Korea has had moderate success at stockings from fingerlings from Inje watersheds as transplants in streams with falling populations. Lenok are said to be acutely aware of water temperature and will migrate in schools up and down rivers throughout the year. Lenok spawn in Spring in the upper reaches of small to medium sized rivers. Fly fishing for lenok is best done with a 4wt or 5wt rod with a floating line. Terrestrials and small streamers produce in early summer and throughout the autumn months. Spawning fish turn a deep reddish hue but don’t develop a kyped jaw.
FAR EASTERN CHAR
White Spotted Char Salvelinus leucomaenis Range – also further north Salvelinus Leucomaenis Arcticus a larger subspecies known as “Super Kundzha for the flyfishing film “Eastern Rises” occur in the Kuril Islands, Japan, Sakhalin Island, and Kamchatka Russia. Smaller landlocked char are called “Iwana” in Japan. These fish enter their natal rivers in early spring to spawn. These char live relatively close to shore and spend a great deal of the year in bays and estuarine areas off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan. in Southern Hokkaido, there are several landlocked populations that migrate from reservoirs upstream each summer. In late August, these fish feed with abandon on mayflies and other terrestrial patterns. Fishing in Japan is done with by wading or by using a drift-boat. Fly fishing for large sea-run fish is best done in April-June with a double handed 8wt rod near the river mouth. Lake-locked fish can be caught with streamers and with dry-fly patterns in late Spring – Summer.
Dolly Varden Salvelinus malma Range – Hokkaido, Japan, Kamchatka, Far Eastern Russia (Amur & Tributaries) and Sakhalin Island Russia. Geographically, Dolly Varden char seems to change their appearance from blues, to silvers, to pink or reddish hues but there is no difference in species with their north American counterparts. “Dollies” (Dolly Varden Char) will take dry flies in their small stream confines in Sakhalin while adult fish feed exclusively on bait fish. The fly angler should pack a 3wt to 4wt rod rigged with a spool of floating fly line to swing flies to these colorful char.
Miyabei Char Salvelinus malma miyabei Range – Exclusive inhabitants of Lake Shikaribetsu on Japan’s Hokkaido Island. This sub-species of char is pursued for only a few months per year according to regional laws. This year’s regulation allow fishing with a permit for Lake Shikaribetsu for the months of June, July and October. Miyabei char are dark blue to green and silver according the level they are suspended in the lake. Dryflies and streamers are reported to work equally well for those who venture to Shikaribetsu for a fly fishing holiday.
Grayling Thymallus thymallus Range – Throughout Northern Central Asia, Siberia, The Russian Far East, Sakhalin including the Amur Watershed. Grayling occur in large schools often feeding below lenok or spawning salmon. Grayling will take dry flies, nymphs and small streamers. Several subspecies are thought to exist including the Mongolian grayling and lower Amur grayling. Grayling fishing is considered good in all warm months and a great standby target when the taimen have lockjaw. Grayling don’t seem bothered by wading and a great fish for beginners and seasoned vets alike. A 5wt fly rod will get the job done. Bring a smile.
TAIMEN – KINGS OF THE RIVER
Sakhalin Taimen Hucho perryi Range – Hokkaido Japan, Northern Sakhalin Island, Coastal Rivers of The Russian Far East’s Primorski-Krai Region. These taimen, known commonly as “Ito” in Japanese are distributed in the lower reaches of coastal rivers and brackish estuarine environments. The Sarafutsu River in Northern Japan, near Wakkanai hold’s Japan’s most stable population of taimen. Seasons for fishing Taimen in Japan include early summer and late autumn when fish enter the river. Streamers and large rods either single or double handed rods (8wt/9wt) are used to catch these predatory fish that are the dream for many anglers. Although smaller than their central Asian counterparts, the Hucho taimen also known as Siberian Taimen, these silver beasts are what dreams are made out of. Sakhalin Island is reported to have even larger numbers of Hucho Perryi (Sakhalin Taimen) that are pursued on a multi-day trip that includes a 3.5-hour flight from Seoul or Tokyo + An overnight journey by train to reach northern Sakhalin Island. All taimen must be released unharmed.
Taimen Hucho taimen Range – Mongolia, Siberia, Amur Watershed and its tributaries. This is the world’s largest freshwater salmonid that will smash surface presentations and crush streamer patterns. These are old, slow-growing river wolves that drive men and women absolutely crazy. The rivers that our guides operate on are in far flung locations that requires an overnight drive from Khabarovsk airport, crossing a lake, and then using jet-rafts to reach the upper stretches. Fly fishing is done from shore with the rafts only used to portage equipment. Anglers should be ready for a challenging pursuit for a fish of 10,000 casts. Once hooked, hucho taimen, especially larger specimens will test gear. All tippets, knots, and connections should be in tip-top shape. A hook hone is an essential item to keep hook points razor sharp. A single-hand 9wt – 11wt rod equipped with floating and sinking line is best suited for casting large streamers to Hucho taimen. Double handed rods sized 7wt-8wt, given they have enough backbone to turn fish are also good for hucho taimen fishing. Seasons are limited to Late June – Early September.
Korean Taimen Hucho ishikawae Range – North Korea DPKR Amnok Watershed. Due to a lack of access, the population of Korean taimen remains indeterminate. These fish historically inhabited rivers throughout the northern streams of the Korean peninsula. These fish grow up to 20 inches according to reports from the 1920’s when they were thought to be last studied by Western and Japanese scientists. All Korean anglers dream of someday connecting with a Korean taimen however their existance is unclear. Chinese reports conclude that a small population exists on the Chinese side of the river. No details about angling tactics / gear at this time. If you have more information on the status of Korean taimen, please email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org