Salmon Fishing in Hokkaido


Salmon Fishing in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is renowned for its seafood and one fish that is synonymous with the region is Salmon. Many rivers across the island team with spawning salmon which begin running between August and October. These silvery beasties can be found in and around river mouths on the coast of the Japan Sea, the sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific ocean.

This is great news for lovers of fresh salmon sushi and even better news for sports fisherman wanting to catch the often-elusive silver fish. Many river mouths are open for fishing for much of the spawning season and there are also many rivers that are not so it pays to ask at a local tackle store as to the rules and regulations of each area. Generally any water upstream of the mouth is off limits and often a 100-500 meter limit is placed on fishing at the mouth. The following 4 places are a safe bet for both the likelihood of catching a salmon and for legal fishing.

The Sea of Okhotsk is on the northeastern coast of Hokkaido and popular spots are Kita Mombetsu and the Shiretoko Peninsula. Kita Mombetsu is also a great area to have a crack at the smaller, hard fighting, sea run trout Kraft Masu. The Shiretoko area is targeted heavily by commercial operations but quite literally many fish slip through the nets leaving anglers plenty of opportunities. Salmon around Shiretoko are a bit smaller than their southern and western counterparts averaging 2-3kgs. Excellent fishing can be had here around the middle of August.

South of Shiretoko fishing opportunities abound at and near by the scores of river mouths in the area between Kushiro and Cape Erimo. One fantastic spot is just south of the small village of Hiroo. Here the rules and regulations are somewhat tested by locals, but safe legal fishing can be found inside and outside of a small man made fishing harbor about 500meters from the river mouth. The salmon here are considerably bigger averaging 3-6 kgs. Again great fishing can be had here in the middle of August.

On the west coast of the island, just 1hour west of Sapporo is the Shakotan Peninsula; here the river mouths at Bikuri and Furibira are popular and productive spots. Most of the fishing is done again from breakwaters and fishing harbors. They yield similar sized fish to the southern areas but the numbers of fish are lower and given the close proximity of Sapporo the numbers of anglers are much higher! The season here start around mid September.

Spinning is the most popular technique employed by locals, however the spinning technique itself is somewhat different to what fisherman from other countries maybe familiar with. Generally 25-40 gram elongated spoons are used and these are fished approximately 0-1meter below the surface using a float to ensure they sit at the right depth. The spoons are usually dressed in a colorful skirt and baited. They are then cast and retrieved very slowly. Conventional spinning techniques can also be used effectively however the above technique produces consistent results and is by far the most popular. In the waters around Shiretoko a similar technique is used however given the shallowness of the water much lighter tackle is preferred.

If you happen to be in Hokkaido at the end of summer / beginning of autumn there are some excellent salmon angling opportunities to be had. Traveling to rivers offers not only the chance of landing a magnificent fish but is also a fantastic chance to see the beautiful coastline of Hokkaido.

Written by:

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Joel Westcot

Senior Writer, New Zealand Snowboard Magazine
Contributing Writer, Australia/New Zealand Snowboard Magazine
Contributing Writer, Manual Magazine