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Fishing In Hokkaido – What Species Live In Hokkaido?

Hokkaido – where do we start with Hokkaido? Japan’s northern most populated island. Covered in Snow from late November to late March, and arguably Japan’s last frontier in terms of wilderness. Hokkaido is home to Niseko, notoriously known for its powder snow providing some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. People come from around the globe to ski in this winter wonderland, but did you also know its home to some unbelievable fishing?

Map of Japan

Hokkaido has a population of 5 million people with 3 million of those inhabitants living in the capital of the island which is Sapporo. Its incredibly mountainous and that only means one thing... Lots and lots of rivers! The rivers of Hokkaido are famed for their clarity and also for being some of the cleanest rivers in Japan. Pollution is minimal and drinking water fresh water springs are numerous. This water quality allows for various Salmonid species to thrive, such as Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, White Spotted Char, Ma

su trout, Ito (Japanese Huchen) and of course various salmon species including Chum Salmon and Cherry Salmon.

Brown Trout Fishing in Japan
Big Hokkaido Brown Trout

Brown and Rainbow Trout

Brown and Rainbow Trout were introduced to Hokkaido in the early 1900’s to provide a food source for local people. Due to its cold waters and crystal-clear streams these species have thrived and are no longer stocked into the wild river systems. However, Rainbows are abundant and provide great sport, whereas the Brown’s are not as prevalent but a common catch. Lures or fly are the order of the day with fish feeding first thing and last thing!

White Spotted Char

A native fish to Japan and are in abundance here in Hokkaido. You can find these stunning fish in most mountain streams and water systems and they require incredibly high water quality which is why Hokkaido is the perfect home for them.

White Spotted Char Fishing In Japan
White Spotted Char

They grow to a healthy size and can also be caught at sea as they move out of the mountain streams to find food. Often called the rain trout the best time of year to catch these fish is

Winter through to Spring but can still be caught in the Summer and Autumn months. Lure and fly work well and even a juicy worm!

Masu Trout

Masu trout have a similar appearance to rainbow trout. They are characterized by their vibrant colors, with a silver body and a distinct pink to red stripe along their sides. The intensity of the coloration often depends on factors such as their age, habitat, and diet. Like other trout species, Masu trout undergo anadromous behavior, which means they migrate from freshwater to the ocean and back again to spawn.

Masu Trout Fishing Japan
Masu Trout

During their time in the ocean, they grow larger and return to freshwater for spawning. After spawning, the juveniles hatch from eggs and spend a period of time in freshwater before migrating downstream to the ocean. Fishing in Japan has centered around these fish for years and years until stocks have reduced with less fish migrating back to spawn. This is due to overfishing and habitat destruction.

Ito (Japanese Huchen)

Ito are one of the rarest fish on the planet and you have the opportunity to catch one of these fish here in Japan.

Japanese Huchen Fishing In Japan
Japanese Huchen

The Ito is a species of Salmonid that is also androgenous meaning it lives in the rivers for 3 years and moves to the sea/estuaries later in life. They grow to huge sizes of over 100cm and are sort after as a fish to catch here in Japan. Fishing in Japan can generate rewards like this and if you catch one of these fish it’s an incredibly achievement.

Salmon Species of Japan

There are 4 main species of Salmon found in Japan all found in Hokkaido. However, there are verry strict rules around salmon fishing in Japan. You can fish for them at sea, but in freshwater it is strictly prohibited. We have the Cherry Salmon, Masu Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Pink Salmon and Chum Salmon all variants of the Pacific. Fishing for salmon is often done off the beaches prior to running up the river, but please beware that most salmon running rivers has a 1km protection zone which prohibits any fishing.

This is very much a quick overview on fishing in Hokkaido and the types of fish you can catch here on the island. Fishing in Japan has so much variety, especially in Hokkaido and has some of the best game fishing in the world. Come fishing with us and discover these species and you have a chance of catching all of them! (Other than the Salmon) but even then we can go to the sea and you might stand a chance! Get involved today and send an enquiry over!


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