The day at Chuzen made for an exciting, scenic, and unique day. I joined the 20 or so first year fishery students as we spawned wild Kokansee Salmon. Apparently they’re a type of landlocked fish that live in Chuzen. The fishery that we spent the day at is located right on the shores of the ancient mountain lake and the salmon are caught each year as they try to make their way upstream. The whole process takes place in a series of dams set up by the Tochigi Prefecture version of the DNR. As the students listened to a lecture by one of the employees, Sasaki-Sensei let me have free time so I walked out to the lake and sat on the dock enjoying the lake, the weather, and the autumn colors. I simply cannot imagine a more scenic place than this!
I joined the students for a tour of the Cadillac of all fisheries. It was more like a high-class zoo of fish than anything else. A dozen different lake fish and some foreign species as well, it was quite the set up. We even got a scoop of fish food to throw into the many lakes tucked into the forest above. Apparently the fishery has had visits from the imperial family multiple times and they even have a picture of the princess tossing fish food to a splashing pond of rainbow trout! The fall colors certainly made it a place to remember.
Back at the lake we divided up into four groups in order to take part in the different spawning responsibilities. Before the day was all said and done I had:
Grabbed, clutched, poked, examined, clubbed...
...threw, wiped, hooked, cut, scooped, handled, laughed at, harvested...
...de-gutted, de-gilled, stimulated :\, washed, bagged, iced, biked home with, and ate more Kokansee Salmon than I care to count. (To explain the last part, we each got to take home a bag of Salmon at the end of the day, so for dinner Mama Sato made me salted grilled Salmon – WHOLE! I was stuffed)
And this is a nice picture of the lake to give you an idea of how beautiful it was there today = )