Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Small sea-run taimen caught with tube-flyIf you want to catch trophy fish, use the biggest flies you can cast. Your lure will never be too big for the predator, feeding on adult salmon. In the Koppi River most of taimen were landed with long, dark flies. The best color will be black, dark brown, or red-and-black. Try big black lamprey imitations up to 20 cm long, or the biggest “Wooly Buggers” on the # 3/0 hooks. Nobody knows why Sakhalin taimen is seriously partial to bucktail. One of the simplest and attractive lures for this fish will be a heavy 2-inch copper or brass tube with a bunch of long black and red bucktail with some strands of Crystal Flash. Another good taimen fly is Intruder, tied in dark colors – black, crimson, and brown.
Taimen grow rather slow; it will reach maturity by the length of around 75 cm. This is why the majority of fish in the catches of sport-fishermen are immature. This fish can have very long life span and reach gigantic size. The biggest, 210 cm long (!) specimen was caught in one of the rivers of Japan in 1937. It is a big pity that nowadays because of overfishing “marine” taimen is becoming rare or disappearing throughout the whole range. In many waters this species has disappeared completely. Its numbers have drastically decreased in the rivers of the southern Kuril Islands (Kunashir and Iturup). At the Sakhalin Island the stocks are listed as endangered. On the mainland coast of the Sea of Japan the species is almost extinct in the south of the range. Several quite numerous stocks remain in the north of its former range, in the rivers Tumnin, Koppi and Samarga, and in several smaller drainages. The biggest river with taimen is Tumnin. In Japan this fish is still present in some of the streams of the Hokkaido Island. For its rareness it is called here “ghost-fish”. In Hokkaido it is now quite small; even a 8-9 kg fish is very rare. If you will be lucky to catch this rare fish, please, release it!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
One of the typical sea-run taimen rivers of the North-East of the Sakhalin Island
In Japan this fish is called ito, and its Russian names are taimen, or marine taimen. Native indigenous people of the Russian Far East call it goi. The head of Sakhalin taimen is comparatively bigger than by any of salmon species, and the jaws - much more powerful. In general it looks rather similar to steelhead salmon. It is mighty, heavy-bodied, silvery fish with numerous black dots of irregular shapes; at the head these dots are normally bigger and rounded. Belly and throat of many specimens are pink or reddish. Spawning of taimen occurs in the period of spring flood, from April (in Japan) to the end of May (north of the species range). At this time the males are bright - reddish-brown.
This big male was caught in the fall, but it still has some spawning colors from the spring spawning.The species range is not big. Sakhalin taimen is spawning in rivers of the Russian Far East and some nearby islands (Sakhalin, Southern Kuriles, and Hokkaido), and feeding in the Sea of Japan and in the south of the Sea of Okhotsk. Many of the species populations are connected with brackish lakes, estuaries, or to the river drainages with big lakes situated on the plains. Sea-run taimen hatch in the river and spend several years (2-4, sometimes up to 7) is fresh water. After that the fish start annually to migrate out into the sea for feeding. This migration normally occurs in June. Lots of taimen come back into fresh water in September or October, but some enter the river as early as in August. Taimen movements are much more complicated and unpredictable comparing with Pacific salmon. Life cycle of Sakhalin taimen is more similar to Dolly Varden charr – this fish spends winter in fresh water, and summer and fall – in the sea. Taimen can move into the sea and back into fresh water several times during the summer.
Morphology of this species is rather different from other taimen species; some scientists separate it into different genus - Parahucho. The data of DNA analysis show a very ancient age of the species – about 40 million years. “Genetic age” of Siberian taimen is at least twice smaller. Scientific name of this fish is Hucho perryi; its species name was given in the favor of the naval Captain Perry, whose battle ship was a first American vessel visited Japan. The first specimen of this species, which came into the hands of scientists, was bought at the fish market of the Yokogama.