Fishing in Hokkaido

Fishing in Hokkaido

What makes it the best fishing of Japan ?

Hokkaido is the northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago. It is the second biggest island after Honshu but hosts only about 5 million people, of which almost 2 million live in Sapporo.

That says a lot about how wild the island is.

With all this in mind, it is easy to understand that this island is wild, mountainous and full of rivers filled with wild fish.

The lush nature and the huge national parks are what attracts most people too.

But the abundance and diversity of fish is what bring people over and over to the amazing island of Hokkaido.

All seasons

The best season to fish is obvioulsy summer. With millions of insects flying over the waters, the dry flyfishing is ats finest, but Spring, autumn and even winter are really underrated.

spring and autumn is the time to search for bigger fishes in higher up in the mountains, they take refuge there after or before winter. big rainbow trouts for the taking!

Winter is difficult fishing with snowbanks and cold weather, however, if you know where to cast your line, you will be surprised !

Hokkaido has almost no fisheries and fishes are most of the time wild fish. As a result, there is no need to purchase any permit when fishing in most rivers.

Be careful as most lakes need a fishing permit and have really strict fishing periods to allow fish breeding.

Some rivers are also banned from any type of fishing all year round.

Please contact Niseko Tenkara & Flyfishing if you are not sure of the ban and do not want to trespass, we will be happy to answer any of your questions.


Time of the year ?

You can fish anytime of the year, however the dry fly season starts when the asparagus are out, usually mid/end may and finish around october

Time of the day ?

Early morning is always good fishing, but most dry fly action happen on hot afternoons when insects have had time to hatch !



- fishing rod #4, 8 foot, is our suggestion. but anything is fine.

- a good pair of waders with felt underfoot

- a hat 

- insect repellant

What Fish populate the waters?

Learn about the Salmonids

There is a mix of Native and introduced fish that inhabit the rivers and lakes of Hokkaido. All are wild and reproduce naturally at a different time of the year.

Hooking a big fish and discover what species it is only when you bring it to shore is another exciting part of fishing in Hokkaido !

Ezo Iwana

The White Spotted Japanese Char

Salvelinus leucomaenis

This fish is Iconic of the Hokkaido waters, Native to the island it is a beautiful Salmonid. Robes can be a bit different in color depending on the river, from light blue to brown, but all have those distinctive white dots on the side, with amazing marble patterns on the back.

This species like fast-moving water and is often found high up in the mountain streams.

The fight is always interesting and they love the dry flies in the heat of summer.

Size is about 35~40cm maximum for the river locked fish. 

Some individuals will go to the sea and come back later, those can go up to 80cm in size!

Fishing for Iwana is allowed all year round.


Cherry Salmon

Oncorhynchus masou

This is one of the most popular fish In Hokkaido, often depicted in the Ainu (native aborigines population) tales.

The Yamame is a salmon only found in northeast Asia.

They will spend the first few years of their life in the rivers, growing up to 30cm before starting to change robe and heading back to the sea.

They will come back to the rivers a few years back in spring, sizing up to 90cm long and will change names to Sakuramasu.

Important: Fishing for Sakuramasu (salmon coming back from the sea) is strictly prohibited. Please leave the adults to come back freely to lay eggs and create all future generations.

The Yamame are found in all type of fast water and are extremely spooky, making it a challenge for fishermans.


sakhalin Taimen

Parahucho perryi

Japanese Ito, also called Obirame, are the biggest river salmonids ine world, found especially in east asia.

Adults can grow up to 1.2m length in Hokkaido.

with only a few refuges left in Hokkaido, their capture is not  prohibited but the species is seriously endengered.

Ito are present in the Niseko area but only a few individuals are still alive.

Close to Niseko is the only river(stream) in east Hokkaido where Ito are know to breed naturally.

It is important to protect those fishes.

Rainbow Trout


Oncorhynchus mykiss

Rainbow trouts have been introduced over 30 years ago and are now breeding naturally in most rivers and lakes.

in the Niseko area, they usually prefer lower sections of the rivers and can reach amazing sizes (~80cm over).

They always give an amazing fight but it is important to remember that those fish are taking the place of natives.


Dolly varden trout

Salvelinus malma

Oshorokoma are some of the most colourful salmonids that can be caught in Hokkaido.

They are usually found in high altitude pools, lakes, or really fresh and clean streams.

They are extremely spooky and it is always a challenge to go fish for those!

They usually do not grow over 30cm in the rivers but can reach nice sizes in bigger lakes.

Brown trout

Salmo trutta

Introduced in the rivers and lakes, the brown are now considered an invasive species. They are found in lower water bodies and big rivers and can also reach great sizes.


Japanese Dace

Tribolodon hakonensis

Found in lower/warmer sections of the rivers, the face is not a salmonid but will eventually eat nymphs and drys. 

can reach a good size and give a nice fight, it is not a fish to underestimate !

Coming on a tour with Niseko Flyfishing & Tenkara

Why come with us?

We have explored countless rivers in the west part of Hokkaido, up to 3 hours drive from Niseko.

We have searched for the best patterns and techniques to be able to catch fish all year round.

We want to share our passion and knowledge with you !