Sunday, August 5, 2012

Land of the rising gobies (and other fish from Japan)



Back from Japan, which means it's time for a fishing report! Spent two weeks in Japan, the first being in Fukuoka for an engine research conference and the second traveling around the western half of the country with my girlfriend. The conference kept me busy the first week, but of course I had to sneak away a bit to do some fishing. My hotel was right next to the Hakata River which, like most urban rivrs in Japan, has been walled up with concrete to form a canal.



My first excursion was on my 27th birthday, but unfortunately my only fish were bluegill! Of course I tried to find one that was a 1 yen sized fish, but this is as close as I got. A single grain of rice was my bait.

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)


The next day I tried fishing in the early morning. The tide was low which made the fish very skittish, but once the tide came back the fishing got better. My first catch, however, was not a fish.



I quickly found that mussel was better bait than rice. After putting a bit of mussel on my hook, I caught my first new species.

Urohaze (Glossogobius olivaceus)


Fishing the canal was tough. There were plenty of fish but most of them were very skittish. I saw common carp, some kind of mullet, some kind of crucian carp, and a handful of other species. There were also a number of cool little gobies that lived among the mussels stuck to the canal wall. Here's a good pic of one of them.

Abehaze (Mugilogobius abei)


The following day I tried one of the saltwater harbors suggested by fishingwithpole. I talked to a few Japanese fishermen (with my terrible Japanese), and unfortunately they said that the past few days the fishing had been very slow. It was slow for me as well, but I was able to sight fish some yellowfin gobies.

Yellowfin Goby (Acanthogobius flavimanus) - mahaze in Japanese


The conference ended, and my girlfriend flew out to Japan to join me for a week of vacationing. I have a lot of friends in western Japan, so we kept our travels to that area. One of my friends, Jun, recently got married to a girl who's parents live by a small fishing village on the island of Shikoku. They invited us to stay at a small cabin with them and go fishing in the sea the next day. Jun's uncle took us out to a floating platform where we fished all morning.





We used rigs consisting of a weighted basket full of tiny shrimp as chum followed by 3 to 5 hooks each baited with a larger shrimp. Leann caught two nice largescale blackfish. I missed out on this one, and soon they stopped biting.

Largescale Blackfish (Girella punctata) - mejina in Japanese


Mid-morning we began to see fast, silvery fish zooming by about 20 feet below us. We adjusted our rigs to the same depth and immediately began hooking up with fish after fish. They were bullet tuna and frigate tuna. These are very similar species, but they can be distinguished base on the patterning on their back halves above the lateral line.

Bullet Tuna (Auxis rochei) - marusouda in Japanese






Frigate Tuna (Auxis thazard) - hirasouda in Japanese


Like the blackfish, the tuna also moved on so we switched to fishing the bottom, which was out of our sight. It was hard to feel the bites because our rigs had rubber bunjees that prevent the line from breaking in the case of larger fish. However, the fish we were hooking up with were small so we had to guess as to whether or not we had a bite. During the late morning we caught several species.

Threadsail Filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer) - kawahagi in Japanese

Threadfin Porgy (Evynnis cardinalis) - hirekodai in Japanese

Finepatterned Puffer (Takifugu poecilonotus) - komonfugu in Japanese

We also netted a few cool fish that were hanging out under our platform. I tried microfishing for these guys, but the shrimp we had as bait fell off the hook too easily. All of these fish are nibblers, not gulpers. I wish I had had some bits of scented rubber worm that day!

Harlequin Sandsmelt (Parapercis pulchella)

Scrawled Filefish (Aluterus scriptus)

Spotted Knifejaw (Oplegnathus punctatus)

Whitefin Trevally (Carangoides equula)

That night we enjoyed hagi sashimi (from the filefish pictured above). Delicous!



Jun's family also took home a cooler filled with the tuna.



My last chance to catch fish was towards the end of our trip when we went to the island of Miyajima, which is a short ferry ride from Hiroshima on the mainland.



I only had a small amount of time to try out the micro gear, but I managed to catch one new goby.

Sharp-Nosed Sand Goby (Favonigobius gymnauchen) - himehaze in Japanese

What a great trip! Hope you enjoyed the pics and the writeup.



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