I was recently invited to join friend Ryan, his girlfriend Ayumi, friend John and a couple of Japanese men on a small boat to enjoy my first Japanese fishing outing, and also my first ever on the ocean. We weren’t planning on landing marlin or sailfish, but I was excited to catch something other than the blue gills and sun fish that hang around the dock at the family cottage.
The view towards the shore of Yashima
In the spirit of fishing, we arose uncomfortably early, and peeking through squinty eyelids we made our way over to the Aji Harbor. Ryan got the invite from a member of his drum group, which was then extended to the rest of us. We managed to arrived in time and were aboard a small boat belonging to his brother. It was by no means a yacht, but indeed a seaworthy and shipshape craft. Once loaded up, the man pictured below opened up the throttle and set a course for the open sea.
This plan was immediately in need of revision as even the relatively small waves were spraying us quite a bit. We shaved off a few knots and then set for wind shade of one of the islands. We dropped anchor and caught a fish in no time. There was another nearby captain upset at our proximity to his vessel, so we left to stake our own claim. We has some luck there too, but we moved at least every hour.
My double catch
When it was time to hook some bait, I was rather surprised to see that the worms had legs! These nightmarish squirmers had the legs of a centipede, but at the head was a lamprey-like mouth that would prolapse to reveal black fangs. Baiting the hook was done in the same manner as with standard worms, but my bait biting me was somewhat less enjoyed.
The morning was filled with fish, fun, and a lot of sun. Most of us were starting to pink before we broke for lunch at Oshima. We docked at the harbor on an island I had not yet visited before, and it appeared to be a ghost town. One of our hosts explained that long ago the Japanese government had forced a number of people with a certain disease on this island so as not to infect the healthy populace. Science went on to prove that such precautions we not necessary, but the facilities remained on the island. On into the modern day, there is still a large population of people living at the sanatorium. We didn’t really explore at all, but instead chowed down on a picnic there and then left, never seeing another soul. In addition to complementing our lunches with some great snacks, this kind man also produced an enormous watermelon for our afternoon snack that must have set him back at least 30 dollars.
He also gave us ”Lagerbeers”, whose quality was indeed questionable
Back at sea, we tried to keep the fish coming. Ayumi seemed to be catching all the fish, and John on his first fishing experience ever had appropriately caught zero. After moving around a bit, we finally found a hotbed for fish. Reeling in fish after fish was a lot of fun, in fact, off a single cast I filled both hooks by catching two fish! The downside of this area was that all we seemed to be catching were puffer fish, small ones at that. As interesting as hauling these in started as, they were essentially worthless since consumption without proper and licensed preparation leads to death. We decided that it would be better to stick to the colorful wrasses instead.
Finally in the late afternoon, we had sacrificed all of our bait to the sea and then motored back to base. The lot of us were thoroughly thankful for the incredible opportunity to get out on the sea and do something so relaxing and apart from the ordinary. I once thought that Soeng and I were going to be able to do some fishing, but both of us had very much misunderstood the nature of the event and were instead doing this. We got a picture with the younger brother, while the captain moored his boat. He was kind enough to buy us hats to save us from the sun, but they were too small to wear and we all got at least some color. I would definitely say I got burned, but John was toasted.
After expressing our earnest gratitude, we drove over to the house of another Japanese friend of Ryan’s to prepare the fish for dinner. While it was very kind of them to give us the day’s catch, none of us knew how to turn slimy fish into food, so the assistance from this couple was appreciated. I was excited to expand the experiences of the day to include cleaning a fish. I became quite pleased with how quickly I was able to scale, gut, and behead the colorful sea creature, and would even say that I’ve got the confidence to buy my own fish and cook them up now.
After massacring the fish, we spent a bit longer making the other dishes and setting the table. I had to slice a couple of vegetables and clean the rice. Eventually we were all good to dig into our exceptional meal of fried fish and a stir fry filled with locally sourced beef and greens. After stuffing ourselves, we left for home at last. It had been a long weekend filled with a good variety of fun activities, but unfortunately it was time to begin the workweek…
We helped her with a lot of the work, but she was the brains behind it all