good day out on the Bay today. It was very hot out, but a strong libeccio blowing all day ensured a little relief from the sun and the aji horse mackerel hooked themselves, quite literally, all day.
I was obliged to stop fishing at around midday, as my cool-box was packed to the brim with fish. Even so I foresee a long night ahead in the kitchen, and lots of presents for the neighbours…
Unfortunately I did not take any blue or chub mackerel today – the orthodox bycatch for this sort of chum fishing – but I had the good fortune of snagging a fair-sized shotted halibut. I have never caught such a fish on Tokyo Bay before and she will do very well sun-dried and then grilled.
In hindsight, it is not surprising I had a good catch today. Not only was I seen off from my flat by Fishing Cat in the early morning, but on arriving at the fishing boat in Kanazawa Hakkei I spotted an osprey right in front of the moorings, in fact one of a pair I have known to have established themselves in the area since last winter. There were just too many good omens to not have a good day on the water today.
Many thanks to Bentenya, sailing from Kanazawa Hakkei, for their excellent and friendly service as always!
breadcrumb mix English breakfast sausages. These came out very well but next time I think I will use a coarser grind of meat.
It is getting quite hot here in Tokyo; 33 – 35°C everyday. That might not sound very hot but the humidity and pollution I think makes it seem much hotter and it doesn’t really cool down at night. Since the end of the rainy season thousands in Japan have been carted off to the sawbones with heat-stroke. I am hoping to head out this weekend for aji fishing, but otherwise my time off is spent generally in a fashion similar to Fishing Cat:
A hot day out on the water today…but click through for the record fish!
Made my first whiting trip of the season today. Despite the high winds blowing most of the day, I had a very good catch – in addition to my first angler’s sunburn of the year. However, I knew I would have a good day on the water: I met Fishing Cat outside my flat on the way out in the morning. She pretended to ignore me but once I turned my back she followed me out to the main road; perhaps I (or my fishing gear) smelt of fish.
Although I left off fishing at about 1pm I still had a huge catch. I gave the largest away to my local sushi restaurant that always wants the big fish; the rest I filleted for tenpura or sun-drying. It took me close on two hours to fillet them all.
A quiet day out on the water today, with the weather being neither winter nor autumn: strangely hazy with a low cloud cover. It didn’t stop me getting sunburnt but a neap tide meant slow fishing throughout the day. I took six big aji and a brace of the curious ‘talking’ fish ishimochi in the day. Compare this image of Hakkei Island, complete with nori seaweed beds, with previous photos…
In hindsight, it is not surprising the fishing was slow; for one, I did not meet Fishing Cat in the early morning when I set out, and when we were at moorings, a river cormorant sat on one of the fore bitts with its wings ahoo, a sign of ill luck if ever there was, before we set sail.
However, the fishing itself was fun and it was nice to get out on the water. Aside from a Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force slop-ship giving herself airs on the Bay, it was interesting to see a variety of vessels out on the water, including some pretty yachts, the odd man o’war, and some absolutely gigantic container-ships. Aji are always good eating and my catch is destined for the smoker; the ishimochi talkers I made a gift of to my local sushi restaurant. Many thanks as always, to Kanazawa Hakkei’s Bentenya.
Fishing for magochi, or flathead, today I had no luck on the water; this was hardly surprising though as I did not meet Fishing Cat in the morning on my way to the boat. However, my rod making teacher caught a hatful and very kindly rescued my dinner, or at least I will be dining on delicious white fish tonight instead of ramen or Indian takeaway:
Magochi is one of the Japanese game fish that requires a small amount of chirurgical skill, as it is first killed by cutting its spine at the neck and tail, and then a piano wire is passed through its spinal cord. All sushi chefs and the more serious angler-cooks, or at least the less squeamish, do this; the difference in the quality of the meat is fairly startling. After this, the fish is pretty easy to prepare despite some nasty spines on its head. The meat will be breadcrumbed and fried, and a surprisingly good soup made from the head and fins:
Time for a beer and then I must prepare the tartare sauce of infamy.
One of the various eatables I brought back from Tuscany. It sounds a bit nicer in the Italiano – and there is a helpful photograph on the label just in case. The ragu was rich, winey and well-spiced, and exactly as it says on the tin, it is pronto all’uso: stirred about with some papardelle (also from Tuscany) it was a perfect lunch. It is amazing to think that serious Tuscan diners would consider this only an amusement, with a main course to follow; but then again I shall write more in the future about the beast known as bistecca alla Fiorentine.
The day I arrived back in Tokyo, Fishing Cat was suitably unimpressed with my return:
No, not Linnaeus’ Prionailurus viverrinus, which ufortunately I did not get to see in Uttarakhand in 2009, but the scarred, perpetually cross-grained and foul-tempered stray cat that lives on my street and is partly adopted by the hotel two doors down. I refer to her as Fishing Cat because every time I spot her in the morning as I leave for fishing, I end up having a good catch that day. I managed to snap her at 5am before last weekend’s ayu trip and true to form, I had a good day then.