I had no luck on the water yesterday fishing for mabuna Crucian carp – aside from losing a very good fish that threw the hook at the surface, she had at least a shaku on her (30.3cm). The wind was too strong for orthodox fishing: a stiff northerly breeze in the morning that only got stronger as the day went on, till it was howling at midday. We packed up and left the lake at 1:30pm when the wind grew so strong as to lift one’s tackle out the water and send it streaming in a horizontal pennant in the air from the end of the rod. I think we were one or two days too early or late as the majority of fish in the area were spawning in the shallows, you can hear and see them thrashing about, and such fish do not take the bait. Some other fish, no doubt spent after their frenzied exertions, were idly sunning themselves at the surface or taking gulps of air and at one spot, where two rivulets conjoined, some fish were leaping out of the water. The lucky ones would fall down the bank and roll back into the water; one unlucky fish we came upon was stranded and had its eyes and intestines picked out and eaten by the inevitable crows. Kasumigaura is always an interesting place to visit, and for me a lack of fish in the bag is no cause for disappointment. I passed some time watching a local man in the shallows with a home-made fishgig, standing as still as a hunting heron, looking to spear passing koi carp – in these days of opulent luxury carp is no longer a staple food in Japan but the older locals still take them. I also spotted a number of big birds of prey soaring about but had forgotten my spyglass so I couldn’t identify them, but most sensible birdlife was taking shelter from the wind. On the way back my fishing buddy almost ran over a cock pheasant that had walked blindly into the road, which would have been an ironic end to such a huge fine creature that had survived the Kasumigaura hunting season; luckily the bird came to his senses and ran off just before we flattened him.
Fishing at a stocked herabuna pond seems to me one of the most scientific forms of angling there is, in addition to being very fun too. I never tire of it, and am glad to have made the trip despite my recent busy schedule.
Crucian carp of 2013!
Whilst I like to think I can make my own tanago fishing gear sometimes the temptation is too great, to buy the rods made by professionals. Whilst this rod is by no means the pinnacle of craftsmanship, it is still way, way beyond anything I can possibly make at home. So I bought it.
8-piece tanago rod, with fitted baleen tip and spare bamboo tip (not shown) and the all fits inside a lacquered bamboo case. Many thanks to Mr. M. as always, for the fantastic tackle. I look forward to using this rod in the upcoming spring tanago season.
Picked up some sundries at traditional Japanese angling outfitters Tosaku during the week, and set them to use. First, I bought a traditional hand-stitched cotton bag for the tanago rod I have just made.
When folded and tied it will fit as easily into your pocket as your tackle bag:
Next I bought a set of bamboo frames, the tanago angler’s version of a line-tidy, which keep your tanago rigs taut and trim and separate from one another. I then made two rigs for Teganuma tanago angling, entirely from parts and tackle I have been generously given by various anglers on the lake, and wrapped them, ready for use. For scale, I added a 1-yen coin, which is 25mm in diameter. These rigs are far smaller than anything you can buy in the stores, and I am sincerely grateful for these gifts I have received – in particular, the craftsmanship put into the floats alone is astounding.
To protect the bamboo frames with their delicate cargo, these are placed in a specially made cotton bag, looking ever like little tucked-in bedfellows.
The whole thing folds up and is secured with a knot, and everything is ready for fishing!
First layer completed. This ground layer needs a few weeks to really fully polymerise and form a solid bond with the bamboo.
Yesterday on Teganuma my fishing buddy Mr. S handed me a half-made bamboo rod with a request to finish it, so I guess this will occupy me for the next few months:
Good day out on the water today at Teganuma.
After the last layer of lacquering, I fired the rod to straighten it one last time, and fine-adjusted the joints to make sure everything fitted nice and smoothly. The inserts are rubbed with horse-grease and now it is ready, just in time for my first tanago trip of the new year this weekend. With its new baleen tip (which has a natural curve to it, as baleen will never go straight as bamboo does) shipped the rod comes to a whopping 50cm in length, perfectly suitable for fish that come in no larger than about 5cm.