fishing for whiting on Tokyo Bay today. I stopped fishing at about 1pm as the fish were hooking themselves as fast as they could, and still ended up with a hug bag.
The larger fish were made into kobujime. Canned kanchuhai spirits helped it down.
Many thanks as always to Fujimi, sailing from Fukagawa, east Tokyo.
sailors out on a night like this…
It is a full-on typhoon here in Tokyo now, and we are but on its periphery. It is amazing to think just two days ago the seasonal rains and high winds calmed just in time for my annual whiting fishing charter, which was concluded to the satisfaction of all anglers. I came within a whisker of cancelling on the previous day due to the poor forecast: Beaufort 6 winds and rain all day. However, come Sunday the sea died down and the skies cleared as if by magic to leave us with a calm sea and great fishing. In fact, packing my foul weather slops but no suncream meant I picked up the sun a little – it was actually hot on board at lunchtime and a number of beers and shochu mixers helped quench the thirst. A spring tide with its flood starting at 9:30am ensured we had a good catch of whiting, and the rain from the previous day coloured the water slightly which meant there were plentiful by-catches of ishimochi and aji mackerel as well.
Come midday Captain Yukio did so well as he always does, which is cook an immense and delicious mountain of tenpura: whiting, prawns, squid, shiitake mushrooms, shishito chillies, sweet potato and a great variety of other things were fried in sesame oil and rapidly brought, hot-and-hot, from the galley and immediately wolfed down. A bowl each of rice and miso soup made with asari (littleneck clam) completed the meal.
It is very rare the Bay is this calm at this time of year, especially with the low pressure fronts we have been experiencing lately. This shot shows how calm the sea is and on the horizon you can see the “Aqualine” expressway and “Umihotaru” island. When fishing for whiting at this particular spot, the skipper veers out a sea-anchor from the prow and kills the engine, so that the vessel is drifted over the shallows – close on a fathom in some places, death to yachts and most pleasure craft – by wind or tide alone in perfect quiet, and with little sound other than the lapping of the waves the fishing is very relaxing and pleasant. In such shallow water I was able to use my homemade bamboo whiting rod, which continues to give excellent service after these few years.
Many thanks to Captain Yukio, to Fukagawa Fujimi and to Zephyrus, son of Millpond, for the great day of fishing.
Lots of punters abroad even by 9am. There were some nice specimens of lacquerwork and old tansu chests I would think about buying if I lived in a bigger house. I was also tempted by a complete set of mounted John Player cigarette cards: Sea Fishes of the British Isles but thought better of it. However, after some searching I found what I was looking for in the first place: a Japanese traditional stream fisherman’s creel (called biku, 魚籠 in Japanese). It was very cheap and with some scrubbing and maybe lacquering, will be perfectly serviceable.
Anyway, on returning home the shirogisu whiting – boned except for the tail and spread out – I had laid out to dry in the sun were ready. Treated this way the fish will keep for a fortnight or so.
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.
I can make sea-fishing rods as well…this is my mid-water whiting rod I made last Autumn but ready for use now. The red urushi has come up nice and bright and the mother-of-pearl is really nice now (although its true beauty is not done justice in the digital photography). I still haven’t worked out a way to photograph a fishing rod in its entirety and still retain the required resolution, so here are some close-up shots only.
Close-up of the bamboo root-butt:
And also a close-up view of the mother-of-pearl inlaid wraps on the rod:
made with smoked whiting, chana dal and red chillies. Just the thing for a late lazy Sunday breakfast, with some white toast, marmalade and extra-strong coffee.
Pleasing by-catch off Kisarazu on Wednesday. I also took a new species, a variety of anago eel that I have yet to identify. Lots of iidako octopus and a couple of aji too. But the main target for the day was shirogisu whiting, and I took a hat-full; all other by-catch was returned to the Bay.
This time I thought I’d try something new, and after filleting and sun-drying the fish, I smoked them. Whiting is a very lean, white flesh so I used beechwood chips which give a comparatively mild smoke. After smoking the fish needs a few days, partially covered, in the fridge to dry out a little and for the smoke-taste to really settle and the harsher flavours to mellow out. They are ready to eat now, so I suspect this weekend I will make a kedgeree.
5-shaku mabuna rod. I have yet to figure out a way to take nice pictures of rods in their entirety without they appear minute or require the reader to download awkward-sized images, so here is just the grip and the butt-ends of the two other pieces (I may lacquer the inserts once more as they still look a little raw):
Mid- to deep-water shirogisu whiting rod with bamboo root butt and large-ish guides for casting with a spinning reel (again not in its entirety):
Close-up view of the silver and mother-of-pearl inlay on the wrapped parts, which for my first attempt came out better than I expected, although they are hardly masterpieces:
Both rods need a rod bag and then they are ready to be fished! I always feel my fishing rods are never wholly finished until they have had a fish on.