Made the trip up to Lake Teganuma in Chiba Prefecture. This time I would be baptising my recently completed eight-piece tanago rod, and as it is always bad luck, bad luck of the sticking nature, to not catch anything the first time you use a rod, I hoped it would be a good day. I was not disappointed: the tanago were in great number and despite the low temperature, put up a pretty good show.
I started out with my older, much shorter rod since there were other anglers at the creek already fishing and it was a little crowded, and immediately snagged a nice buck:
An odd by-catch, a small freshwater shrimp known as yamato numaebi in Japanese:
There were also plenty of minnows/gudgeon to take the bait; often regarded a nuisance by tanago anglers, but fairly amusing:
Being something of an unusual sight among tanago anglers – a giant, whiskered foreigner yet using traditional bamboo gear – I rapidly found myself in conversation with the angler sitting next to me, who in addition to being very friendly was obviously an old hand and landing tanago with a most consistent yet complacent rhythm: including some fish not just small enough to fit in a 1-yen coin, but in his own words, ‘small enough to fit on my thumb-nail’ – fish of an absurdly small size. It also turned out that he was an amateur rod-maker like me, and we had a great number of topics to speak of. Also, like so many anglers here in Japan he was liberal not only with his advice on fishing but also with his tackle, giving me one of his home-ground tanago hooks that I accepted with great reverence. At about 2pm he and two other anglers decided to call it a day, and with a bit more space available I put together my new rod and baited up and let go my first line.
After landing a couple of minnows, I was rewarded with my first tanago catch on the new rod; a textbook take, and a middling size buck in good colouring for this time of year (red eye and a tinge of red on the flanks too):
Quite what the rod has to do with it I am not sure (there is no casting, or play or anything like that) but for some reason I couldn’t stop catching tanago once I got into a rhythm and after three hours or so had a most satisfying bag. Using my new rod, and a number of other superstitious factors such as it being my first tanago trip of the year, I was not in a killing mood and all the tanago were released at the end of the day’s fishing unharmed and ready to ‘fight’ another day.
As the sun began to set over the lake, as a last game I decided to try to catch some of the 1-yen-ers I could see swimming in plain sight just below the surface, using the specially ground hook I had been very kindly given. Unfortunately, in the twenty minutes or so before twilight I did not have any such luck. Everytime I go tanago fishing I learn something new from fellow anglers and this trip was no exception; my next step is to start grinding my own hooks and making my own egg-bait, which seems to be better suited to the smaller fish. Thanks as always to Mr. I, Mr. K and Mr. S and all the locals at Teganuma!
PS being catch and release fishing, the day was concluded not with a fish meal, but with spaghetti alla carbonara, made with fresh pasta and my home-made pancetta. The pancetta turned out to be pretty good with just the right level of saltiness. Whether or not you believe the dish is named after coal-miners, the great amount of black pepper used or its namesake secret society, I try to make mine as ‘authentic’ as can be living on the other side of earth from Italy: it is made only with cured pork, eggs, cheese and black pepper and no cream, onions or God help us peas or broccoli. It was a most satisfying end to a good day fishing.