Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Species hunting fun in Japan : Okunoshima.

Two days before we left Osaka we decided to have a day trip and one where I could do a fair amount of fishing. After three hours plus spent riding the shinkansen, local trains and a bus, we arrived in the small town of Tadanoumi where we waited to take a short ferry crossing to the small island of Okunoshima, also known as Rabbit Island. While we waited for the ferry to make the last leg of the journey I had a quick fish in Tadanoumi's harbour. There were some shoals of damselfish swimming around and I quickly caught a few on tiny sections from the tail of a Gulp fish fry. Tying on a larger hook, putting on piece of angleworm and trying my luck further out into the harbour rewarded me with a couple of small red seabream.

I'd later identify this damselfish as a pearl spot chromis. In the water they have white spot on their back at the back end of their dorsal fin that appears dull brown when they are out of the water. 
Red seabream are very similar to their European cousin the Couch's seabream. 

The ferry soon arrived so I packed up and we got onboard. The sailing only took about fifteen minutes and we were soon on Rabbit Island. Okunoshima is known as Rabbit Island because, as you've perhaps already guessed, it's home to lots of rabbits. They're tame rabbits so expecting a friendly furry welcome upon our arrival we had bought a few bags of rabbit food at the ferry ticket centre in anticipation.

Rustling this bag was like ringing a dinner bell. Any rabbits within earshot would run towards you.
Before fishing I couldn't resist feeding a few treats to the adorable little swines. 
I soon got down to business while Lillian was mobbed by ever increasing numbers of her new friends. She managed to escape from the bunnies briefly to take a photo of me though. 

This first spot was a fairly shallow rocky area and I caught lots of wrasse on angleworm fishing it on a dropshot rig. Some research was required when we got home to identify the colourful fish.

My first wrasse of the trip was this Bleeker's wrasse. 
This one is a multicolorfin rainbowfish. Like the Bleeker's wrasse it was very similar in shape to the Mediterranean rainbow wrasse.
This is also a multicolorfin rainbowfish. The first one is a female and this larger specimen is a male.

We spent the afternoon walking around the island admiring the scenery and stopping to rustle our bag of pellets and feed the rabbits as we went. Not everything on the island is cute and fluffy however. The island also has a dark past. In the years before and during World War II a poison gas production and storage facility was secretly in operation on Okunoshima. After the war ended, when the Allied forces discovered the operation, the manufacturing equipment and stockpiled gas were all destroyed. Many of the buildings remain however, no in ruins they serve as a reminder of what the island had been used for. 

One of several derelict buildings on the island. 

Poison gas production relics aside, the island was quite a beautiful place and as we worked our way around its coastline I found a spot where the water was a lot deeper within casting distance. This sea bed in this area was also rocky and as well as lots more wrasse it also produced a couple of rockfish one of which was my third rockfish species of the trip, a marbled rockfish.

A beautiful spot with lots of other islands in the distance and the sun bursting through the clouds from time to time. 
This is a marbled rockfish or kasago in Japanese. 
The other was my second darkbanded rockfish of the trip. 

Whilst multicolorfin rainbowfish made up the bulk of the wrasse I caught I also caught a solitary star bambooleaf wrasse. What a great name I thought when I identified it back in our Osaka apartment.

The star bambooleaf wrasse was bit more chunky and put a good bend in my Rock Rover.

Before we knew it we had walked almost all the way around the island and were getting close to the ferry pier so I briefly fished at one final spot. The bottom there was clean sand and this produced a few Japanese whiting and a couple of red seabream. With the fairly long return journey to make I packed up and we headed off to the pier so we could head back to Osaka. Okunoshima might be known as rabbit island but as I had discovered it's quite a fishy island too. 

Tight lines, Scott.

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