Friday, January 04, 2019

Species hunting fun in Japan : Osaka.

The train journey from Kyoto to Osaka took less than an hour and as I was keen to do some fishing we dumped our bags at our apartment and jumped back onto the metro to visit a fishing spot nearby. It was pretty windy when we arrived and the sea was a little rough but despite this there were a few anglers out fishing which was encouraging. I didn't see anyone catching anything however and sadly I didn't catch anything either. Being the third occasion I'd fished in the sea in Japan and the third time I'd failed to catch anything I was beginning to feel a little bit frustrated. Before we went back to the apartment we went for a wander and accidentally stumbled upon a strange saltwater canal and decided to see if there were any fish in it. Almost straight away we could see some seabass and seabream patrolling but they swam off quickly when they spotted us as the water wasn't very deep and was very clear.

Some fish had made there way into this saltwater canal from the open sea via a pipe at one end.

As well as the larger fish there were the odd shoal of smaller fish swimming around but again they were very skittish and swam off when I got close or cast near them. Eventually I found one species that was a little less shy and showed some interest in my lures. They kept pecking away at my piece of angleworm and after dropping down to #18 hooks and smaller pieces of Gulp I eventually managed to catch my first Japanese saltwater species of the trip! I caught a few of them and before we left I doubled my saltwater species tally for the trip with a small Japanese whiting.

A rather weird looking little fish it had hard bony structures similar to a triggerfish or a file fish. It had three of these though, one at the front of its first dorsal fin and two underneath! Very useful for handling them! After a bit of research when we got back to our apartment I discovered it was a short snout tripodfish.

I recognised this species from the front of Isome packets. 

The next day we visited the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, the biggest aquarium in the world. It didn't disappoint with several incredibly massive tanks full of all sorts of fish from around the world. The whale sharks and sunfish were pretty amazing but oddly enough my favourite exhibit was a very small tank that had a few fringed blenny in it. Also known as the Japanese Warbonnet they were quite big as far as blennies go and have lots of frilly appendages all over their head and fins.

A bit like our Yarrell's blenny on steroids. Maybe I'd get lucky and catch one?

Whilst having lunch in the aquarium's cafe we spotted a few people fishing near the aquarium in a few different harbour areas so we headed back later in the afternoon with my fishing gear. Armed with some bait this time to increase my chances I caught loads of these slimy little fish with an insanely protrusile mouth on tiny little strips of squid.

I'd later discover this is a spot nape ponyfish. The amount of slime on them was quite incredible but not unpleasant.

As light began to fade I started fishing closer in to the harbour walls and much slower too. After a few more spot nape ponyfish I caught a couple of rockfish. I was very excited about catching these as they are a popular target species amongst Japanese anglers and I they were one of the species I was hoping to catch during the trip. I recognised the first one as a darkbanded rockfish, Mebaru in Japanese. I wasn't sure about the second one.

I was over the moon about catching this little darkbanded rockfish.
The second mystery rockfish.

To celebrate catching my first couple of rockfish we headed out after dark to Dotonbori for a wander around its busy neon lit streets, to try a local speciality, octopus balls and enjoy a few cold Asahi Super Dry.

Dotonbori is Osaka's busy nightlife area. It has lots of bright neon signs, tasty street food and lots of restaurants, shops and bars.
It also has lots of massive signs too. This onewas  for the freshly made octopus balls we were after. They're called Takoyaki in Japanese.
Takoyaki is octopus chunks cooked with some other ingredients in batter which is shaped into balls. Barbecue sauce, mayonnaise and bonito flakes usually finish them off although other toppings are available too. It's a good idea to let them cool before eating as the inside is gooey and can be like molten lava.

Back at the apartment that night I did a bit of research to try and identify my mystery rockfish but didn't have much luck so I text Adam Kirby back in the UK to see if he or one of his Japanese friends could help. It didn't take long for Adam to introduce me to Masa, an angler based in Osaka, who quickly identified my mystery catch as an oblong rockfish.

We carried on chatting for a while and he very kindly gave my a few places I could try for Japanese horse mackerel which funnily enough weren't too far away from the spot I'd caught the rockfish at. Fishing for these would have to wait though because the following day we were making use of our Japan rail pass by taking a trip west to visit Rabbit Island. I was quite exited about finding out if there were any fish there as well and had been given permission to do a fair amount of fishing while we were there.

Tight lines, Scott.

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