My First Soi

Without doubt, the highlight of our recent trip to Osaka, Japan was going fishing with my friend Masa and his pal Shigehiro. Despite the week's excitement of the Osaka Fishing Show, both George and myself were really buzzing to try Light Game in the motherland, Japan. Masa had arranged a packed itinerary for us, from 11am on the Saturday to the early hours of Sunday morning. Shigehiro had very kindly offered to drive us around. After greeting one another, we set off from central Osaka to Awaji Island - a bit of an angling mecca.

I already knew catching would be hard. Japan in February is a lot like February in the UK. It's one of the hardest months. Masa cautiously reminded us of that fact as we set off, but I wasn't at all put off. I knew Masa had a plan and I was confident he'd find us fish.

The hour or so drive was as much fun as fishing itself. You can imagine how it went. Relentless questioning from George and myself, interspaced with laughing and joking - like any angling roadtrip with a bunch of good mates.

We arrived a little early for the first of the flood tide and Masa suggested that we tried for a Largemouth Bass in a pond he knew. There's no licensing in Japan, so it was easy to make a last minute change and try freshwater. Easy and fun. There was an icy wind blowing across the pond. It was a beautiful spot with strange, alien bird species singing away. Spring was coming, but the bitterly cold wind did nothing for our chances. The four of us thrashed that water for an hour but we couldn't tempt a fish. It didn't matter though. We were fishing in Japan! Living the dream.

Next stop was a little harbour wall that I felt Masa knew very well. The water was crystal clear and the bottom was made from a concrete structure covered in weed. It did look fishy, despite how shallow the water currently was.

Masa was straight into rockfish. First a Murasoi. A new one on me. Then Shigehiro caught a brightly coloured rockfish (Anahaze) that looked to be in a mating mood. It was fairly well-endowed for a small fish with a bright green penis(?). We laughed and joked in mixed language and in fact "green penis" was a regular cue for a bout of laughing for the next 12 hours. I'm still smiling as I write this.

George and I weren't catching. It was entirely our own fault. We'd broken the first rule and not listened. Masa had highlighted that the fish were in the shallows but we persisted in fishing the deeper water at the end of the short quay. Once I'd accepted that, it wasn't long before I had my first follows and finally a nice little fish. My first Soi. Rockfish!! The fishing was very similar to the fishing I've done for Giant Gobies down in the West Country. I made a mental note that I must take Masa there one day.

All too soon it was time to leave. Time was racing by. We were having fun.

It was time to grab some food - Ramen - and maybe hit another tackleshop before the evening's main event - Mebaru Game!