Monday, July 24, 2006

Unagi fishing at Kakogawa Ozeki

On Friday my wife, her sister and her father and myself all went fishing at the Kako River in Kakogawa City. This was only the 7th or 8th time I had been fishing in Japan. Before we went, I had a check on my fishing poles that I store in the trunk of my car. Well, two were broken so I had to go buy some new ones at the bait and tackle shop down the street. Most Japanese tackle shops have tons and tons of goods available. I counted about 70 different reel models and countless numbers of rods to choose from.

I and the father-in-law went and purchased 2 new rods and reels, some hooks, and some sinkers. We spent around $35.00 each on some cheapies... hell we were going to be fishing on the side of the bank so why go all out on nice stuff.

Well we had big dreams of catching some うなぎ (unagi) or eel. We had purchased the right hooks, gotten the right bait, and were arriving at the right time to catch the eel. However, when we arrived some old farts were already sitting in the prime spots. So we go stuck in a rather bad area for catching unagi.

Before we went to the river I had mentioned that we should probably set the rods up with line and tackle. However the father-in-law said we could do it at the river. At the time I mentioned this it was still daylight out and I knew by the time we went to the river it would be dark. So we didn't set it up. Instead we waited until we got to the river.

That was a big mistake, at least for me, as I was the one chosen to step up to the plate and fix all the rods and reels. We had 4. I had to set them all up. It took me about 40 minutes to get it sorted out because it was dark, and I couldn't see a thing. Next time we'll do it my way.

Luckily for me we were at the Kakogawa Ozeki, a dam that spans the length of the Kako River. Lucky I say because there were plenty of lights all around the damn and we could see a bit, but it was still too dark to try to thread fishing line through hooks and so on.

So eventually we all were set and started fishing. My wife and her sister were the first two to catch any fish. They had the smallest poles and neither of them had much fishing experience. They caught some bass, a carp and a ギギなまず(gigi Namazu; A type of catfish).  Gigi is the onomatopoeia of the sound that the fish makes. The Gigi Namazu has three horns that stick you when it wiggles so it is very difficult to remove from the hook without gloves or pliers.

I personally wound up catching 3 of these gigi namazu. The first one I caught was about 18 centimeters. It was the largest fish anyone would catch all night in our group. The second two were tiny gigi namazu.

Unfortunately my father-in-law didn't catch a thing so he was the first to mention that we go home. He packed his things in a flash and was ready to leave. He must've been really disappointed, because this fishing trip was his idea.

None of us came home with any Unagi, despite the fact that Sunday was Doyoo Ushino Hi (Eel Day) in Japan. On Eel Day people in Japan eat Unagi (eel) for stamina due to the hot weather. I unfortunately didn't eat Unagi. I ate meatloaf instead.

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