Japan AnglerBy Abdel Ibrahim
Fishing for Surfers
If you live in the Shonan area of Kanagawa, chances are you or someone you know is big into surfing. My buddies tried to get me to buy a board and try to catch some waves last year, but after having my face slammed into the sand and ending up with a mild concussion on my first try, I thought I should stick to fishing.
I recently found out, though, I can get the best of both worlds by using a standup paddleboard. It makes sense; paddleboards are quiet, agile and stable. An angler using one can cruise around in areas beyond the breaking waves too far from the shore from which to cast, places more likely to hold fish and often too far from the shore to cast.
Kamakura-based paddleboard surfer/angler Satoru Okuda and his good buddy Toshiyuki Takahashi are actively introducing folks to the sport and developing cool tackle and accessories to make the method even more effective.
Satoru invented a simple waist-mounted rod holder that allows him to use both hands to paddle while his lure trolls 15 to 20 meters behind the board. Not only can he easily cover a lot of fishable water, but also he is more likely to get bites, because he can turn on a dime and keep his lure in the fishes’ strike zone without making too much noise or commotion at the surface.
According to him and Toshiyuki, there is quality game year-round from paddleboards – mainly sea bass and juvenile yellowtail. Additionally, the summertime rise in salinity and water temperature also brings in pelagics such as dorado, mackerel and small tunas that can usually be caught within a few kilometers of the shore.
Given these species like to find floating objects on which to hang out, anglers can often find their paddleboard has suddenly become an FAD (Fish Attracting Device) surrounded by a hungry school of fish. Satoru says he once managed to get bull dorado more than a meter in length on his line.
The recommended main tackle for paddleboard fishing is a 6-ft. medium-action 1-oz. (max) cast weight spinning rod spooled with PE 1 line. Takahashi has himself designed a series of well-constructed custom rods with guide settings and actions specifically for paddleboard angling.
A variety of lures for fishing all depths—minnows, pencils, range-vibes, soft plastics and metal jigs—can get bites but, as with other lure game fishing, the key is choosing a plug that looks and swims similar to whatever baitfish are running in the area you are targeting.
Folks who think they would like to give paddleboard fishing a try can hook up with Satoru and Toshiyuki to learn the ropes anytime. Okuda’s shop also co-sponsors paddleboard competitions and other events throughout the year.