My pilot fly for reef fishing has been turd fly on #4, but it proved too small and not durable enough to do good job during my trip to Ogasawara Archipelago where reef is formed by complex mixture of rock, coral, and pebbles. Also, I was looking for good alternative to dumbbell eye whose rim stick out and get snagged easily on rock or coral.
Firslty, I found a very good alterative while ago: Gee Crack’s tungsten tube sinker. Powder tungsten and silicone rubber are kneaded together into a shape of tube.
Secondly, I found a fail safe protection for the body of fly. Tungsten tube sinker is very soft, so I needed an good method of attaching it to the hook shank other than tying thread which will cut right into its tissue. I used over body with mylar tube then applied soft coating to improve durability. This layer approach worked very effectively and none of my fly using this body failed in everyday use on Ogasawara.
The fly was tested from the prototype on variety of species on Ogasawara for coral reef then it worked just the same for fish living in rocky reef on the main island. I am pleased about the outcome of this pattern. In time, I’d look for better material to make the body of fly and also experiment on the wing material to see what works the best on what fish.
Hook: Gamakatsu B10-S #2
Thread: #3/0 or anything with enogh durability for saltwater fly
Body-weight: Gee Crack tungsten rubber tube sinker 1/16 oz cut in half
Body-overbody: Gold mylar tube
Body-protection coat: Bond SU soft glue
Wing: Craft fur
I got reunited with Gen-san, my friend from Ogasawara, to take him out for fly fishing.
1. Picking Up from Hotel near Takeshiba Passenger Terminal
Gen was staying at the hotel adjacent to the pier for Ogasawara-maru. Funny that the road I was driving was the same road I drive on Sundays to go to my church near Tokyo Tower. I now realized how easy it is to access to the Port of Tokyo.
As I got there earlier, I looked around for a good scenery. Takeshiba is next to Hamarikyu Garden which provides this gorgeous waterfront view.
2. Fly Fishing at Fish On! Ozenji
We have picked up our breakfast in Roppongi, got on Metropolitan Expressway off Shibuya, then got off Tomei Expressway at Kawasaki. We arrived at Fish On! Ozenji around 8:30.
Gen had practice casting fly tackle when he was little and quickly picking up the basic of casting to form good loop from the beginning.
As soon as agreeable cast is formed, Gen caught a trout. I realized I forgot to bring net or tell him how to land the fish. He went all the way to catching leader then fish broke away. Completely my fault…
Condition of fish was exceptionally difficult. Chironomid were hatching , but fish were feeding in subsurface. We had only few strikes and had to wait for hours for another strike. Just before our ticket expired, Gen managed to catch his first fish on fly. By that time, he had enough rounds of fly casting and became really good at comfortably casting 15m range on 5/6wt fly line.
3. Branching of Tokyo Fly Fishing & Country Club
Gen caught one fish and have solid basic casting. Mission accomplished and I gave Gen my 5wt tackle as a gift so that he can continue to practice and enjoy fly fishing on the island. In return, he will report what fish are available there.
It’s truly amazing that we now have this friendship being in the same Tokyo 900km apart. Let’s see what we hear from him!
Now going back to the Metropolitan District of Tokyo on board Ogasawara-maru. Familiar faces of the islands were actuall on board as well and with their help I have managed to catch 5 new saltwater species and 1 new fresh/brackish water specimen on fly tackle. As to sighting for wild life, lots of coral fish, sea mammals, and birds I haven’t seen before. Together makes this journey one successful nature expedition.
On a side, it was great experience of sociology. I have been touched by stories of the early settlers, Anglicanism, the war, modern life of islanders, and travelers lime myself. Only thing I regret is not about bonefihs, but I should have come to Ogasawara Archipelago long time ago.
Now, let’s make overview on what it’s like from Port Futami to Port Takeshiba in the metropolis.
1. Port Futami, Chichi Island, Tokyo
Beginning of 25 hour journey on ferry. Last minute chance to enjoy the hospitality of islanders and sighting of marine animals. I have sighted hummerhead shark along the coast.
2. From Ogasawara Archipelago to Izu Archipelago
There is a huge void between archipelagos of Ogasawara and Izu. There is no mobile signal over hours. Truly in the middle of Pacific with deep blue ocean.
3. Izu Archipelago
You can get good signal on mobile when the ferry is passing by Hachijo Island. Then here and there as you approach closer to any of the chain of islands. There is Black Current flowing across the archipelago which sometimes causes quite a roll.
4. Sagami Gulf
Once the ferry reaches the gulf, then you receive mobile signal at ease from either Boso Peninsula in Chiba then Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa.
5. Tokyo Bay
Colour of water changes from blue to green, then green to brown as the ferry gets closer back to the metropolis. 4G network? No problem at all. I actually managed to do a short conference call with my colleagues.
6. Port of Tokyo: Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Then back to the metropolis. Terminal is only minutes walk away from the choice of three train stations: Takeshiba, Hamamatsu-cho, and Daimon.
This concludes my 13 day journey to Ogasawara Archipelago. Now I am working on my little project to increase the amount of information for fly fishing on the island. In time, I will return for more productive fishing.
Now on Chichi Island. It is about 60km north of Haha Island with population around 2,000. As it has more accessible coast line, I realized this island has very good potential for light game such as fly fishing. As I arrived on yesterday, I had only this morning to complete the fishing then make ready for final departure back to the metropolis.
1. Scouting on Suzaki
At the very first minute I got to the youth hostel on Chichi Island, a visiting diver showed me a photograph of GT he caught that morning on spearfishing. He recommended me to try Suzaki where he spotted many amberjack. So, I went to Suzaki for the first game of the morning, but only fish chasing fly was good size pacific drummer. It seems that fish has more aggressiveness on this island, but there was not sign of amberjack or predator feeding on surface.
2. Yatsuse River
My main concern was to see what sort of fish inhabits the fresh/brackish water of this island. There was few prospect rivers, but I went to Yatsuse River to check out tilapia and other fish.
Very first spot where I took off from my motorbike, I sighted a pair of rock fagtail speeding upstream. Didn’t have enough time to prepare my tackle. Besides, I only brought my 9wt with tropical floating line on, which wouldn’t deliver anything carefully to wary fish in skinny water.
Then I began fishing for Nile tilapias who were plentiful throughout the river. But heavy floating line wasn’t exactly what fish would like, so I had to end up scaling down the size of fly to #18 maggot fly. Tilapias are fish with great amount of curiosity, but they won’t like the impact created by very thick line. I caught few of them and I moved on.
3. Estuary of Yatsue River
I saw schools and schools of tilapia and then mullet in brackish water in the estuary. This could be a good spot for baby size trevally who adopt to brackish water.
I had to finish before 8:30am before moving back to the town, so I pushed on walking through beautiful path towards sea.
4. Final Stop of the Journey: Kominato Beach
Then… an eyeopener. I’m afraid my photography cannot tell this beauty. White sandy beach with bonin blue ocean was waiting at the very end of this journey.
Unfortunately, there was no sign of fish and my time was up. Thus I concluded the fishing part of this journey. Too bad that water was colder than usual season, but I have seen a great potential of Ogasawara for light game fishing and witnessed its capacity for big game as well.
5. St. George’s on Chichi Island
By the time I got to the beach, it was already late past 8:40am. I jet back to the lodge for making departure arrangement and washed up quickly to attend Sunday Service on the only church on Ogasawara Archipelago: St. George’s (Anglican-Episcopal).
This church was originally consecrated in 1909 by the Anglican Churches of Japan and England and at that time it was designed by Josiah Conder, an famous architect hired from London on variety of modern western buildings in Japan. The first rector was Joseph Gonzales whose grand father migrated from Hawaii on British whaling vessel and whose descendant Reverend Isaac Gonzales-Ogasawara now leads this church for open door to all christian denominations.
St. George’s was burnt down during the WWII and consecrated in 1968 by the Bishop of Hawaii. As I have attended the communion, it was probably the busiest Anglican church I have seen anywhere in the world (so far) for having people working on Sundays rushing in and out for prayer and going back to their business.
This journey was also meant for me to make a bit of pilgrimage, because St. George happens to be in the same Diocese of Tokyo as my parish church yet they are 900km apart! I wanted to ask so many questions, but I realized I haven’t done any service to deserve them. Instead, I listened to the reverend whose stories were truly revealing.
I made prayers of thanks to the people of the islands and to the forefathers from the variety of Europe, America, and Japan who happened to come to this archipelago then worked together in peace to build the community living vibrantly today. Something metropolitans can learn a lot from the islanders.
6. Departure from Chichi Island
Ogasawara-maru departed Port Futami on Chichi Island around 14:00 and there were crazy number of boats and jetskies following the vessel to send warm good bye. What a amazing hospitality!
Result of Fly Fishing
- Nile tilapia x 3
This is my last day on Haha Island before moving back to Chichi Island to take care of few business. As I have fished so much yesterday on single-hand 10wt, I geared with only two-hand 450 grain with gigantic fly for big fish.
However, there had been no surface activity where I could reach by casting from bank. After a while, Gen-san came around waithing for Takashi-san to come back on his boat from all night fishing for squid. They were geared up for big tuna/amberjack/GT game on lure tackle. It was very kind they asked me, “we are going for big game, would you like to come along?”. Well…I was already on their boat the minute I saw their tackle.
1. Big Game from Boat
What I know from my experience is that fish going for lure are in different mode as fish going for bait or fly. So, I was ready to be a happy observer. Gen and Takashi began casting only outside of the port and I thought they were joking or practicing.
Then I found out that I was completely wrong about my perception of this island. This reef on this video was where dogtooth tuna went for Takashi’s jerkbait.
And this is the same location from boat where Takashi was fighting 10kg tuna.
I couldn’t believe I was seeing this on my very last day!
2. Bit of Trial
Big fish going for big lure quickly discouraged me to try my puny crease fly on two-hand fly rod, but the chaps were really kind to let me try on a bow deck. This photo looks like that I’m fighting some fish, but I was only picking up my fly line going against strong tide!
Result? Of course none. But I took a great joy of being on the same boat catching tuna and passing by whales and dolphins!
3. Leaving Haha Island to Chichi Island
When the boat returned to the port, I had to rush back to pack everything not to miss the afternoon ferry to Chichi Island. Youth hostel on the island was truly wonderful.
And folks of Haha Island simply amazing! Good bye. I will surely return in the future.
Remaining time on Haha Island was now numbered. So I had to focus on the most productive area, Port Oki. For possible big fish, I set up two-hand 450 grain switch rod with sinktip line. For more hands on fish, single-hand 10wt with type IV.
1. Fishing in Port Oki
Very first catch was my all time friend: blue cornetfish. I have been catching this guy throughout my life in Guam, Hawaii, Philippines, Okinawa, and now Ogasawara. It’s peculiar looking fish, but fun to watch the process of hesitation before making final strike on fly or bait.
Then familiar bigeye scad. This fish is much like trout who only chases fly swim in the matching depth except they fight hard til the end.
As I was making constant catch, resident brown booby came down to wait for his share. This funny guy kept looking at me and net back and fourth to communicate his message to me. Unfortunately, slow-style of fly fishing didn’t impress him too much, so he flew away after a while.
Then I moved to the same spot I fished yesterday for queenfish. After careful prepration, fish begin to come out of hiding. None attacked minnow type fly, so I switched to experimental marabou rig. Then I caught white trevally.
It was bit difficult to land this fish for it fought hard at the same time 3 white tip sharks were after him. Then I caught another one. I first mistook this fish for bigeye trevally, but white trevally has this distinct mouth that extends a bit.
Fight with these fish excited all fish in the area including sharks, then one shark snatched my third trevally immediately after it got hooked. Then I added one more fish: pacific drummer.
2. Trail Walking
It got very hot when sun came out full, so I stopped fishing and went off trekking on the trail.
Set of iPod and headphone playing back happy tunes helped me walk through remains of the WWII as they all looked spooky. Imperial Japanese Navy 12cm anti-aircraft gun is not so challenging.
But old barrack with very functional door and dark interior are something rather not happy to walk into. It was quite spacious inside though. Probably worth converting this barrack to a storage for… rum produced on this island?
3. In the Village
Haha Island provided a great collection of herbs and vegetables, so pasta dish has become the main course. Herbs and vegetables used for Italian food are amazing probably due to the warm climate and dry soil. Great parsley, tomato, and red pepper.
Good to have a travelling friends at youth hostel and to have great selections of beer at the local stores, Orion beer of Okinawa meets tasty dried smelt from Hokkaido. Really quality dinner time.
Result of Fly Fishing
- Blue cornetfish x 2
- Bigeye scad x 3
- White trevally x 2
- Pacific drummer x 1
Morning started with meeting Gen-san, local master angler who has record catches on bluefin trevally, amberjack, and dogtooth tuna. He has been curious about me fly fishing in the past few days, so I took a pleasure of introducing him a little about fun of fly fishing.
1. Spot in Port Oki
He and I walked over to the corner in the dock where jetty had a opening underneath to let fish hide and come out freely. There I caught a queenfish of descent size on mikura candy. Catching cruising fish such as queenfish is a really good sign that this spot welcome many species. Gen-san explained to me that this port is the single most efficient place to fish. I strongly agree.
2. Snorkeling the Water of Haha Island
As seeing Gen-san going back to his work, I moved on for a snorkeling tour booked at Club Noah from 9am.
Club Noah is the only diving shop who produces variety of marine nature tours and the one I joined took me out for dolphin/whale watching and snorkeling on uninhabited small islands around Haha Island. Water is still too low around 20°C, so we geared up with wet suits.
No luck meeting any dolphin or whale, but boat took us 2 spots for snorkeling. Clarity of water is simply amazing and unharmed natural beauty awaited underneath the surface.
And I spotted large spangled emperor at both locations. Not as abundant as in Okinawa, but it must be the temperature of water too low for them.
3. In the Village
Later on, young people of village invited me to drink under the banyan tree in the centre of village which is a social place for villagers. Talks, stories, and on and on. Then all the sudden, children were having some excitement. It seemed that there was another visitor to the tree.
Wondering blue sea turtle was trying to nest on the busy beach.
Result of Fly Fishing
- Doubledotted queenfish x 1