Monday saw 3 of us heading out into Tokyo bay and round into the Sagami gulf. Seichii and I have been making a regular thing of these trips for years now and were joined by Chuck who's really quite new to offshore and tackle 10 weight and above, in fact this was only his second time out! It was good to see that he'd been practising and was able to cast well enough to get into the fish. It didn't take long before the first shout of 'tori yama' (literally 'bird mountain')came from the captain-he'd spotted a sizeable flock of birds taking advantage of a work up. It turned out to be small yellowtail kingfish rather than Mahi. Unfortunately there was a good wind blowing in the same direction as the current so the boat was just drifting too fast to get a decent speed on the retrieve, so there were a lot of fish following and turning away from the fly, the only takes coming when there was enough of a lull to allow us to actually move the fly! There's no point in killing yourself so we switched to spinning rods and stick baits, picked up a few fish to get the blank off and moved on.
It didn't take long for the wind to drop to a near glass out and we found plenty of work ups throughout the day. With the calm conditions the fly rods came back to the fore. and it didn't take long before we got into some fish. Once he came to terms with compensating for boat movement,Charles managed his first mahi after a few chases and missed eats. It's always great to see someone get their first bluewater big game fish-even the small ones are a huge leap from river bass in terms of power and speed. As the day went on we kept up a fairly steady stream of fish as we found schools spread across the gulf. Although we were finding good numbers, there weren't many big fish around- perhaps they're also running a bit late. But despite the small average size, it wasn't a particularly easy day though as most of the fish were keying on tiny anchovies in the 3-7 cm range. Anyone who's experienced pelagics on such tiny bait knows what a weird blend of excitement and frustration it can cause. If the timing is just right it and you hit the work up before the bait is very tightly balled, you can expect some exciting and technical fishing. One of my favourite things is spotting a single mahi moving to the surface and casting in front of it with a crease fly or similar subtle topwater fly and stripping it away with the hope of bringing the fish back up to eat it.
Aside from the fish, the main reason I enjoy offshore fishing is just being on the ocean. There's something special about being out there, away from the shipping lanes far from land. Pods of dolphin, sharks and rays are regular sights out there and as good as TV shows like Blue Planet are, there's nothing like seeing them live and in the flesh.