Okinawan Adventures

Okinawan Adventures

Martyn White | Saturday, 3 August 2019

Last week in Okinawa was a much needed break from the hectic life of Tokyo. I left on the 6 am flight on Monday, got a ferry to the island I like, had checked in to the guesthouse and made the 30 meter walk to the flats by noon. Wonderful stuff. It was my fifth trip to this island and as it's all DIY fishing I've been slowly building up a picture of where fishes best when. Pretty handy for my fishing mates as they didn't have to prospect so much.

For me this island is primarily about the triggerfish, they are prolific with multiple shots available every day.  There are loads of picassos if that's your thing but there are unbelievable numbers of titan triggers and the odd pinktail. Of course trevally are always fun to catch and there are plenty of yellowspot, bluefin and brassues to cast to along with plenty of snapper, emperor and the odd tuskfish. GTs do show up from time to time (usually when you're carrying the #10 with a crab tied on) and are generally BIG, I wouldn't say they are there in the numbers that would make it psychologically viable to make them the main target on this island.  
 
Over the week conditions were stable, scorching and not too windy with decent visibility most days. Luckily we missed the typhoon that struck 2 days before I got there.  Hiromiki arrived 1 day early, eager to get started on his first saltwater trip.  He managed to hook a trevally before we arrived but suffered, as many trout anglers do when they first hit the salt, a broken tippet and a bit of a shock at the power of a decent saltwater fish.   Unfortunately, Miki had tied boxes of flies in preparation but hadn't practised casting very much and struggled to get shots of quickly enough  for the cruising bluefin and yellow spot trevallies that were showing up frequently. I wonder what percentage of people making the switch this happens to, I bet it's high.  It was a week of tough lessons for Miki really, from casting to footwear issues to bad hook choices-cheap hooks won't do it for triggers. Fortunately he caught enough snapper and emperor to keep him interested and did catch a nice brassy trevally around 70cm on his last day, he's hooked and will be much better prepared for his next trip.
 
I had a very enjoyable week, with lots of yellowspots seemingly eager to eat my crabs and clousers. While there weren't any really big fish, it's still a lot of fun to make those quick presentations and get the eat, even from 6lb fish. It's the shot and eat that I really enjoy most, and I definitely benefitted from having learned Paul's snakehead shot.I caught several trevally that appeared from the glare or became visible after passing cloud that I wouldn't have had time to catch if a false cast was involved. It's a great cast to have if you do any kind of shot fishing.  As the week went on I was seeing loads of triggers, especially as I got more keyed in on what the look like subsurface. The shallow tailers were incredibly spooky and I think all but one spooked as the fly landed, even on "good" soft landing shots. I had the most eats from cruising fish that could be lead a fair distance, or those fish that were tailing in water deep enough that they were fully submerged.  The deep tailers seemed particularly aggressive, often eating the crab before it reached the bottom. Sadly, the features that make the trigger population so high, also make it very difficult to land them and should the eat be successfully converted to a hooked fish the chances of being cut off on the reef or the fish finding a hole to hide in are very high, even with a 20lb tippet.  I had eats from probably 20 titans, hooked up with about 9, but landed none on this trip- I was in danger of runnning out of velcro crabs and only one made it home. I love triggerfish but I hate them too. The silver lining is that I had no crushed hooks, so have found the hook for these fiends, the Gamakatsu SL11-3. It's the one. On the last day, with a good tide and having seen some GTs the 2 days before, I decided to have the #12 in my hand for most of the day I only had a half shot at a nice fish that was swimming the wrong way but still enjoyed the day.
 
All in all it was a very enjoyable much needed trip, plenty of exciting and challenging fishing with good friends, good food and relaxed Okinawan hospitality. While Okinawa probably isn't on many people's radar as a fly fishing destination. It's not easy and there's only one guide as far as I know but  there are lots of opportunities for the DIY angler looking for something a bit different and is well worth considering.