The Industrial Zone

The Industrial Zone

Martyn White | Wednesday, 20 November 2019

When I was a wee guy, the Crystal Maze with Richard O'Brian was one of my favourite TV shows. I particularly enjoyed the Aztec and Medieval zones, my least favourite was the Industrial zone, but I still liked it. Which is kind of how I feel about the near shore fishing in Tokyo Bay, it's not the kind of environment that I'm really excited about fishing in but it's also cool in its own way, especially at night. Japanese seabass are a very popular target species around Tokyo.(probably 2nd only to black bass) The massive construction and storm defences around Tokyo, Yokohama and Chiba has created a fantastic environment for seabass and the species they prey on.

Since Super typhoon Hagibis hit and the following typhoon passed by, my plans of stretching out the smallie fishing seem shot as temperatures have dropped and the rivers have been mostly in flood. Which combined with reports of the bay fishing great meant a couple of early season seabass trips. So Dave and I booked up and got ready.  Our first trip was a 5-10 am slot, this isn't when we'd usually go but the reports had been good so we decided to give it a try. The usual daytime tactic is to get close to structure-either a wall, dock or ship -and cast your line along the side of it.  Not  just casting parallel, you actually want the line to roll on to the structure if possible then strip the fly back. I make a sort reachy roll cast but draw the forward stroke down and across my body.  Technically the fishing is simple if you can get the fly- usually a mylar minnow (the one in the picture is from the guide's box) or small baitfish- close enough to the structure. But daylight fishing is often slow and this session was true to form, a few fish coming up and slashing noncommittally at the fly, with only one landed. 


Night time is the right time, Tokyo is lit up and the bass are active. A week later we were back for a 6-11pm outing and the fishing was better, much better. The bass are still pretty structure oriented, but are far more willing to move. We were consistently finding active fish smashing small herring and anchovies on the surface. A lot of small fish with a few decent sized ones is the norm at this time of year and we probably had around 60 fish on this trip,which made me much happier than I look in the photos! The most common tactic at night is to fish a white zonker on a floating or preferably an intermediate line around structure or wherever you find boiling fish, it works and works well. I prefer something a bit different, my go to is an intermediate line with a fairly short leader around 6' and a buoyant fly like a rubber candy or small siliclone. This allows you to wake the fly at the surface if that's how they want it, fish slowly or even static, I catch a lot of fish by just stopping my retrieve and letting the fly hang for a while. I do also carry a sinking line set up just in case, but rarely need to pick it up. 


I know people do travel here for yamame and iwana, which are beautiful little trout but if you are ever in Japan, a short night session for seabass is worth a go. It's not 3wts on mountain streams, but it will offer a weird steam punky fishing experience that's probably not what you're used to. 


You don't need any fancy gear, any 7 or 8 wt outfit will do, these fish aren't runners and you'll not need to fight them on the reel. Flies casen easily be picked up at one of the fly shops around Tokyo if you don't tie your own. There are loads of guides, but not much information is available in English but I'd suggest going with Masuda-san at Seakuro, he has some English and is pretty good at hand signalling too!