Offshore Sinking Game – Ito Bay, Shizuoka

2008/9/17 Offshore Sinking Game – Ito Bay, Shizuoka

P1010136Row row row your boat… Look how far you have to row to get to the point for mackerel, frigate mackerel, yellowtail, and dolphinfish. I rented out a row boat in the morning and headed to the cross point about 38m deep. Almost a kilometer away from shore is something quite lonely and scary unless you have someone accompanying you.

In this case, I had to wait for couple of hours until 2 other boat with bait fishermen headed to the same destination. Thanks to them and the chum they used, school of mackerels soon rose to the middle range where I have some chance with my shallow smart fly tackle. So… how to attack the depth? I casted clouser deep minnow with full-line type IV, gave 5 minutes for it to sink, then retrieve quick and short, so that I don’t waste every inch I had to sink.

P1010135 First Hit: Mackerel

On the 3rd trial, I finally got a strong pull on fly line, then I felt the quick headshake  and short run. Very familiar feeling from my old days with baitfishing, and I had no doubt that it was a mackerel. However, it was a mackerel with fly liine sunk deep, almost vertical. It took me 10 minutes to bring it afloat. If you’d like to know what it is like to fish with vertical sinking line…. I can tell that it’s heavy as hell! Quite a fun in first 30 seconds and the rest are minutes of patience, like pulling up anchors of your boat.

After bringing the mackerel to the surface, I realized that I had no net to land it safely. I tried my fish grip, but it was too fast to catch. I decided to pull it up directly with the leader… bad idea. When I pulled it up, it gave me a super jerk which broke off the hook.

P1010137Second Hit: Dolphin Fish

After baitfishers chumed up the point pretty good, shool of mackerels began to shift to deeper layer where I could not reach with my shallow tackle. I had nothing to do for about an hour, then I saw small baitfish were darting from something. A guy next to my boat caught something heavy when he was pulling up his mackerel, then I saw a big golden fish with his mackerel in its mouth. It came off his hook,  but it was not alone.  I saw school of dolphin fish around our boats, so I casted out clouser immediately.

I tried about 5 casts and no bites at all. I changed the fly to the largest EP minnow I had and casted out to the boiling baitfish. Few retrieve then I felt heavy jerk on my fly line. First, it stopped for a moment, then rocketed downwards into the deep. First 5 minutes were nothing other than tag of war against the fish that just wanted to go deeper and deeper, then once it decided to come afloat, it became a game of speed. As the fish were speeding up to the surface, and line tension got lighter and ligter, I had to make decision whether I should continue to fight with line hand or change to reel hand. I hated this moment soooo much, because I was using unfamiliar right-hand retrieve Teton reel.

Fish gave me no time then it finally surfaced and started to jump like dolphin — no wonder it was called by that name. I still wanted to possibly retrieve the slack line and change it to reel fight, but Teton didn’t seem to give easy way out. So, I spent another 5 mintues to watch it go left and right just to keep enough tension on fly line to avoid breaking. Then came the moment of truth…. dolphin fish dived out of water over my boat to the other side without hook on its mouth any more. It hooked off.

No More Barbless and Right-hand Retrive Reel

It’s just silly that you don’t check your fly before casting. These 2 flies were both barbless… after coming back from inshore seaperch game. Needless to say that I will never use barbless hook in offshore case. Never! 

Reel with RH retreive was nothing but pain in the arse. You gotta be able to fight with zero slack in your system. Changing hand is not an option, especially on the small row boat where you body movement is limeted.

Also, never forget to bring landing net, for blue water fish are speed swimmers with tons of jerks… Can’t believe I wasn’t prepared this much… Don’t leave home without a net.


Although the results were terrible, I really enjoyed my first offshore game.  It would be better, if I had bigger boat and better preparation.

Mackerel x 1: 35cm, hook off
Dolphinfish x 1: 65cm?, hook off