Shore Game at Estuary – Ito, Shizuoka

2009/7/14 Shore Game at Estuary – Ito, Shizuoka

I headed out for boat fishing in Ito Bay hoping to encounter some school of fish eaters. I arrived too early to Ito and the boat house was closed, but tide was too good to miss, so I headed out to the point I wanted to try out: estuary of Ito River. When I got there… there were school of fish as far as eye could see! Black porgy, flat head sea perch, mullet, puffer, and even ayu. All the species who are accustomed to both fresh and salt waters showed up here for some kind of event?

Part 1: Morning High Tide (5:30-7:00)


Big black porgy in size 40-50cm were swimming in the current waiting for tide to come up so that they could swim further upstream for whatever they are looking for. There is a school of ayu tempting perches, but porgies weren’t acting any more aggressive than mullets. They aren’t fish eaters, but looking for something, but not feeding on detritus like mullets.  Crustaceans? Annelids? I picked out my 7′ 8wt rod with floating line and rigged 60lb butt, 30lb->16lb->8lb taper with 4lb tippet to make 15′ leader system to make natural drifit of nymph.

I tied #14 floating wooly nymph brown, one that worked pretty nicely against mullet before, to see if they show any interest. I presented the fly little upstream to avoid triggering suspecion. As fly drifted to the head porgy of the school for the first time, it noticed the fly and swam along the fly like trout did. As it observed the fly along the drift for about a meter, it left the fly and went back to its original position. The porgy ingored the fly from the second time on.

Next, I tied #18 UV nymph parl, one that worked like candy to small fish in harbor. Again, I put it into nautural drift. It attracted puffers before it got to the designation for porgy, so I had to save the fly and wait for re-cast. By the time of pick up, the porgy finally noticed my presence on the river bank and changed the position to the other side where distance is well kept. It then igonored anything floating for minutes, so I gave up and headed for boat house.

Part 2: Late Afternoon High Tide (17:00-18:30)

I came back to the estuary after returning from boat fishing for the second trial. I thought darker sky may provide cover for black porgies who may show more aggressiveness against fly. I had plan to raise the aggressiveness. I brought back the chum I used for the boat game and put that on bit upstream to generate feeding frenzy.

Well… it worked for puffers, ayu, and mullets who started to make active rise and boil all over the estuary, but not porgies. They just stayed calm and showed only sign of interest by swimming little closer. I tried more drifiting with the previous 2 patterns, hare’s ear nymph, and algae pattern. But it caught nothing other than small puffer and mullets.

Switch Tactics: Drift -> Fall & Bottom Bump

I notced that porgy in the estuary was spooked by fly line, annoyed by butt section, but not bothered at all at leader from mid section on. So I cut the leader system into 60lb-> 30lb -> 16lb tippet to make 12′ system for flat fishing style. I tied crazy charlie and presented to 1m upstream of porgy. It noticed the fly, stayed on the same lane where fly was sinking, then went off the surface. "Yes!" I screamed for I thought it was about to take the fly, but I felt nothing aftewards.

I couldn’t see what was happening in the bottom, so  I suspect the porgy inspected the fly sunk in the bottom, but it figured not edible immediately. I then tried the same cast and short retrieve to mimic goby. Porgy didn’t even come after the fly, instead it excited the puffers.

I changed the fly to mantis shrimp and tried the cast, let it sink to the bottom, and twitching retrieve to bump the bottom. No pogy chased after the fly.


By this time, it got dark and I pretty much gave up on making porgy think my fly edible, so I took out popper in hope porgy may attack it by irritation. I casted the popper little upstream, make tight line to ready for the first pop, then start to pop when it reached within 50cm upstream of fish. POP! It made larger pop than I expected, and it triggered the porgy … It reacted with big splash on the surface and never came back to the center of river. It surely excited the fish, but spooked him at the same time.

Conclusion & Result

Porgy seems to take time before it makes decision to eat. It showed signs of interest when fly was drifting and falling, but it’s not enough to take him into bite. I need to have method to make it chase the fly harder. Next time, I will work on research to see what black porgy is eating to get more clue.

– Black porgy x 0…
– Mullet x 2, floating furly nymph and UV nymph
– Grass puffer x 3, UV nymph and crazy charlie

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