NEW fishing techniques and new cultures are two of the greatest rewards of travelling and fishing, and you don’t always have to go far to experience these. On a recent day trip out of Brisbane fishing with a Japanese jigging club I had a fantastic experience, learning more about the new jigging craze and a whole lot of fun stuff about Japanese food culture.
I’m a huge fan of the club scene, having been involved in big clubs with a large diversity of people, techniques, likes and dislikes. It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the club scene though and I viewed this outing as something unique.
The Brisbane Japanese Fishing Club (and Brisbane Jiggers) members are extremely focused deepwater jig fishers. They also keep the numbers small for manageability. Being focused on one fishing approach means that the learning process is sped up for new members, plus product testing and refinement happens quickly. I had never before been involved with a small fishing club, nor such a purist group.
These guys have a successful approach – they charter a boat for the day, keep a few of their catch and then head to a Japanese restaurant (with a prior booking) to have their catches prepared in the finest of traditional methods. The food is enjoyed with their wives and families.
If you’re thinking about starting up a club like this the secret is to keep numbers small – just a group of friends with similar boats (or without a boat at all). Administration is a piece of cake, because there are no endless quarrels at meetings about raffle prizes or who should win the annual trophy. I’m not against big clubs (I spent a few years on committees as a teenager), I’m just offering an alternative if it takes your fancy.
A similar type of social fishing club can be set up via any meeting place or office group. The noticeboards of small marinas, clubs, taverns and the like are ideas that spring to mind. The objective is to keep it simple and fun, and getting a different person to organise each trip spreads the workload and adds variety.
One of the ways that the Jiggers inject variety into their excursions is to utilise the services of different charter boats at different locations on alternate outings.
The eight members of the club arrived at Newport Marina to head out on Ian Walker’s charter vessel Phantom (Mr Walker, the ghost who walks!). The trip took us around the top of Cape Moreton and we started at a few of Ian’s secret spots about halfway along the length of the island. Throughout the day we worked our way north, reef hopping from spot to spot, eventually ending up at a few patches around Hutchinson’s Shoal.
At the first spot the clubbies pulled up a mixed bag of squire, pearl perch and rock cod. All went into the live tank and were looked upon with salivating tastebuds. (I hadn’t yet been introduced to the dinner party, so for now I had to take their word for it).
When jigging there is always the hope that the next one will be the big one, and sure enough an unstoppable express bus slammed a jig and the fight was on. Inch by inch line was gained but the fish (probably an XOS amberjack) always seemed to be in control. We were all disappointed when the hook pulled.
Soon after there was more activity as the handle on a new reel broke a connecting pin. Jigging is a tough sport and this breakage was a good example of how some tackle isn’t up to the grade. Everybody had a close look at the reel, commenting about the bad luck, and I suspect everybody committed that model to memory in order to avoid it.
There was also a new lure on test that day. It proved to be a great fish catcher and there’s no doubt there’ll be many more of these aboard the boat for the club’s next outing. Every time the lure caught a fish there were plenty of onlookers, comments about good fortune and photos taken so that everybody had that lure electronically committed to memory for their next visit to the tackle store. This sort of thing accelerates the learning process, benefiting all members and reinforcing one of the great strengths of a purpose-built club.
We had a good feed aboard and the decision was made to go back to the big fish spot, the location where the titanic struggle had occurred earlier in the day. Fingers crossed… you can’t go home without one last try.
The twin diesels idled back and the jigs went over the side. Coloured line flowed from the reels and then the energetic rip-and-wind jigging technique began. The first hook-up registered a grunt as the unknown hoodlum headed for the bottom. Then a second drag screamed from the other side of the boat. Double hook-up!
The second fish hooked was the first to be landed, a nice legal cobia of around 4kg. The other fish proved to be a handful and there was plenty of anticipation as the amberjack attempted to dive under the boat a few times at the end of the fight. A clean headshot with the gaff and decky Daniel swung aboard 10kg of amberjack.
As we headed for home I thought that this was a great way to cap off the day, but there was more to come!
After disembarking it was time to head home to have a shower, pick up the family, and head to South Brisbane’sSakura Japanese restaurant. The food was exquisite and was prepared and eaten Japanese style. Much sushi, sashimi, a little sake and a taxi ride home for everybody. Quite a party! I certainly learned a lot about Japanese fishing, Japanese food and Japanese culture that day. These guys have a great thing going, so why not set up a little club for you and your mates?
The approach behind deepwater jigging is to locate baitfish schools in the vicinity of reefs. Once you’ve found the schools, freespool a long slender jig, weighing up to 300g or more, to the bottom and wind up through the bait (and bigger fish) with erratic rips and jigs of the rod tip.
In order to get the correct action from the lure, the rod and the lure’s weight/resistance through the water need to be carefully matched. Often this can only be done on the water and the advice of an experienced jigger like Yasu Kanazono comes in very handy when tackle is being set up for the day.
To minimise the potential for wasted effort, freespool the lure back to the bottom after it rises above the depth of the baitfish school (rather than painstakingly winding it to the top and starting all over again). To aid in this strategy, switched-on anglers use coloured lines with depth graduations and reels with counters.
The rods are special solid glass, two-piece models which join just above the foregrip for easier transportation, and all of the tackle is specialised for the jigging scene – even the clothing and tackle bags. Both overhead and threadline tackle is used.
The reels are filled with special super line that changes colour every 10 metres. This lets you know the depth of your lure and this (relative to the depth of the bait schools) helps you to keep your lure in the strike zone.
A good jigging boat uses the best available electronic technology for sounders, GPS and a plotter for refining the drift so you cover the hotspot on every pass.
1. The biggest fish of the day went to Mr Takashi Daido with a 10kg amberjack.
2. Mr Takashi Daido fights his amberjack. Heavy-duty spin tackle seemed to be the club members’ the preferred option for jigging.
3. President Mr Toshiyuki ‘Tony’ Nitta, lands a beautifully coloured cobia, one of the finest eating fish in the sea.
4. Back at the restaurant we dined on sushi and sashimi with ample sake to wash it down. It was a taxi ride home for all!
5. Sure Catch’s new jig comes complete with a pre-rigged single jig hook in the fashion used by purist jiggers. The club boys declared this jig as the best value for money and ease of use – plus it landed the biggest fish of the day and hooked another monster that got away.