Ayu Fishing Requires a Rod 30-40 Feet Long

Ayu Fishing:  How a Peacetime Samurai Training Exercise Created a New Sport

Ayu Fishing by Debbie Kay

The ayu is not much to look at.  However, this tiny silver smelt with golden fins has played a large part in Japanese history.  It is the inspiration for the modified fly fishing technique of ayu fishing, which has served not only as a way to catch these tasty “sweetfish” but also as a way to keep samurai skills sharp during the two and a half centuries of the Edo period, when samurai swordplay was rare.   Instead, the technique that requires a rod 30-40 feet long is believed to have been developed specifically for this purpose.  While this theory is not entirely proven, it is a favorite of fishing historians.

The Edo Period

In Japan, the Edo Period was known as a two and a half century period of peace and isolationism.  Samurai served as guards for noblemen, but rarely if ever saw war.   Samurai enjoyed a high status similar to the knights of medieval Europe.  Because of this, they were one of the few groups of people who were allowed to fish the rivers.  As many of them were stationed to nobles who lived in country manors far from any action or other forms of entertainment, fishing was a very popular activity for them.  They created specialized rods, used scraps of silk kimonos as tied flies, and even bent their own sewing needles as hooks.  If the legend is true, the techniques in ayu fishing mimicked many aspects of swordplay, and fishing barefoot along the rocks with a moving current developed balance.

How Ayu Fishing Works

Today, ayu is a very popular fish and is raised in hatcheries for sport fishing.  Today, it typically takes place at a wood and stone weir called a Yana.  Ayu is highly territorial, and the trick to catching them is to make them feel like their territory is being encroached upon.  This can be done by presentation or by using live bait.   Hooks are not taken by mouth, but instead the flies and bait have them along the belly and gills to accidentally hook the territorial fish when it comes to fight for its property.  If you are using live bait, then typically the bait fish is switched out each time with the new fish to keep any of them from being too worn out.

The fish are highly valued for culinary purposes, and they are nicknamed sweetfish because they have notes of fruit in their flavor.  They are believed by some to be the tastiest fish in all of Japan.

Invention or Imitation?

While it is widely believed that ayu fishing was the sport of samurai, it is not clear whether they invented the technique or brought it over from Korea after a series of raids.  A very similar technique called cheonde existed there, though the historical records are not clear as to which technique predated the other.  Whatever you believe, if you have the opportunity to try ayu fishing, it can be fun to imagine yourself following in the footsteps of these iconic warriors.

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Shark Fishing off Marthas Vineyard

Shark Fishing By Sean Obrien

Martha’s Vineyard has long been a bastion of fun for everyone from the average tourist and their family to the President of the United States.  Quaint shops, nice beaches, great people, and a wonderful island to explore.  But Jaws was filmed here for a reason – off the shore of this tourist attraction is a haven for sharks.  There are a huge number of species of shark that can be found off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, and off the coast of Cape Cod as a whole.  Everything from blue sharks to dogfish sharks, and from porbeagles to makos.  But in the warmer months of the summer, you can find great hammerheads, tiger sharks and great whites.

shark fishing

Shark fishing has been a bountiful business off the Cape, with multiple charters offering shark fishing tours, with basically a guarantee they will get time on the rod with one of these monsters.  The advancements that have been made in recent years as far as gear is concerned have benefited the monster shark fishing community perhaps more than any other. What was once used for school bonito is now able to handle the line for sharks, because of advancements in braided line.  Reels and rods have gotten smaller, lighter, and more able to handle the fish as well. The key to getting a shark on and landing it is to have your gear set up properly.  The best bet is to use 10 – 20 ft of 480 lb to 500 lb braided cable connected to the hook and a swivel that is rated above 250 lbs.  From that point, you can use 80 lb braided test, and you will be able to put enough line on the reel to allow the fish to run.  Most reels will be able to handle 500 or 600 yards of this line, and it is much lighter than monofilament.

The next item on your shark fishing checklist is chum.  Placing a 5 gallon chum bucket off the side of the boat is key to creating the optimum chum slick to attract the sharks.  Some of the captains I spoke with bring 6 five gallon buckets, and they hang one off the front and one off the back to start, and then keep one midship all day to maintain the slick as required.  The goal with your chum slick is to attract the sharks, and not feed them.

Choose areas that appear to have a water temperature between 65 and 68 degrees ( or close) and that may have some activity occurring already.  The bait should be standard – oily fish like mackerel or bluefish, which are plentiful and very easy to grab on the boat ride out.  These fish will secrete oil into the water and assist in attracting the apex predator of the seas that you are chasing.  When using the mackerel, butterfly the fish t o remove the spine which will result in more fluttering action, and assist in a hook set.
Speaking of a hook set, when the bait is taken, the general rule of thumb is to wait 5 seconds, then reel tight and give two big pulls to set the hook in the jaw of the shark.  At this point, the fight is all that is remaining.  With braided line, keep it tight the entire time, and when the hook has been set, it is a waiting game to see who gets tired first.  Fight the good fight, take the picture, and release the catch.  Shark fishing off the Vineyard offers many great opportunities for a once in a lifetime experience.  Make sure you allow someone else to have the same experience you were able to enjoy.

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Antique Lures: Hidden Fortune in Grandpa’s Tackle Box?

Antique Lures by Debbie Kay

If you are a pack rat like I am, you probably have a number of vintage items from family members long departed in your attic.  Old pictures and letters, furniture and other keepsakes are common, and help us hold on to memories of the past.  If you have an old tackle box in your attic, you may have more than a treasure trove of memories, however, as there are a number of hand-crafted vintage lures that collectors will pay a pretty penny for.  If you are in possession of an 1853 Giant Copper Haskill Giant Minnow, for example, it can be worth over $100,000 at auction.  There are plenty more that value in the thousands, according to this 2008 Bassmaster article, and the prices years later have surely increased.

A List of Valuable Lures

In addition to the famous giant minnow, here is a look at some of the other high-end lures

  • $30,000 and up: The Heddon frog is probably the second most valuable antique lure.  It was created by a honey manufacturer as an incentive to get customers to buy his honey.
  • $15,000: There are a few different lures that were valued at this price in 2008, including the first wooden plug bait from 1897, the Shakespeare Revolution Wood Bait.  Also in this category is the Haskell Fish Hook from 1859.
  • $10,000-$12,000: There are a number of lures within this range.  Two flying Helgrammites from the 1800’s one by Pflueger and one by Comstock.  Also, the Krantz and Smith Chatauqua Minnow from 1908, the Friend-Pardee Hook Minnow, the Heddon Night Radiant, Moonlight 1913 Special, Pflueger Trory Minnow, Pfleuger Decoy, Heddon Dowagiac Minnow and Shakespeare New Albany Bait.

How Do I Know What I Have?

It can be hard to know what you have.  Your first clue that an old lure has value is in the care of its crafting.  Is it handmade, hand painted, and either wood (which often did not last) or hand-crafted metal?  Does it come from the 1800’s or early 1900’s?  These are signs that your lure probably has some value. There are a number of online sites that can help to match your lure, or you can send photos to forums to get an ID.

How to List and Sell Your Antique Lures

You won’t get the best value for your lure unless you have the attention of collectors willing to pay top prices.  Auctions work for this, or you can sell to someone who deals in antique lures.  The best way to sell to a dealer is to show the lure to several different ones, and see what each of them is willing to offer them.  Make sure you have a concrete ID on your lure so that you can also do your research on how much they have sold for.  Dealers will want to re-sell, so you will get less than full price, often, but you will also get money faster than if you wait for it to sell at auction or on consignment.

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Ways to Turn Your Sport into a Fishing Career

Fishing Career by Debbie Kay

Most fishermen have probably thought about how to get paid to do something that they love.  If this is something that you have considered, there are a lot of different ways to make a fishing career.  You may just be starting out in life, or you may be considering a new position for your retirement.  Either way, you might be surprised at how many opportunities are out there to get paid to fish or be around fishing.  Here are five great ways to get paid to fish:

  1. Go Commercial

This is a gimme, but it shouldn’t be ignored.  Commercial fishing is a tough way to earn a living, especially in harsh climates like Alaska.  However, all of your long days are compressed into seasons away, and you return to lots of free time to fish the way you love.

  1. Going Pro is a Great Fishing Career

If you are really skilled, you have the time and freedom to travel and you can market yourself into some sponsorships, then professional tournament fishing is a great fishing career.  This is a difficult thing to start if you have a family who depends on you to be home every night, and you need a large regular income.  However, it’s a great way to reinvent yourself if you’re ready to pull up roots.

  1. Become a Guide or Charter Captain

If you live in or are willing to move to a destination fishing area, then becoming a guide or charter captain is a great way to get paid to fish.  It does require some startup capital, but for many, it can be a wonderful way to spend your retirement years, or even to begin your working years doing something you truly love.

  1. Become a Fisheries Scientist

Not everyone is a fan of fishing enforcement.  However, there are a lot of great jobs in fisheries science, and it is a great opportunity to combine education, career, and a love of fishing.  Fisheries scientists who work for universities and agencies get the opportunity to explore protected waters, travel the world fishing and create their own projects to demonstrate population, life history, management and even the science of fishing gear.  It can be an excellent way to do what you love in ways that no one has ever tried before.

  1. Invent, Review or Demo Gear

Gear is a great way to turn fishing into a profitable endeavor.  If you’re clever enough to invent a new lure, you can do very well if you know how to patent and where to market.  Bloggers from every industry have done well reviewing items through blogs and online videos.  Fishing gear is no exception.  Finally, if you are a blogger or reviewer, some companies will send you free gear and possibly even pay you to review their items for them, as a part of their social media advertising campaign.

If you love fishing and you’re ready for a life change, there are a lot of great opportunities to begin making money in a fishing career.  All it takes is some courage, the resources you need to support the change, and a love of fishing.


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The Perfect Fishing Cars

Bentley Launches it’s First Fishing Cars Especially for Fly Fishermen

Fishing Cars by Debbie Kay

There are many different things you need to consider when you are in the market for a new or used car.  Family, pets, hobbies and local weather are four major considerations that will narrow down your car choices.  Until now, there hasn’t been fishing cars that have stood out just for the options they offer fishermen.

If you have a few extra hundred thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you may want to check out the latest upgrade to the Bentley Bentayga.  This special edition fishing car, geared especially for fly fisherman, has a number of different features created specifically to assist fly fishermen.  The upgrade includes a custom leather, wood and aluminum storage box the size of the trunk that contains four cylinders for fly rods and drawers for flies. This upgrade adds about $100,000 to the cost of the quarter-million dollar car.

Options on Fishing Cars

If you’re saving that money to buy something else, like a house (or your dream fishing boat?), there are a lot of other choices as well.  There are several different features that can make an excellent car for whatever kind of fishing that you love.  These include:

  • All-Wheel Drive or 4WD: The ability to reach remote locales can up your fishing game.  This can mean driving on dirt roads, logging roads and off-road altogether.  Having four wheel drive or all-wheel drive can make a big difference.
  • Storage: The ability to have enough room for your gear is clearly necessary when fishing.  However, it’s nice to be able to store wet items without worrying about damage to upholstery or carpeting.  This can be accomplished with an SUV with a rubber mat in the back, a station wagon with a waterproof barrier or a pickup truck.
  • Tow Capacity: If you fish with a boat, the ability to tow is important as well.  Make sure your tow load is enough for your trailered boat, not just the weight of the boat.  Diesels are known for their tow capacity, though a gas engine with a V8 or higher can do the same.

Car Features to Avoid

On the flipside, there are also a number of cars with features that can land you in trouble if you try to push them too hard.  Though they can do in a pinch, they’re far from perfect.  These features include:

  • Low Clearance: A car with a low clearance can easily get stuck if you’re parking anywhere but a lot.
  • Limited Storage: Economy cars like smart cars are great for fuel efficiency, but they don’t offer much space for anything but a collapsible rod and a small tackle box.   Roof racks are a possible solution, but they don’t fit on every kind of vehicle.
  • Perfect Condition: A car with a pristine paint job and interior won’t necessarily remain in such good condition the day after a fishing trip.  A paint job won’t stay perfect after a drive down a brushy road.  Make sure you’re willing to accept that in whatever car you bring fishing.

Still not sure?  Find fishermen who are driving your possible fishing cars at public sites, and ask them what they think.   What’s your go-to car for fishing cars?  Leave us a comment below.

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