|Mr Hirawa and Geki chan|
After another reasonably late night I knew I was in for a struggle getting up in the morning, another humid and hot day like all the others before. Today we were heading for Lake Gogowa an amazing piece of water up in the mountains that is known for big Bass. The numbers of fish were not huge but if I was going to get a big Bass this was the place to do it in the weather conditions. As luck would have it, my host and founder of Gan Craft is an expert on this water way so the best guide I could ever hope for, I would also be trying some big baits, the Gan Craft Jointed Claw and if I can pull off landing a fish on the big bait it will be more significant and special.
|Timber in the water|
We arrived at Lake Gogowa at about 0645 am, like many parts of Japan there is no boat ramps here, an important factor to note about Japan is that the access to the water for boat owners is not like Australia so boat ownership is somewhat rare and expensive. This particular lake had bass boats fitted with outboards and electric motors, a service that gets a lot of use and a great idea for trophy fishermen who want to take advantage of the possibility of finding that one big fish. Upon arrival I noticed that the water was somewhat brown sediment filled and had lots of floating timber, a bit like a logging loch used by timber harvesters in the USA, some logs were big enough to stand on so another good reason to have a rental boat and not your own as you make your way through the menagerie of timber. On board was myself Mr Kake and Mr Hiraiwa, with Mr Hiraiwa behind the wheel of the boat we made a slow trip through the timber mess and received constant reassurance that it would clear up even though at times sounded like a wood chipper with the prop constantly hitting all manner of objects in the water.
We made our passage safely and started to get some speed up as we headed to our location, the water was still very coffee looking but again more reassurance that things would clear, 5 minutes later as if a magician had waved a wand i could clearly see the bottom of the lake in about 8 meters of water and also the bottom at an angle from about 50 meters away. It was truly amazing how clear the water became in an instant, from some of my earlier photo’s you could probably see the amazing aqua coloration of the water.
Electric motor down we made our way up a long back water that is river fed, casting a jointed claw up current and drifting the lure back under slight pressure gave the lure an amazing action, the colour I was using was Ayu colour, after seeing the Ayu in the flesh I now know how important the colour is to the Bass fishery in Japan, if anyone is interested to know what an ayu looks like just have a look at the lure on the Gan Craft web site, its uncanny how much it resembles the real deal.
|Killers Bait Bass|
While casting and cruising around on the lecky we could see bass in abundance but they we not active at all in feeding and we could not entice a reaction bite so we made a slight change of plan, we went back to the area where the dirty and clean water met it was much like someone had drawn a line in the water to establish a border, fishing the dirty side we put the jointed claw away and went for something a bit nosier, Gan Craft produce a spinner bait called Killers Bait, released for the stores only weeks previous in Japan they were still very new to the market. I was using an outfit that belonged to Imazu a new Gan Craft employee, and the rod was a Gan Craft Superbrain teamed up with a Shimano Alderbaren, perfectly balanced with the spinner bait for someone as new to using a baitcaster this outfit made it a fairly easy exercise (still a few back lash events though) I punched about 15 casts into the bank edge and under the advice of Mr Hiraiwa was told not to allow the bait to sink but to retrieve as soon as the lure hit the water, keeping the rod top high kept the spinner bait high in the water column, something new to me. Did not take long but about 3 feet from the bank a bass of about 40cm smacked the spinner bait, Bass have a large mouth and can easily throw a lure not matter how well you set a hook so the pressure was maintained by high speed retrieval and then a lift of the fish straight into the boat. Now for me any Bass was a bonus but a 40cm model was bigger than I had hoped for, just for Geki San I let out a massive “MAKE SOME NOISE” from the top of my voice, so loud in fact that Mr. Nakahira and Geki San heard my screams over the mountain range in the other rental boat and came over to have a look. I was wrapped lots of high 5’s and laughing on board. The pressure of fishing a donut was off and now I could relax and just enjoy the guidance of one of Japans best bass anglers Mr Hiraiwa. For those of you who are not familiar with the phrase “Make some noise” a quick search on you tube for Gan Craft or Geki Yoshida will bring you some action packed bass fishing and “Make some noise!” is his catch phrase.
|Jointed Claw Big Bass|
We did some more searching around for some more bass in the dirty mix but could not entice a hit from anything so it was decided we make a move to the North West end of the lake, a spot that was known for big fish, not massive numbers of fish but some crackers. The water in this area is also great for using the big baits with some current and water where Ayu are likely to be found. Fishing with big baits is a lot different to fishing crank baits or any other lure for that matter, because of its size it has to look real or otherwise the fish will simply spook at such a large offering. With some practice I reckon I had it sorted, we had made our way to a section of water that had a deep run of current with rapids in the shallow on a bank in the middle of the river that comes into the lake, Bass could be seen from time to time holding on the deeper section. Mr Hiraiwa asked me to come to the front of the boat and cast into the back water so we did not spook the bigger bass holding in the current. All of a sudden a school of Ayu was being pushed up the shallow rapids launching out of the water as a big Bass chased them and herded them up, quickly I was instructed to cast up river above the school and wind as hard and fast as I could causing the lure to resemble a bigger version of what the Bass where chasing and make it an easier target. With a massive boof noise a big Bass grabbed the lure and took off, again maintaining pressure the bass was pulled back to the boat and again was instructed to just lift the fish into the boat. This was made easy with the heavy gear I was using and that is required when casting such heavy lures, Rod was a Gan Craft Dead Sword with a Daiwa Ryoga and what felt like about 15lb line so lifting the fish is quite simple when using the fishes own momentum. Before the fish was on the deck I knew it was much bigger than the one I had previously caught, this time not only were high 5’s being thrown around but also a little bit of dancing on the boat. I had done it, under the guidance of Mr Hiraiwa and the translating of Mr Kake I had managed to catch my first Bass on a Jointed Claw, a very special moment. This fish was going to be hard to top. Rather than continue pumping lures into the same area we moved away for a short period to give the fish a rest, so we spent half an hour or so having a smoko and a drink while I dangled my feet into the cool clear water. I have never done this before, normally I would just keep plugging away with the lures, however, not only did the fish have time to get some confidence up again but I also had time to just sit and enjoy the moment of catching a nice fish. If you have never done this before take some time and do it, the images imprinted in your mind are so more vivid and the memory of the even become much clearer.
|Killers Bait Big Bass|
After a break we moved back up to the same piece of water and started the whole process over again as we knew there were more big fish in the system. We kept getting lots of interest in the Jointed Claw but the fish just would not commit to a strike. I changed back down to the spinner bait to try and encourage a reaction bite from a fish both hunting and protecting its territory, we motored up to a shallow edi that was out of the current, Mr Hirainwa instructed me to make a long cast as far as I could up the back water and then like before as soon as the spinner bait hit the water start winding keeping the tip high, it took about 10 turns of the handle and again a massive boof and another big Bass was on its way back to the boat, so happy this time I actually started to dance a bit before the fish was even in the boat, As I had switched down to a lighter outfit lifting the fish in was not going to work as the line was only about 8lb mono so Mr Hiraiwa was able to lip grip the fish with his hands and lift the beast aboard. This fish was another cracking fish and I could not wait to get back to land and measure them up, photo’s taken and it was off to meet up with Geki and Chube’. We dropped Mr Kake off onto the other boat and got Geki San to get onto our boat so we could do some quick film bits, now Geki is Bass royalty in Japan and would be hard to impress, we had not told the others how we had gone yet so after some chatting on camera he opened the live well to expose my catch. The look on his face was priceless, to get one big Bass in a day is amazing but to manage 2 for some one of my experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so to see the look in the face of some one who is not easily impressed, I was stoked and could not believe how good a day it had been.
Still not quite up to speed of the significance of my catch I soon found that a BBQ was being orginised to celebrate my capture, wow, it was a big deal. I was dropped off at the hotel for a quick shower and change then back to Akio’s restaurant for a BBQ in his carpark, now normally he is closed on this day but he orginised people to come and help set up and cook while others orginised meat and food to be cooked. I could not get over the measures they went to in such short time to celebrate my catch, I was really humbled by the effort. Mr Hiraiwa orginised a couple of steaks for me to eat and he cooked them himself to perfection, I was honoured that he prepared and cooked my steak personally. We had lots of fun mucking around and joking in the carpark as the wine and drinks were flowing in a very homely feeling celebration.
|Kotaro and Iwatchi Karaoke|
Just as I thought the night was coming to a wind up at about 0100 it was decided by Mr Kake that a taxi into town for more whiskey and more Karaoke was in order. Oh dear it had been a massive day already but I would have given anything to see Mr. Kake put on another performance. Geki, Iwatchi and Shogun also came along for the ride. Lots of singing by everyone except for me and drinks galore again for everyone except for me, I just stuck to 1 beer and water and coke.
Today was massive, its amazing it seems that every day is getting bigger and better. Massive thanks to Mr Hiraiwa as without out his expert guidance in this region like many other anglers on the day I would not have caught a thing, also a massive thanks to every one who helped get the BBQ sorted it was a massive effort on short notice.
Some more pics:
|Kilers Bait Bass|
|Killers Bait Bass|
|Chube, Imazu and Geki|
|Mr Hiraiwa, me and Geki|
|Double Big Bass|
|Geki and his normal joking around, funniest guy ever|
|Rock Fish Sashimi, caught by Akio that day|
|Spoiled rotten with a cracking steak cooked by Mr Hiraiwa himself|
|More Karaoke fun|
|Chube, me, Kotaro and Geki|