Summer Holiday – Miyako Jima
After a long journey from Kuala Lumpur – flight to Tokyo, change planes for Naha, Okinawa; and finally a third flight from Okinawa to Miyako Jima, we arrived at a sparsely populate coral island set in the Pacific Ocean. As we flew in, we could see the azure waters, fringing barrier reef and shallow water patch reefs that characterise the island’s shoreline. It looked really exotic and held the promise of a shot or two at some reasonable shore fishing!
When we arrived at the hotel, we were a little disappointed. The hotel was reasonable, but it had few facilities and was situated at the edge of an industrial sized dock complex, which included several small harbours enclosed by breakwaters adjacent to a large ferry port ! We realised that we would have to hire a car and explore the island to get the most out of this holiday. We spend the next few days exploring the island and snorkelling at the wide variety of reefs available. There were certainly plenty of fish around – we saw pompano, trevally and grouper in addition to numerous species of parrot and angela fish and other reef species. The reef condition was variable around the island – in some places it was vibrant and colourfull; in other locations there was a lot of broken coral debris, algal infestation and only maybe 20-30% of living reef.
We’d already had an evening bait-fishing with prawns off the harbour wall outside the hotel – we got pleny of bites but didn’t manage to hook anything on the soft prawn baits (we’d also mastered the technique of using a sliding float rig set to hold the bait just off the rocky bottom). After spending a few days exploring the island, we bought a telescopic rod and light spinning reel for my son Sion, and decided to try fishing off a small harbour on the SE point of the island. I was firing poppers, jigs and rappalas into the harbor mouth channel entrance without success. Sion (and my wife) on the other hand were bait-fishing with shrimps on a float rig – they were getting plenty of touches but, again, the shrimps were too fragile & kept getting stolen from the hook. Lesson learnt – we decided to fish from the harbor break-water the next day using sanma (Pacific saury, a type of oily baitfish) for bait. We fished at night and immediately my son started catching small fish – weird bug-eyed types of snapper, breams and occasional angel fish. We decided to put one out as a live-bait and it was snatched almost immediately without hooking up!
The next day, I hit the harbor after breakfast, and spent a few hours popping and plugging at the harbor mouth. After about 45 minutes I raised a large Great Barracuda to the popper, only for it to shy away & disappear into the depths. I redoubled my efforts but to no avail. That was the end of the action for the day. The next day was overcast with light rain. I again hit the harbor, managing to get a strike on a small yozuri metal sardine (which again failed to hook-up). Later, a huge GT (c.20kg) swam out of the harbor mouth, showing no interest in my rappala at all! I was so wound up. We decided to return that evening to try live-baiting.
That evening, we returned and I tried the lures once again whilst my son fished for bait. We soon had a goatfish to try for bait. I put this out under a float & waited, but nothing was interested in it, even the brace of trevally that I saw swim out of the harbor entrance! Then, as darkness approached, the bait-fishing picked and our next bait was goggle-eyed red snapper type creature. It had very strong scales & was difficult to hook, but I soon had it out under a float with a chemical light stick attached. After a while, the float was suddenly ripped under water heading seawards, but as soon as I wound down ….. nothing! I retrieved the bait & it seemed unscathed, so we reset it. But after a further hour, with no action (despite seeing a small shark and a large ray), I decided to call it a day. Time to return to the hotel for some food and Japanese beer. Talking about beer – I opted for my usual Kirin beer. My wife, on the other hand opted for the strangely named (but low calorie) Zero Life and Asahi Style Free beer!!
Anyway, despite not catching anything of note, it was good to see that there are still a few places left in the world that offer a chance to catch something decent from the shore. I may even pass by this place again some day!!
Azure waters – plenty of fish to be seen!
Miyako Jima Reef
The ammo (unfortunately blanks on this trip!)
Sustenance – oishi Japanese beer