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Lure Fishing Along Rocky Shores

A different angling challenge

Chapter 11: Exciting Angling with Lures Along Rocky Shores

In one of my earlier articles, I wrote that one of the appeals of fishing along rocky shore waters is the variety of fish that can be caught. This time, I want to introduce the lure fishing method that I'm currently into when fishing along the shore. It's a style different from the ukifukase-tsuri (float or bobber drift) angling method I wrote about in that previous article about targeting largescale blackfish.

Different tools for the job

Angling with lures is popular in Japan too, in a variety of forms and places, from lakes and rivers to surf, inshore and offshore fishing, from boats or from land. If you go to a fishing gear store here, you'll almost always find display cases and racks packed with an incredible variety of lures. Among these, "metal jig" lures are the type often used in rocky shore fishing. The lighter ones weigh around 20 grams, while the larger ones will go up to around 100 grams. We choose the lure to use based on the fishing depth and the strength of the currents. Since metal jigs are made of lumps of lead or other metals, they're heavy for their size. This means they can be cast long distances and that the same lure can also be used for fishing either at the surface or along the sea bottom. This is why they're used so often. Also, they can be used in combination with jerk bait or pencil bait plugs and the like depending on the situation.

Another unique thing about lure fishing from rocky shores is that we usually use a longer fishing rod. When lure fishing from a boat, a 6-7 ft. rod is commonly used, and for larger offshore targets, a rod of around 8 ft. is typical. But, for rocky shore lure fishing, longer rods of 10-12 ft. are usually used. This is to get a longer cast and also to help in guiding the catch away from obstacles while maneuvering the often-difficult footing on the rocks of the shore when working the catch in.

On a fishing ferry boat headed for Udoneshima in the Izu Islands to shore-fish

The exciting challenge to land your target fish

The target fish for lure fishing fall into two main groups: migratory ones and ones living permanently in the given shore waters. Both types are ferocious fish eaters and can grow to be very large. In Japan, some of the most popular targets are blackfin seabass, grouper and amberjack. What makes lure fishing on rocky shores interesting is the challenge of observing the tidal flow and the contours of the shore to find likely fishing points, and then the need to bring the catch in by yourself once it's hooked. You have to rely solely on your own ability to maneuver it and yourself through the craggy outcroppings and often unfavorable footing during the fight. Of course, there's always the possibility that your line will be cut on the rocks during the fight, so actually landing a catch on a rocky shore is difficult. But, that's also one of the things that makes it so exciting. If you're mainly interested in catching a big fish, it's surely easier to do it from a boat, but landing a trophy fish from the shore in a rocky area is a unique challenge and one of the most rewarding an angler can experience.

This type of fishing can be enjoyed from rocky shore areas attached to land, but if you're trying for a big one, it's often best to take a fishing ferry boat out to an offshore island or rock outcropping. As I mentioned in my earlier article, relying on these ferry boats is the way I recommend from a safety standpoint. I hope you'll find an opportunity to try shore lure fishing.

A 86 cm, 5.7 kg yellowtail amberjack, caught on Niijima in the Izu Islands
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