Friday I saddled up the bike with the inflatable SUP, tent, tarp, and fishing gear and made my way to the Japan Sea. Even caught a fish. (An edible one this time.) Check out the video below.
The other day I posted about my arrival at the Iwami Seaside Park on my weekend Motocamp, SUP & fishing trip. Well, it turns out, that while the bugs were biting on Friday night, the fish were biting on Saturday. I ended up pulling in a Flathead (コチ in Japanese) while trolling over crystal clear water just a few hundred meters offshore.
I figured I might get lucky and pull in a flounder, as I see them skirt away from my shadow fairly often, but I was a bit shocked by this fish. My reaction was something like “What the hell are you?!?” Luckily there were a few old guys surf casting near my take-out, so they filled me in on the details. Apparently, these only grow to about 60 cm locally, so at 50 cm this was pretty good catch. They suggested I slice it up for sashimi, but we ended up just tossing it on the grill. Good eating. Not bad for my first edible catch from the SUP.
I love living so close to such a great camping spot…
Tonight I led the house on the bike around 17:00, with the SUP and camping gear all loaded and in place. On the way I stopped at the Kokufu supermarket to pick up beer, ice, and food. While I was there I was approached by an old Japanese guy. Turns out he was not there for shopping: he had just seen my bike and wanted to stop for a chat. Such interactions are a bit rate out this way, so I happily gave the old guy 30 minutes of my time. We chatted about bikes, the challenges of living abroad (he spends a lot of time in Indonesia) and there was a good ten-minute rant there at the end about how Abe is destroying Japan, or something along those lines… As such, I was running a bit late when I arrived at the camp site tonight. By the time the tent and tarp were up, and the SUP was properly inflated, the sun had already set. So rather than going for a paddle in the dark I just settled in for some ramen, beer, and perhaps a good book. Note to self: ALWAYS bring along bug spray or mosquito coils just in case. While I used to be under the impression that Japanese mosquitoes just didn’t find me to their liking, it seems I have gotten tasty in my old age.
Since paddling along the coast the other day, and observing all of the men out fishing on the cliffs as I passed by, I have been obsessed with the idea of trolling behind my SUP. It has driven me to distraction…
All week I have spend my evenings sketching ideas and furtively googling “fishing SUP” and perusing the links. While I found a lot of avid fishermen out there on SUPs, which led to sketches like the one above, I just did not think that was what I was looking for. Most of these people seemed to be fishermen first, and paddlers second. I, on the other hand, find myself leaning the other way. As such, I was really interested when I found a few posts about an avid paddler who just happens to drag a trolling line behind her.
This seemed much more my speed. Here is a gal who goes out with barely more than a line, and brings back some impressive fish. Reading up on her set-up had me reworking my plans. She actually ties her line off to her paddle, which somehow does not get in the way of paddling, and just tosses it aside when she gets a hit. She then pulls in the line hand-over-hand. To get this to work for me, I mocked up the image on the left. The idea was to connect the line to the paddle near the handle, and run it through a carabiner connected to the side carry handle. This way a strong hit would pull forward, rather than back, so I would be more likely to land on the board if I hit sent me reeling. Also, I added a float to the paddle, and another by the carabiner to keep from damaging the paddle if it were pulled up tight.
Additionally, I started wondering what would happen if I hooked a ヒラマサ (Yellowtail Amberjack) rather than a ワカナ (Japanese Amberjack) as planned. While ワカナ, which the name for a juvenile of the species, are about 30 to 40 cm, ヒラマサ run a meter or larger. They are both also known as ‘fighting fish’, so they pull. So, I decided that I just may have to rig things so that I can run the line through the bow loop if a larger fish starts to drag me. As my SUP only has a 30 inch beam, I don’t think things will go to well if a strong fish starts pulling perpendicular to the board.
It was at this point that I realized that I was complicating things, so I just hopped in the car and headed over to the fishing shop. I ended up buying some line, lures, and a hand reel to get started. Then I went all out and picked out a ‘fish grabber’, pliers to remove hooks, and a stringer to drag my catch. This last one is the most interesting to me, as I once read, and had confirmed by the fish shop clerk, that if you hang Amberjack on a stringer they tend to attract other amberjack. It’s like chumming for fish with their chums…
So there is the simplified kit. It should all fit easily under the lashings on the front of the board without adding much weight. That means that as long as I don’t catch any fish I could still use the bike to bring the SUP to the beach. I am sure that the wife would be more than happy to provide some ‘fish taxi’ service on the off-chance that I actually get my hands on something…
No matter how many times I visit Tatamigaura, I always find it interesting. More so now that I can view it from the sea. It is a quick trip from the Iwami Seaside Park (which is a GREAT camping area), so it makes for some good exploring.
I have actually paddled the area a number of times already, but since it was a beautiful Sunday morning, and my head was still a bit unclear from the Saturday night camping activities, I thought it would be a great day to take it slow. The water agreed, as it was as smooth as glass, which makes it far easier to hug the rocks and navigate the more interesting caves and inlets.
In the interest of brevity, the video I threw together is just highlights, but I hope you find it interesting. Even though I was there in person, and alone to boot, I still enjoy watching it. I have also consciously decided to not add background music to paddling videos, as it is the stillness of the experience that I truly enjoy. Gliding along with nothing but the sound of my paddle and board moving through the water accompanied by waves slapping rocks, birds calling out, and the occasional sound of fish jumping and/or flying.
Here is an album of some highlights from the paddle.
The Whale stone
Entering a canal in Tatamigaura
Approaching the cave
Parked in a cave
I actually spotted a few fish on this paddle, and a number of fishermen as well, so a trolling rig for the paddle board is in the work. I am hoping to be catching my dinner during my weekend paddles from now on.
Kokufu beach is a rather popular surfing location in Hamada. Every weekend you are guaranteed to see a lot full of cars with Hiroshima license plates as the watermen make their way to the Japan Sea. It is a good starting point for me on the SUP, as going left is good for a 10k paddle to the Hamada port, and right is a quick paddle past Tatamigaura to the Iwami Seaside Park.
As I was camping with family and friends at the Seaside Park this last weekend, Kokufu made a nice turn-around point for my morning paddle on Sunday. The water was nearly smooth as glass, and paddling was smooth. The views, along the coast and below water, made for a relaxing trip.
Just before rounding the point to the park I spotted a few medium-sized fish off my bow as I passed through some seaweed. Once around the point is was all sand-bottom and nice cruising. While the water looks rather shallow, the area with the sandy bottom is probably about 10 meters deep. I love cruising over these areas, as it feels as if you are flying low over a desert, or a lunar landscape. Which reminds me that I did not add music to the video. That was intentional, as the near-silence of paddling is one of my favourite aspects of the sport. I hope you enjoyed it as well…
Another beautiful day in Shimane… I decided to take the bike out today to seek out a nice spot to drop-in with the new stand-up paddle board. While I know of a few places already, I was hoping to find something new. I spent the day riding along the coast, following some of the same roads as from the Winter Seaside Ride post.
I came across fishermen, a couple of scuba divers taking a lunch break, and some surfers as well. I ended up finding a great spot just the other side of the “意味ない橋” (Meaningless Bridge), or the Marine Bridge, as they actually call it. There is a nice little protected cove, behind a tetrapod barrier, perfect for launching from. It gives access to a few small islands, which are perfect for fishing, as well as a nice starting point for a trip beneath the bridge. It seems like commercial traffic may be something to consider, but I can’t wait to strap the SUP to the back of the bike and paddle out do do a lap of the islands.
A few route plans
It looks like I can do a few nice routes from this launch point. There are three islands; Majima, Yanajima, and Setogashima, which is the island the launch point is on. A lap around Setogashima would be nice safe option, as there are no potential crossings of commercial traffic from the port. Yanajima is the next safest, being the smaller of the two other islands. I guess I will just have to get out there and see how it goes sometime soon.
I think a sunset paddle would be fantastic in this area…
While I was in Hawaii for work in Feb/March, I ended up purchasing a new stand-up paddle board. It was not a big surprise, as I have been considering purchasing one for quite a while now. I had been looking into a relatively cheap Japanese inflatable SUP for a while, but while I was in Oahu I ended up stopping by Blue Planet and renting some of their inflatables to test them out.
The staff was fantastic, and the boards were pretty great as well. I ended up humping a new 12’6″ inflatable touring board home with me. I promised them pictures from the first time I took it out on the Japan Sea, so here the are.
While it was a bit colder than Waikiki, I braved the chilly waters and took the board out for its first venture into the Japan Sea. While one would think that “water is water” and “a beach is a beach”, it definitely seemed different to be paddling in Japan. The water seemed a bit choppier, and I was a bit less willing to fall in. (You may have guessed this from my obviously hacked together outfit, as rarely do you see a surfer in a vest…)
All things considered, my first venture into the Japan Sea went well. Yes, it was a bit cold, and I obviously need to look into better cold-weather paddling gear, but it was fun, and that is all that matters for now. The board was baptised in Waikiki waters before I brought it home, but now it has tasted the Japan Sea, and I think we are both thirsty for more. I am really looking forward to touring the Shimane coast on my new paddle board in the near future.
It is nice when you can combine hobbies in a way that they are mutually beneficial. I love that joining the boxing gym gives me an excuse to ride the bike, and I love that having an excuse to ride the bike motivates me to go to boxing.
This is a winter ride, so the ‘greens’ are all brown, but the roads are the same shape all year. The ride there was fairly straight, as if followed the coast. Some nice beach views that way. The ride home, however, was rather twisty. I took the Green Line from Gotsu to Kanagi, which is a fantastic ride. Half way through I took a detour down the windmill maintenance roads, which are always fun.
One of the great things about living in West Nowhere, Japan (sometimes referred to as ‘Shimane’), is that you can ride year-round. While we do get snow on occasion, it quickly melts along the coast, so the coastal routes are generally clear. I actually toured down to Fukuoka a few years back on New Year’s Day, so as long as you have the right gear riding is a full-time gig out this way.
So, taking advantage of a rather dry and sunny day, I decided to take the bike out for a nice winter seaside tour in Hamada.
As you may notice, Hamada has a bit of a small fishing town feel to it. While we do have a large commercial port, the local fishing trade came first. The coast is peppered with small fishing villages, and the rocky cliffs and beautiful beaches make for nice views along the way.
Really, you should try a winter ride in Hamada some day…
As today was the Autumnal Equinox, and a national holiday, I decided to take the bike out for a ride. I had just ridden the bike about 100 km back from the shop last night after having new tires installed, but they were all highway miles, and the shoes needed to get some gentle initial wear on the edges. So I thought it would be a great chance to head out to the Shimane Green Line for a slow winding ride.
Shimane Green Line
Route 50 Intersection in Arifuku
Harvested rice hanging to dry
The Green Line is a nice meandering road through the mountains and of Shimane. I assume it gets its name from the virgin surroundings, as while the road is well built, and rather fun to ride, the areas it passes through are not very developed. It is a road that I have ridden many times, and greatly enjoyed. However, I think that I have only explored a bit of it as it seems to extend beyond where I usually join it.
The path I usually take is from the entrance to Mimata Onsen (A), where we used to live a few years back, through the mountains to route 9 in Gotsu (B). View Larger Map
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I just had new shoes put on the bike, so today was all about taking it easy. It was a good thing too, as it seems that the clean up work on the Green Line after the last few typhoons seems a bit behind schedule. While I was able to take some photos (below) of a number of the partially closed off sections of the road, there were a number of other hazards that I did not capture. The first actually caught me by surprise, and if I hadn’t been taking it easy on the new tires it may have spelled trouble. It was the largest landslide I encountered, and it was right around a tight, and blind, corner. It was a good reminder to take it easy, so I simply slowed down and appreciated the full greens of the surroundings while seeking out the signs of autumn in the leaves.
Windmill in the distance
About three quarters of the way through this section of the Shimane Green Line, alongside Mt. Koyasan, I came upon one of my favorite roads in Shimane. This particular road is barely over three kilometers in length, but I have certainly taken more photos here than anywhere else along the route. This is the maintenance road for the windmills overlooking Gotsu.
Looking to the north
NC700X and a windmill
The views from up here, especially at sunset, can be rather stunning. I love to come up to this road and just ride slowly and take in the quiet and the views. As it is only a maintenance road, there is never anybody else there. It is the perfect spot to break out the camp stove and brew up a fresh cup of coffee. (I think I just gave myself a great idea!)
While I have traveled this section of the Shimane Green Line more times than I can recall, I also passed through another section in Asahi earlier today, and I think there must be more. I look forward to following the Asahi section back in the other direction to find out just how many other sections of the Shimane Green Line I can discover before the snows start to fall…