Okinawa’s ‘Big Ones’ are awaiting offshore

“Even a bad day’s catch off Okinawa is usually the best day for most anglers,” according to Ed Winslow of the Charter Company Salty Rods.

Whether you enjoy line fishing, spearfishing or deep-sea charter boat fishing, Okinawa has a vast amount of fish in its waters, and so many of them are delicious.

Many people don’t realize what kinds of opportunities there are for easy fishing in Okinawa. You can drive down to the ocean, grab your spear and snorkel, catch dinner and be in and out of the water in 10 minutes. Although this type of situation is a fisherman’s best-case scenario, this is more truth than baloney when fishing in Okinawa.

Robert Colomb shows off a pair of “Muru.”

Line fishing is one of the most common ways to fish.  “A tetra pod is an Okinawan fisherman’s best friend”, says avid fisherman Sean Cairns. He goes on to advise, “Line fishing in Okinawa is easy when you can cast out into deep water, but you should know your tides because you can easily snag your line on the reef on low tide”. Tide booklets can be found at any major fishing shop along route 58 or by checking online.  The best fishing is done at a higher tide as the fish come to feed closer to shore. Any type of full moon or even an approaching weather front can affect the activity of the fish. Fishermen have a close relationship with the ocean after years of fishing and can sense the better conditions for fishing by just gazing at the ocean. Sean Cairns reveals his biggest secret for fishing on Okinawa telling us, “Live bait is the best possible bait in Okinawa”.

Another type of fishing in Okinawa is spearfishing. There are two types of spears that can be used in Okinawa; a pole spear or a spear gun.  The most common pole spear can be bought off base but is usually short and useless. The best type of pole spear is about 6-8 feet long with a three-pronged tip. This type of pole spear is incredibly good at catching fish close to shore.

Another catch for dinner table.

The more remote of a place that you snorkel and fish, the easier it is to catch fish as the fish become more evasive in heavily fished areas. At night, pole fishing is like an all you can eat fish buffet as the fish are sleeping under rocks and are easy targets. A word of warning; fitting the pole with any kind of rubber sling – so called Hawaiian sling – makes it illegal. Only arm power is permitted.

The other type of spear is a spear gun with a trigger. Unfortunately, any spear gun is illegal to use in Okinawa without a fishing permit. Although you can buy a spear gun at any fishing shop, the minute you use it in the water for fishing is when it becomes illegal to use without a permit, and permits are reserved to professional fishermen only and who are members of the local fishermen’s association. Being caught using a spear gun will result in hefty fines and confiscation of your gear, including even the car you used to drive to the shore.

The third type of Okinawan fishing is the most rewarding as you can catch massive fish in a short period of time. Deep-sea fishing on a charter boat can be booked and fisherman can motor out far off the shores of Okinawa where the big fish swim. Ed Winslow from the Charter Company Salty Rods says, “We have yet to come back empty-handed on a charter tour.  Even a bad day is usually the best day for any of our guests that we take out; it’s pretty much a fisherman’s dream”. Most tours can be booked for any available weekend and leave bright and early to get a head start on the fish.

If you have taste for fresh sashimi or just enjoy being outdoors, Okinawa is a great place to live, especially if your hobby is fishing. The water is blue, warm and inviting, akin to a tropical paradise island with all the amenities a person could need and, especially, lots of fish to eat.