The abundance of fish, the potential of the waters
Kochi is synonymous with everyone’s favorite katsuo, or skipjack tuna. It lives up to its reputation as a fish lover’s paradise thanks to the 713-kilometer-long coastline and the fertile fishing grounds created by the Kuroshio Current. In Japan, they say the farther west you go, the better your chances of catching big fish. Friends in Kochi City are happy to take the three-and-half-hour drive southwest to the town of Otsuki, boasts Shotaro Oka. The 27-year-old “fishing farmer” goes fishing every day in the family boat handed down from his grandfather. His family business at Coral Fruit Otsuki Farm grows flavorsome citrus fruits using environment-friendly agricultural methods. The shiny Konatsu citrus he brought as a gift tasted incredibly fresh.
One of our missions on this trip was to discover local food ingredients and have them transformed into delectable meals by nomadic cook Nao Mikami. Sourcing food from the ocean is the role of professional angler Ayana Ishikawa, aka Bun-chan, who has been fishing for 25 years since her childhood. Early in the morning, we met at Komame Fishing Port, on the Otsuki Peninsula projecting into the Pacific Ocean. The sun peeking out in the distance lit up the sky in a medley of beautiful hues. Five minutes after we boarded Shotaro’s boat, we arrived at a fishing spot. This area falls within Ashizuri–Uwakai National Park, recognizable for the continuous precipitous cliffs along the coast. With the wild seascape in the background, we dropped a line in the water. Here, we used the jigging technique, where we make a long cast, sink the lure, and then retrieve it using rhythmical vertical motions. After a while, Shotaro got the first bite of the day. It was a lizardfish, usually considered a bycatch, or untargeted catch. Bun-chan also caught a lizardfish, followed by welcome spiny red gurnard and yellowtail. This was enough for Bun-chan, who catches only what she plans to eat. Her eyes were sparkling. The fish don’t remember being caught, meaning they are more willing to bite. She felt the potential of Kochi’s waters. What is Shotaro’s largest catch to date? His answer was a cut above: a whale. It blew a jet of spray, circled the boat, and passed underneath. That was only five minutes away from the port. Talk about fertile waters!