Stokes: Samurai found way to stay sharp while finding food

rodcrafter@islc.netDecember 8, 2013 

More than 400 years ago, the Japanese developed a style of fishing called Ayu. While the basics of modern day fly fishing are similar, their approach to the sport had a unique beginning.

During the Edo period, between 1603 and 1867, and ending with the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Samurai were forbidden to practice martial arts or sword fighting in any form. However, the nature of the people, being highly skilled to improvise and the manner of the Samurai who wished to remain true to their culture, provided an alternative. In itself, the Ayu style is a defined method of fishing that employed the use of long fishing staffs, some of them in the range of 12 to 15 feet. The samurai attached a type of dressed cloth or feathered lure tied around a bent sewing needle.

Employing their love of fishing with the grace and refined finesse of their art, the samurai found fishing to be a good substitute for their training. The fishing rod served as a substitute for the sword, and moving among slippery rocks of stream beds gave them practice for strength and balance.

The ayu fish is a delicately flavored marine sweetfish found in East Asia. The fish is about 1 foot long and similar to a small trout. Ayu are highly territorial and will attack any fish entering the territory. It is this predictable defensive behavior that the samurai chose to exploit.


With cooling temperatures, a good many species have become more active. Among the most popular now are trout and spottail bass.

While inshore fishing has shown a marked improvement over the last week, offshore fishing continues to mystify the average, confound the experienced and befuddle the veteran. Which is to say, the fish are there -- it's just that finding the right bait and being at the right spot are critical.

Spottail are tightly schooled and holding over soft mud bottoms close to active oyster banks. Trout have moved just inside the grass close to larger feeder creeks and just out from the mouth of larger points. Sheepshead are right up against bridge and pier pilings, and a few larger species can be found along rock formations of shallow water.

Among the other species that have been tempered with fluctuating water and weather are black drum, croaker, whiting, spot and a few smaller shark that are still active.

Baits of choice include mullet, minnows, a variety of artificial screw tail lures, and jigs in green, white/red and chartreuse. The screw or ribbon tail soft-body jigs have gained popularity among anglers during cooler days on the water.


Approximately 100,000 red drum will be released into the Chechessee River on Dec. 10. The stocking will take place at 1 p.m. at the Edgar C. Glenn boat landing on State Road 170 next to the planned Port Royal Sound Maritime Center.

"Stocking is a powerful scientific tool helping us to understand and offset poor natural production," says Dr. Mike Denson, who directs saltwater research programs at the Department of Natural Resources.

It should be noted that funds contributed to the Waddell Mariculture Center helped to provide the equipment used for this worthwhile cause.


The 15th annual Fripp Island Thanksgiving Kids' Fishing Tournament was held Nov. 19, with more than 100 children participating. The top finishers:

Red Drum -- 1. Jack Hendrex, 5.14 pounds; 2. Lydia Lupo, 5 pounds; 3. Grace Shaver, 3.8 pounds

Speckle Trout -- 1. Justin Reyes, 4.4 pounds; 2. Cole Mackey, 3.1 pounds; 3. Taylor Hope 1.2 pounds

Flounder -- 1. Peter Birozzes, 3.1 pounds; 2. Pope Arline, 1.4 pounds; 3. Riley Hall, 1.14 pounds

Black Drum -- 1. Harrison Hall, 11.12 pounds; 2. Max Flynn, 10.12 pounds; 3. Anthony Birozzes, 10.8 pounds

Other Fish -- 1. Ray Spann, 11.10 pounds (sheepshead); 2. Sam Graham, 3.60 pounds (croaker); 3. Nick Smith, 3.4 pounds (croaker)

TACKLE TIP: Structure and Current

When fishing around hard structure such as pier and bridge pilings, rocks, and shouldered oyster beds, it is essential to use the current. With a swift tide, most predator fish will look for stragglers that have been forced from the structure by another fish or moved by the current. Drop your offering right up against the structure or allow it to drift into the area. Your presentation will appear more natural for even the most skittish of species.

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