TackleTour in the JDM - Lake Biwa, Japan
||Reels, Rods, Lures
||Megabass of America
||Lake Biwa, Japan
Introduction: Lake Biwa is the largest natural lake in Japan. Estimated at two million years of age, it is one of less than twenty (20) ancient lakes in the world. With a surface area of over 165,760 acres, Biwa is the approximate size of Lake Mead (157,900 surface acres) and Lake Powell (160,800 surface acres) in the United States. By comparison, Clear Lake, CA is only 43,785 acres, Lake Ouachita, AR 40,000 acres, Lake Amistad, TX 65,000 acres, and Lake Tahoe, CA 122,240 acres.
Lake Biwa is one of less than 20 "Ancient" lakes in the world.
It is estimated to be over two million years old.
It's a little unclear when Largemouth bass were introduced in the lake, but they were first found in the mid 1970s with numbers increasing rapidly in the 1980s. These bass are a hybrid northern and
Florida strain and together with bluegill (first found in 1965) are considered the most threatening non-native species in the lake. Programs to eliminate these non-native (or alien) species have been in effect since 1985 with the ultimate goal of returning Lake Biwa to a state where only native species are thriving.
Native fish such as Biwako-Ayu and Wakasagi are farmed in pens like this.
A native bird of prey, the Tombei, can be seen soaring all around.
Some of these native species include the Biwako-Ayu (a species of ayu only found in Lake Biwa), Honmoroko (a type of minnow sought for grilling), Gengorobuna (Japanese carp whose name relates to a famous local legend), Biwamasu (a species of salmon sought for its lean, tasty meat), Biwako-Ohnamazu (a giant catfish that can grow to over 300 pounds).
There are over 235 Kilometers of shoreline around Lake Biwa.
It's a little difficult to see, but each of those black dots along the horizon are bass boats. Lake Biwa gets an incredible amount of pressure, yet compared to other smaller lakes in Japan, the pressure here is nothing.
As you might imagine, despite the fish's official status as an alien species, sport fishing for largemouth bass on Biwa is a very popular event. Ironically, given Biwa's size, the great majority of this sport fishing for largemouth bass takes place in the southern area of this lake that is approximately 10 miles long by about 3 miles wide (Biwa is approximately 40 miles long by 14 miles wide). This area is separated from the main lake by the famous bridge where Manuba Kurita caught his world record tying 22 pound, 4.97 ounce bass on July 2, 2009.
Float tubes are very popular out here.
Ever consider donning your waders and wading the shoreline for bass? A lot of fishermen do just that here on Biwa.
It is in this area, off the shores of Biwakorakuen Hotel Izutsu in Shimosakamoto, a town in the Otsu region, where our first opportunity to walk along the shores of Lake Biwa took place. We accompanied professional bass fisherman and Megabass of America staffers, Luke Clausen, Edwin Evers, Aaron Martens, and Chris Zaldain as they set out on the water to test several prototype products in development by Megabass as well as give Japanese media giants, Lure, Basser, and Bassworld magazines the opportunity to share the water with these famous American bass pros.
The Biwakorakuen Hotel Izutsu in Shimosakamoto, a town in the Otsu region served as home base for our visit to Lake Biwa.
Edwin Evers headed out over Biwa.
Normally in November, the bass bite on Biwa is very good. Crankbaits are the hot bite this time of year, but in the weeks leading up to our visit, the weather was very unsettled and the local guides were advising that the normal fall bite was off - probably delayed a month due to the unsettled weather.
The bite was slow, but cranking was the key.
Initially, news of a slow bite did not deter the US bass pros as they're accustomed to adverse conditions, but due to a very aggressive agenda set forth by the factory for promotions, media events, and prototype testing, they didn't get a chance to fish the lake as thoroughly as they might have liked. Moreover, due to local customs and rules as they apply to fishing with a guide, the pros were not allowed to drive the boats and search for other areas that might hold bass. Instead they were limited to the areas their guides took them to and to techniques that applied to the type of structure they were fishing. It was almost like taking an enthusiast to a legendary tackle store and only allowing them to shop in one aisle.
Megabass DeepX 300 was the "secret" bait on this trip.
The wind picked up around 9:30am each morning.
As it turned out, crankbaits were still the order of the day, and the bait of choice was the Megabass DeepX 300. The key was to cast the bait out over the shallow, offshore flats in search of weedlines, allow the bait to catch in the weeds, and instead of popping it out, give a good steady pull until the bait released and wham! That's when the fish would hit.
But the bite remained the same. Another Biwa chunk on the DeepX 300.
In this area of Lake Biwa, the depth varied from one and a half meters to a little over four meters. Weeds were present throughout and every bass boat on the lake was fishing these off shore weeds. There were other baits being thrown including umbrella rigs, lipless cranks, and soft plastics, and a little topwater, but the only bait that seemed to produce, was a crank fished in the manner in which we described above.
Media person, interpreter, Bass Pro, Bass Guide... four to a boat was the norm and that made it difficult to get into a fishing groove.
Understanding the goals of this trip, to give the factory a chance to work hand in hand with their pros and to allow Japanese publications Lure, Basser, and Bassworld rare access to these four pros on Biwa, we took a step back from the events on hand and instead sat down with each pro to discuss a hypothetical scenario.
Aaron Martens thinking about the world record that was caught right near that bridge that's behind him.