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Conger Eel Fishing, Yoshiyuki Saida – Fishing in Tokyo Bay

Conger Eel Fishing, Yoshiyuki Saida
- Fishing in Tokyo Bay

Yokohama Fishermen’s Union Shiba Branch
397 Shiba-cho, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture

Tokyo Bay at sunrise

Nakata goes on board a fishing boat just as the sun rises in Tokyo Bay. When we requested an interview with Yoshiyuki Saida, a conger eel fisherman belonging to Yokohama Fishermen’s Union Shiba Branch, he invited us to go fishing with him. Saida employs a method called ”tsusu-ryo” to catch the eels. He inserts feed such as sardines and squid into a grey tube then sinks them to the bottom of the ocean, and the eels are drawn to the smell of the feed. On the boat, Nakata helped pull the tubes up from the ocean.
In order to preserve the environment, the fishing gear have small holes in them to avoid catching the smaller eels. A surprising number of eels are caught even with the holes.
”How do you choose where to set the traps?” Nakata asked a basic question.
”I check the size and the number of eels caught and plan the next location. I make a prediction based on everyday experience,” Saida told us.
By the time they have retrieved all the traps, the sun had risen high up in the sky.

The appeal of being a fishermen

”What do you like about being a fisherman?” asked Nakata. ”I’m the most excited when I catch fish where I set the trap based on my experience.” ”There are times I don’t catch any fish at all, and it feels like failing a test. But I like the ocean, so just being on the boat makes me happy. That’s what I like the most.” he told us as he looked out to the sea.
Saida was born in a fishing town where he grew up around boats. He would ride a small motorboat and race with friends. At any rate, he grew up surrounded by the ocean.
”Even if you run into problems and get stuck out at sea, people all come to your rescue because they all grew up around the same harbor.”

Hot and fluffy ”shiroyaki”

As soon as they go ashore, ”We’ll get these eels grilled into a ’shiroyaki’ right away,” Saida said as he cut the eel. The skin glistens golden and the meat is beautifully white. He handed the meat to Nakata. ”It’s soft!” Nakata is surprised. Freshly cut eel is soft. According to Saida, eel from Tokyo Bay is especially soft.
We immediately have the eel grilled into ”shiroyaki” and took a bite. The eel fresh from the grill was hot and fluffy. ”The texture is entirely different from fresh water eel but it’s still very good,” commented Nakata looking quite satisfied.
Saida’s eels are served at NPO ”Community Cafe Sakura Chaya” and other local eateries, and are served as ”shiroyaki” or ”anago-don.” We highly recommend you give Tokyo Bay conger eel dishes a try.


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