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July-September 1998

Lure Fishing

Fishing for sport in Japan has usually meant using live bait. But over the past few years, a new technique that was introduced from the West has been enjoying a quiet boom--and not just with adults but also with kids, mainly boys in elementary or middle school. Lures that are made to look like worms, small fish, and other live bait are used to trick the fish into thinking it's the real thing.

For the most part, you use lures to catch black bass, a fish that lives in rivers and lakes. Being predatory fish with a big appetite, black bass are perfect for lure fishing. These fish aren't native to Japan, though; they were first brought over by a Japanese lure fishing fan from the United States in 1925 so he could enjoy the sport here. Now black bass are found in rivers and lakes throughout the country and grow to about 50 centimeters (20 inches) long. Although the fish have tasty white meat, most people don't eat them; they release the fish after catching them. In other words, people catch black bass for pure sport.

Around 20 million people in Japan enjoy fishing as a hobby (including both lure fishing and other fishing methods), according to a Japanese government report on leisure activities. As a pastime that both adults and kids enjoy, fishing can encourage families to spend more time together and improve communication between parents and children. But you have to be careful not to injure other people with fishhooks. In lure fishing you need long lines, which have to be cast again and again so that lures look like they're actually moving. With the fishing population on the rise, younger kids, especially, are being taught to be more careful in order to prevent accidents.

Photo: Kids hoping for a big catch (Asahi Shogakusei Shimbun)