Fishing derby turns base swimming pool into rainbow trout hot spot in western Tokyo
Stars and Stripes April 18, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A splash erupted from the Sakana Outdoor Pool at 9:20 a.m. Saturday as Nicholas Trans, a contractor’s spouse from California, hauled in the first trout of the day at this air base in western Tokyo.
Rain most of the day left anglers at the first Sakana Trout Fishing Derby as wet as their quarry, but with hopes for full creels undimmed.
The fishing derby kicked off several events that the Yokota Outdoor Recreation office scheduled in celebration of Earth Week, which runs through Saturday.
The pool was stocked with 400 rainbow trout from the Okutama Fishing Center in nearby Ome, Jason Fay, aquatics director of the Yokota Natatorium, told Stars and Stripes on April 11.
The fishing center is a popular spot behind a dam in the Tama River and one of the largest areas in Tokyo for freshwater fishing, according to the center’s website.
The derby attracted about 100 people, despite the damp skies and gloomy forecast.
“It's a good way for families to come out,” said program coordinator Martin Trost. “It’s a way to bring the community together.”
Trans collected a fishing rod as a prize for landing the first trout, about a foot long.
“I've been fishing my whole life, since I was a kid with my father,” said Trans, of San Jose, Calif. “I think this is a really good time to bond with family and it's been just a really good experience. This was a really close hobby of mine with my father and so I wanted to pass it on to my kids.”
Trans caught his fish on hot dogs, the bait made available by the staff for the event. He caught six fish within the first hour of the derby.
“We knew it was going to rain, but we decided to still do it,” he said. “It wasn’t going to stop us. We just put on some extra gear, and we are still having a great time.”
Trans said his family plans on eating all the fish they caught. Anglers were allowed to catch two fish per family member and were required to keep their catch.
Some commenters expressed concern on the Yokota Natatorium Facebook page that pool chemicals would harm the fish. Outdoor Recreation, a division of the Force Support Squadron at Yokota, took two years to plan the event, Fay said.
“We turn off the chemicals right after the summer closes,” he said. “Since last summer up until now, there's been no chemicals being fed into the pool. We've tested it beforehand, made sure that there's no residual chemicals in there.”