Sorry for the wait. That is what I murmured as I held my breath and opened the garbage can to dispose of my overflowing trash bag. It was one of those long days – I know everyone has them. One of those days where you craved a juicy American cheeseburger and you are handed a bowl of rice, seaweed, and tuna. Anyway, the trash had to go and so did my attitude. Have you ever seen something in the craziest places that caught you by the hook, literally? Well, that is how my day went. I imagine myself in the world’s strongest man competition as I lift the trash bag over my head to slam it down into the bin. Out of the corner of my eye, a blue sparkle catches my attention. I quickly put the competition on hold (which, of course, I was winning), and reach down to investigate my new-found trash treasure. A fishing pole! Minus the rust, bent frame, and missing one part… it was in pretty good shape! I immediately remove it from its sad state and decide to put it to good use. After a few touch ups and some tinkering, my new blue steel was ready to hit the waters. My day hit a RedBull Energy boost. It went from long and uneventful to poppin’ real quick. I hopped on my bike, Moma Cherry, and headed to the closest river that fed into the mouth of Beppu Bay Ocean. I had a ham sandwich in one hand and a fishing pole strapped to the back of the bike. I was put in a precarious position trying to manage eating while not getting hooked. With my pole flailing on every bump, I eventually make it to my first destination. It was a short distance from the ocean in about a 2-foot deep river. Suddenly, four black, long figures swim right past me. It was a dream come true! Without hesitation, I load my hook up with my leftover ham sandwich and begin chasing these 4 rascals up and down the river. You’re probably thinking… ‘you see your fish and their location at all times, it can’t be that hard?’ Well it was! I chased these smart fish for forty minutes, dangling the nicest bite of sandwich I could find right in front of their noses (if they have them). I know my homemade sandy wasn’t of the finest quality, but it was worth them taking a peck to try it out! I soon got frustrated and left. I hate to think that those fish outsmarted me – I believe they had just eaten a fillet mignon meal and were completely full. Yet, I’m a competitor and it kills me to give up, so I head out on Moma Cherry in search of my next river. Before long, I stumble upon THE SPOT. My jaw hit the ground when I looked into the river and saw hundreds of fish swimming in circles all around me. It was like Jesus had fed the 5,000 and dumped all the leftover fish at my feet. This was my spot. This is where I will become a true angler. This is where my manhood was going to shine. I was already thinking of the nice Instagram post of my 15 huge fish and me! I could see schools of big fish, little fish, yellow fish, black fish, skinny fish, fat fish, and every fish you could think of swimming below me. Soon my big moment came. The hook was loaded with a scrumptious bite. A school of huge fish just swam out of the opening of the ocean and down my little river. I begin to prepare myself to reel one in. The timing was perfect. Here it goes…. I lean back to make the cast of the century directly in the middle of the school and let it fly! Clank zzzzzzz…… my garbage can fishing pole seems to have malfunctioned, and the hook doesn’t fly. Even worse… It swings around and hits me in my leg, snagging onto my pants! I envisioned catching something, just not my pants. Embarrassed, I quickly look around to make sure there was no one around me. I was so embarrassed I even wanted to hide from the school of fish that swam right on past me. After my pants had had their full share of lunchmeat, I begin my fishing once again. Cast after cast. Big fish after big fish swim right past my lunch, not giving it the time of day. The hour felt like it was on repeat:
- I’d cast out.
- About fifty huge fish would swim past my hook.
- As soon as they were gone, a little fish would swim up and eat my lunch without coming close to touching the hook.
- Drew gets angry.
- Repeats process.
This went on and on. Until then… I was on step number three when everything changed. My little thief fish got too cocky and decided he could rob the bank in one bite instead of using his previous nibbles. It was then that I caught my first fish in Japan. Small or not, I was still ecstatic and begin reeling in my trophy. Suddenly, the closer it got to me, the bigger my trophy became. It seemed like with each reel, my thief grew an inch. Was I hallucinating??? Maybe I should have eaten my whole sandwich after all. As my hook gets closer, my fish looks as if I had merely caught a decorated water balloon. Then it hit me. PUFFER FISH! Aren’t they poisonous? [As a side note: To humans, the poison in the puffer fish is deadly, up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. There is enough toxin in one puffer fish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote. Crazily, the meat of some puffer fish is considered a delicacy. Called fugu in Japan, it is quite expensive and only prepared by trained, licensed chefs who know that one bad cut means almost certain death for a customer. In fact, many such deaths occur annually.] By now my water balloon is inflating and deflating at my feet, showing his prickly cactus spikes on every puff. After I run around doing my, “I caught a puffer fish” dance, reality sets in. How am I going to get this prickly balloon off my hook?! Being from the South in the USA, my country cowboy side showed itself this day. I begin lassoing my prickly puffer fish above my head as if I were about to catch some cattle-fish below me. This motion continues for a couple minutes. I look like a little kid too excited to get his balloon after a dinner at Red Robin. Thankfully, my tactic eventually pulls through…. I survive. And so does my little water balloon as he swims off to join his thief friends once again. Never trust a fish.