Japanese Man Travels Thousands Of Miles To Snag Oklahoma Spoonbill

Monday, November 4th 2019, 7:23 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

A Japanese man traveled thousands of miles to fish in Oklahoma for two days. He came to Grand Lake to snag the prehistoric paddlefish known as the "spoonbill."

Dealing with a 15-hour time difference from home might mean a nap for some, but Yoji Nabeta was wide awake, waiting for a spoonbill to come above the surface after getting snagged on a hook.

"This lake is beautiful and, so, good place for fishing, I think,” Nabeta said.

Nabeta has gone fishing all over the world. He was recently in Thailand and is heading to Canada next.

He has the simplest of reasons for why he loves to go fishing.

"Because I love fish,” he said.

Nabeta said he learned about the spoonbill on the Internet. He held one for the first time on Sunday. With each spoonbill that comes on board, Nabeta snaps a few photos.  It's a hobby, he said, to take pictures for a magazine in Japan called “Salt and Stream.”

"Almost all Japanese do not know spoonbill. So that's why I just want to introduce that fish to Japanese,” he said.

More than 6,000 miles away from Grand Lake, Nabeta calls Tokyo home. Being out on the water at Grand Lake is his first Oklahoma experience.

He's not alone. Fishing guide Rusty Pritchard said the spoonbill are snagging the attention of others worldwide.

"We had a lady from Germany two years ago. We had a guy from Australia last year," Pritchard said.

He has watched the prehistoric fish gain popularity and said ten years ago, he never saw anyone out at Grand Lake going after them.

After just two days in Oklahoma, Nabeta said he'll be back.

"My target size is bigger,” Nabeta said.

Pritchard said he usually starts taking people out spoonbill snagging after the water gets colder, which is typically after Thanksgiving. He said Grand Lake has the largest population of spoonbill compared to any other lakes in the United States.