Spyda's Blog

A Hawaiian Style Fishing Blog

Browsing Posts tagged Dean Honma

Three old Japanese men from Hawaii and two haoles drifting down a northern California river in rubber rafts. Hmmm, what is this?

We’d been fishing in murky water since we arrived a few days prior, so on this day we were stepping in a few miles down river. I’m looking down into clear water as Herb tries to convince us that we shouldn’t worry about the class 5 and 6 rapids down river. While he’s not kidding about the rapids, they’re actually just down river from where we plan to end our drift, hopefully they’ll remember where to stop…

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Escape, has brought us here. The details may be different, but, ties to our urban lives keep the fires called escape alive. We’ve all known each other for a long time and while the paths of our lives have taken each of us down different roads. Somehow, these roads have brought us back together and led us here to this river.

You can feel the “aahhh” with each breath, a light breeze pulls the chill off the water to cool us as we slowly drift down river. It’s a unique feeling, that of being drained of urban stress and energized at the same time. Every turn in the river brings another “magazine shot” into view. We’re on the Trinity, classic fly water, as good as it gets!

Drifting, a style of navigating trout streams where a drift boat or rafts like we’re in use the current of the stream or river to move us down in search of fish. A pair of oars controls the speed when necessary or guide us to spots in the stream where we can jump out to wade and cast to rising fish. Dean’s riding with Herb, while Daniel and I are with Kit. Herb is hands down the best guide on the Trinity and among the very best in the entire region, but, today, Herb is insisting that Kit is the better, he’ll certainly have his hands full with me and Dan today!

I watched Dean catch and release a beautiful wild Steelhead on a dry a couple of years ago and getting my first steelhead has been on my mind ever since. I don’t have any delusions of busting multiple trophy sized steelhead on dry flies today. I just want to get one, nymphing, wooly bugger, what ever, I don’t care.

Kit pushes us off and jumps in, Herb and Dean will give us a few minutes before setting off behind us. A hundred maybe one fifty down stream we come up on a little funnel that’s pushing the water to the right accelerating the flow, creating a fast lane that catches Kits eye. We pull up on the left bank and jump in. He ties us on some nymphs and calls out how he wants each of us to play the section he’s put us at. Before long Daniel gets a bender and lands a little Bow to get us going! Aahhh yea!!…..you feel that?

We work a few more sections trying different things, not much happening so we jump back aboard and slide on down a bit.

We’re alone on the river, the canyon walls and trees keep civilization far away. The echo off the walls allow Kit and Herb to keep in touch. A few whistles and shouts when needed, are used to keep each other abreast of any action going on even while out of sight around a bend. Their knowledge of the river, their craft and each other allow them to communicate most things with a whistle or a few key words. I don’t think it’s something either has ever consciously thought about, fishermen just talk fishing a lot, so much so you get to that point of familiarization that phonetic or grammatically correct sentences are not really necessary.

We’ve swung around a bend on to a wide, straight section of the river.  Kit sees a rise way down ahead of us, a shrill whistle back up stream lets Herb know. They refer to this stretch as the “football field”. Kit pulls us over to the bank just ahead of a little feeder steam that’s pushing through just enough energy to create a few lanes in the flow down river where we saw the rise. A couple of drys get tied on our lines and Kit directs us into spots where we can cast into the lanes where fish are rising. I get a little scolding from Kit for trying to cast too far! I guess it’s the Hawaiian shorecasters mentality kicking in, I can’t help myself! (I actually think that Kit and I were looking at different fish!) Anyways, I eventually get with the program and dial it back to “delicate” and drop my fly in the correct lane. I’ve always believed that some people learn and see things differently and feel like I’m one of those. Kit keeps on us and things are finally beginning to click for me.

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It’s a little blurry as far as who took the first fish at the football field, but, we all did manage to take some Steelies. Daniel and I got our first ever! After a break for lunch on the bank we work the football field a little longer before moving on down stream.

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As we drift along, Kit suddenly swings his head around! “Hear that?” he says, Daniel and I are clueless. “I heard a fish rise behind us!” says Kit who starts paddling madly back up stream. So, he heard a rise, but, not just behind the raft we’re talking 50 yards behind us!!

The section is narrowed by a gravel bank pushing out from the left. Kit jumps out and tells us to stay in the raft, he’s our anchor holding us against the current with the back side of the raft against the gravel bank. There’s a tiny feeder coming off the opposite bank that’s pushing pretty firmly into a deep pool. Kit tells me to cast just upstream of the joint on the top of the riffle. “Feed it, Feed IT, FEED IT!” I’m frantically waving the tip of my rod while stripping line trying to keep the drift drag free! The fly stays dry and drag free, but, no take. “Pick it up and toss it a little higher and closer to the bank”. I make another cast and somehow manage to drop it right in the slot and start feeding line madly again. This time we get a pop and fish on! It makes a short, hard run down stream with the current so feels like a good fish. Not quite a beast , but, enough to put up a good fight on 5x.

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Dean and Herb slide on downstream ahead of us and find a shady riffle that produces another healthy steelie for Dean.

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It was a fun day, on some gorgeous water, we’ll be back……

(This trip back in April of 2015, it’s taken me a while to get this up here! Now I need to start work on our trip two weeks ago…..)

“You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She’s not perfect – you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break – her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyze and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.”   ―     Bob Marley

Northern California, off I-5 through Redding another 20 to 30 minutes will get you to the town of Lewiston in Trinity County. With a population of just over a thousand in 20 square miles, life is slow and easy. We’re back again to see what fresh water fishing adventures we can find. We’re towing Deans 13′ whaler behind us and hauling along our trout and bass dreams. Those of ulua and oio are stashed away for now. When the elixir flows after dinner they’ll surface along with the debates we’ve repeated for the last thirty plus years of our lives. We can’t help it, it’s what fishermen do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen years ago I came up here with Dean for what we were calling at the time “My last hurrah!” I was getting married in a month and it appeared my days of packing a duffel and rod case to disappear for a week or so were going to be lot less frequent, if they happened at all…

Magical, is the only way I can describe that trip. We caught fish everywhere we stopped. Strictly fly-fishing mind you, as much as I love the style I’ve never been a prolific fly caster by anyone’s standards. So to catch fish at each stop, river mouth, little stream, fast water, slow lazy water, it was beyond what I could have ever realistically hoped for! Was this a sign? If so, what did it mean?

This trip we fought a headwind all the way up the coast, it wasn’t until we turned into Redding and headed west towards Trinity that we got into more normal air. Redding is a typical rural Californian town, for us fishermen though, you can’t ignore the river as you pass through. The river, the “Upper Sac” as they call it, refers to the northern regions of the Sacramento river that meander through the state and is particularly prominent in Redding. Big water, typically fished from a drift boat or from the occasional low banks that allow one to toss a shiner or worm out with a spinner.

Five and a half hours and we are finally there! Turn on the utilities, flush the water system, turn on the fridge and we’re good to go! Down to the lake for a shake down run in the whaler to make sure everything’s as it should be before we hit the big lake later in the week. Fly fishing purists would be appalled, but, we tied some “needlefish” spoons on our fly rods to troll for trout! What the heck, our spin rods are all 6 to 7 foot so the 9 foot fly rods gave us a much more efficient spread between our lines. Laugh all you want, but it works!

 

 

 

Lewiston Lake, the smaller of two lakes in the immediate area, with about 750 acres of surface area sits just below the hillside where we would be staying for the next few nights. We had just tied up the whaler next to the launch the night before so it was a matter of minutes after we stepped out the door that we were in the boat headed out. I’ll let my buddy Dean describe the morning on the water.

“Next morning we hit the lake again, but still no flow going through. Trolled a bunch with no success then decided to head up to the north end and do some “Scotty fishing”. This method entails northern cali type driftboat fishing. Light lines (4lb) on a 2lb leader with a floaty egg and some real salmon eggs attached on a small lead splitshot. We took a few strikes but no hookups except for many encounters with the bottom as we were not getting any kind of drift. So screw dat. We went in for lunch and decided to suit up and hit the fabled trinity river fly-water 5 minutes away.”

Hiking and wading with a fly rod in hand, my absolute fave form of fresh water fishing, nothing like it!! For me it’s not all about the catching, just something about the serenity, the sound of the river and trees, reading the water looking for those little rifts or big rocks that create a slack water where the fish will hold. I suppose part of the draw is the amount of finesse and technique one needs to master to effectively present a dry fly well enough for a fish to want to take it. Not easy, but, so beautiful when done well.

“We cast small dries into the pocket water below a big pool and had our share of dinks fight over the floating candies. Joel said he saw a monster fish rise and check out his little hooked struggling smolt then slowly disappear. I thought to put a big ol’ trinity wooly bugger and strip it across and down. Joel did this for 15 minutes without a hit so we moved downstream. We came to a nice pool/run just below a riffle that looked nice and fishy. We cast a few times with no takers. Then, a big silver shadow moved up from the bottom to stick his nose out and check out the increasing hatch of caddis and baetis bugs that were floating by. It appeared he didn’t take anything off the top: I figured he wanted something more substantial for his trouble. I tied Joel on to a Herb Burton T-Bone, a fly that had taken me a 6lb. brown many years ago. Joel worked him for awhile but no takers. After a while, Joel said to try him. The riverbank was tight behind us, lots of casts into the bushes, not much room for a nice long reach and drift. finally, I remembered how to roll cast again and got the big dry down the lane. I never experienced a large steelie coming back more than a couple times to take a dry, but this one did. I missed him two or three times until I told myself to let him take it and put his head underwater before striking. After about an hour he cooperated and we had a fish on!”

I had just walked back up to where Dean was still working the run trying to get the big shadow to come up to take his fly again. I sat on the bank to rest and watched Dean casting. He told me that while I was gone downstream he had missed the fish yet again. I sat listening to the sound of the stream and Deans fly rod and line whooshing through the air. Then, a flash, a huge silver log appeared, sucked his fly in and rolled over towards the far bank, I held my breath for a second, then Dean lifted the tip of his rod and yelled as his reel started to scream! The rod was a 5wt Sage re-wrapped by our buddy Keith, a 5x tippet made for a challenging fight. It took all of ten minutes to get the fish to the net, which was actually way too small for this rather long chrome slab! Steelhead, ocean going rainbow trout, a real beauty for sure. One we will remember forever….I gently eased her back in the water, a few seconds later she shook her head to let me know she was ready to go, I relaxed my grip and she slipped away…

“Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.” 

 

 

I talk about the core group of guys that cut our Ulua fishing teeth together all those years ago quite often. After much mis-adventure which included what seemed to us anyway, an inordinate amount of missed opportunities to catch fish of our dreams we took comfort in making a little fun of ourselves. It certainly wasn’t for lack of strikes as we experienced a fair share of those. We just wern’t able to capitalize on many of them. At times it felt like we were cursed, that the fishing gods were determined to show us every possible way to lose a hooked fish.

A couple of clubs on Oahu at the time were Atlapac and the Pacific Casting Club, taking the “Pac” theme from those club names we decided to call ourselves the Zee Pac Casting Club. Never truly formalized as an official club it was basically just us making fun of our own misfortunes. Given the number of times we had experienced the dreaded strike (Zeeeee!) and resulting breaking of our lines (Pac!!) Zee Pac seemed an appropriate name for us.

Fast foward to the present, we recently re-united with one of the original Zee Pac members Keith and when Dean came to town we decided fishing together would be a good chance for us to really reconnect and reminisce about the early days of the Zee Pac.

After securing a spot where we could overnight without getting hassled the plan was in gear! Just like the old days a tent, our gear and a cooler of bevera….um….bait! We were ready once again for fishing adventure!!

Adventure……..well, three old farts humping fishing and camping gear over a couple of hundred yards of sand was, in its self, quite the adventure! More squeaks and groans then a 30 year old Yugo going over speed bumps in a K-Mart parking lot!

One thing we were always pretty good at was rigging up a mean tent! Well, the weather report was predicting 25mph gusts and a 50% chance of rain so, we had our work cut out for us! What the heck were we thinking?

After about an hour, there it was! The little three-man (more like three-munchkin) tent and a strong wind-break to protect it! See, we know what we doing! On to the fishing.

We had done some diving here before so knew there were a good amount of baitfish to be had. Of course there was also a week old frozen tako in the cooler too. Dean and I set off down the beach with our small spin outfits rigged with floater set ups. Soon we had some lively hinalea lauwili in our live bait bucket.

The low tide had swung its way through and the waves picked up a touch as the rise began. An 18 inch snowflake eel was the first to bite one of our live hinalea baits. We put it out of its misery and set it aside for later. If we were sliding it would be one bait, but, since we were baitcasting it would be three.

Late afternoon, Keiths new Nitro takes a solid strike, it doesn’t seem too big, but, takes a few good rips straight out then turns. Oh oh…..line’s hung up….can’t tell if it’s gone or not. It’s cold and windy, but, why not, Keiths first strike on his new rod, I strip down to my surfshorts and jump in the water. I follow the line out to where I can feel it stuck and pull carefully away from the obstruction, it’s free, but, the line is cut off…

Zee Pac!

Disappointed, naturally, but, encouraged by the strike early in the rise we all get busy working our poles!  My hinalea comes back strong and lively so I toss it back out to give it another go while I prep the snowflake eel. I cut the head off leaving about another 5 inches or so of the body attached. The fillets are left attached to the head, but, cut away from the spine which is left in place, cracked once or twice to release some smell and the entrails hang from the head also.

After dinner the tide is really moving now, time for the puhi! Being that we had to hump all our gear out to the spot all I brought was my Rainshadow baitcaster, a 1567F Rainshadow blank the good folks at 5O7S (5 Oceans 7 Seas) were nice enough to special order for me. A step down from the 1569F which is the heaviest they make, the 1567F still has impressive power and very light weight. My return to fishing with conventionals has admittedly been a little rough, too much spinner fishing may have taken me out of rhythm, so, lately I have been leaving the spinner home to force myself to work on my casting. It’s finally starting to work and I am casting with much more consistency and adequate distance. Didn’t bring the big stuff so had to search for a bigger hook among my baitcasting stuff. I find a pack of complimentary hooks from Bruddah Bill at Ewa Beach Buy & Sell, they look like about size 26 or 28. Perfect!!

I get a decent cast out and set the rod in the spike for the wait. I stop for a second to think back to years ago when I lost a 540 Sabre with a Black Marlin 6’o on it out to sea on a vicious strike, gotta tie the rod down. I find a strong two foot section of driftwood, tie my safety cord to it and bury it two feet deep in the sand. All set!

10:30pm just starting to fade off to sleep…..calang calang….zeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! I shine my light down the beach and the Rainshadow is bent way over pointing out to sea the safety cord is a tightrope!! I get there unclip the safety cord and pick up the rod. It’s pulling hard, but, feels manageable, it’s still taking line then stops I get a couple of pumps in then it goes again, then, gone…….

Zee Pac…….

01:30am I’m dreaming about the strike all over again…no…wait!! ZEEEE……EEEEEEEEEEEE…..EEEEEE!! Another strike!! I pop up and shine down the beach again…the rainshadow is at full arch again!!! I finally get there and the line is still ripping! I unclip the safety cord and just stand there holding the rod and watch the line peel. It finally stops I pick up the rod and try to start working it…”wha da hell?” I was so pumped up I had pulled the spike right out of the sand with the rod! Dean shows up and helps me get the spike off, it’s running again….it’s way out there now! It stops again and I try to lean on it, it doesn’t budge. Another run, all I can do is hang on. I’m loving the Rainshadow though, it’s standing up well, not noodling out. Finally I lean back on it and get some line, then it takes it all and more back. This goes on for another 20 minutes or so, back and forth. Gain some lose some, now I’m gaining more than its taking so the reel is finally filling back up. Suddenly it stops the side to side and turns straight out and makes another run.

Zee Pac…..

I curse myself for not leadering up this rig before leaving home. At my age I wonder how many more opportunities like this are going to come my way. Complacency, it’ll get you every time! I should know better….next time…when the Zee Pac rides again!!

 

Ol’ skool

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When did I become old school? Have to admit I am. When I think back to days out on the lava fields on the big island I realize just how lucky we were as many of those places we used go to are now gone under new construction. In a few decades there will be even fewer places still.

Long way down, slow going, hot, I still miss it a lot!!

 

When we started, old school was things like Templars and full bamboo rods. Black Penn 6’os, Long Beaches and Jigmasters were the norm.  High speed Penn 6’os, 4’os and Newells were gaining popularity along with their kits to modify Penns. Daiwa had just entered the market with their Penn “clones”. Half and half rods were still common and one piece rods were the rule.

The new ulua blank in town was the Sabre 540, a two piece blank that came with a fibreglass dowel to splice it together. The standards were Lamiglass SB160 or SB162’s and the Fenwick 16810. Two piece ulua rods were the exception rather than the norm as they are these days.

A half & half and a Sabre 540 restored beautifully by Gilbert Madriga

So, there I was trying to get back into it after a decade plus hiatus. It’s not as though I totally gave up fishing, just didn’t go very often and outings were far, far less serious, fishing primarily with spinners. I’d rig up the big spinner when the family or neighbors picnicked or stayed at a beach house. Then Facebook came along and I started to seek out other fishermen to share the interest with and met “Bruddah Bill” on his Ulua Fishing page. I enjoyed talking fishing and giving beginners advice on the page. This eventually led to Bill inviting me to become a moderator on a new fishing forum he was starting up. I had no idea what that entailed, but, I dove in anyway just happy to feel a part of the fishing scene again! http://forums.ifishhawaii.com/

It was the “big” forum in town commonly referred to as “HFF” that taught me a lot about the “New School” and made me see that I was “Ol’ skool”.  The nice thing was that through the forum I was also able to re-connect with old fishing friends from my time living on the big island. http://www.ulua-fishing.com/hff/index.php

So, in this day and age of social media on the Internet, where are our historians? Is it just the data stored on servers that will become our historical libraries? As far as Ulua fishing, the only “official” Ulua fishing historians I know of are Brian Funai and John R. K. Clark. Brian was born into the family of an ulua fisherman and has done much research on the subject for articles he has written about ulua fishing history. John Clark, a former life guard has written a number of books about beaches in Hawaii and spoke to many ulua fishermen while researching his book “Guardian Of The Sea – Jizo in Hawaii” which chronicles the Jizo statues and obelisks placed as warnings near spots where fishermen have died.  Much of our sports deeper history is so to speak “under-ground” or local knowledge handed down from friend to friend, father to son or daughter. One of the old friends I mentioned re-connecting with through HFF is known on the forum as “kona-ulua-style”.  He is one of many who have transitioned from what the young guns these days call old school to the current state of ulua fishing. He continues to “pound” as they say, perhaps in a slightly more laid back fashion then back in the days of casting club affiliation and more serious, less family oriented outings, but, his knowledge of all things “Ulua” is un-questioned. Perhaps it’s people like kona-ulua-style, that we, who may be interested in the history of ulua fishing need to tap into to help keep the knowledge and adventures alive!!

Typical bunch a local guys I guess, some friends from back in their hana-bata days others from work or school. Me from Maui, two from Kauai, one guy from Boston (hah?!) and the core group (or hana-bata boys) from Oahu. Surfing was our thing during the day and when not working, hostess bars at night. Life in general was a lot more free and easy. Beers at the bar were a buck and a drink for your “hostess” was three. No curfews and no D.U.I. check points!! Yea, life was good!!

Don’t recall who started or made the suggestion, but, one day we found ourselves being drawn into the fishing thing.  We had all done some fishing in our youth with parents or friends, but, never took it to the real hobby or pastime level. I guess there was enough of a seed planted that once we started into it, we got pretty serious, quickly.

One of the guys, Steve, had gotten serious about a young lady from Maui and had taken a transfer to Maui to be close to her. This started a series of day trips to Maui by Dean and I to go fishing on the back side of Haleakala with Steve. Our success rate there was much better, further setting the “fishing hook” if you will.

Several “sayonara” strikes later, Ulua became the object of our fishing desires and we upgraded our equipment. We got pretty good……at finding things…..We found a five pound lobster stuck in a tide pool, another time Daniel and Bruce (the Bostonian) found a 67 pound ulua!! Catch an ulua? Nada……

Sayonara strikes, the fishing gods way of setting the hook in you without letting you catch one! When you least expect it, violence! The bell clanging like something scared the s*%t out of it and the ratchet screaming like your hook got caught on a freight train passing by!! Your pole’s bent over further than you ever though possible, shuddering and shaking like it’s possessed!! THEN…..”pac”……..suddenly you speak fluent “French”……As you wind up your line your legs are shaking, your mind racing with “What ifs” and the could’a, should’a, would’a!!

Our quest for ulua continued, many nights and days of vienna sausage, pork and beans, leaky tents and puhi strikes. No, not strikes on our puhi bait, puhi strikes! You know, you jack up your pole, rerig, cast and slide down a fresh bait, then after you wash your hands and finally settle back down on your cot, “ding ding”. Not the previously mentioned violence, just “ding ding”….#*%^!!!

Now comes the hard part, do you leave it and risk getting bankrupt, lose everything? Or do you get out of your warm sleeping bag, put your headlamp back on and go out there? #*%^!!! No goin catch nutin when your rig stay deep inside one puhi hole!!…#*%^!!!

It was one of those times, third re-rig and slide in one hour and of course, “ding ding”……..apparently I had set up my pole right in front of a puhi honey hole! Silence, I guess everyone else was getting some sleep or quietly snickering, wondering if I was going to get up again. Funny, haha! Why are puhi only bothering my pole? Damit! I sit up, grab my headlamp and walk out to my pole. I give the pole a good boost, stuck…..sigh…..So I take a couple wraps of line and go for the “full pull” to break the line and it gives! I quickly take up the slack and start reeling, it’s coming, but, some dead weight on the line. Guess I got lucky and got the puhi to come out! OK, boost, crank, boost, crank, crank, woh big paka! Aurite, fresh bait!

About 30 minutes later, the pole is casted back out and puhi is filleted. The head is sitting on the cutting board, it’s about the size of a 20oz soda bottle with some backbone and guts hanging from it. OK, lets go for it! I put a knife edge on a 52 BKN point and shove it through his mouth out through the top of his head. Slide da bugga down! “Let’s see a puhi swallow dat!!”

OK, fillets bagged and on ice, wash hands, wash face, tide goin turn in about two hours, time for a short snooze……”ding ding”…What da…”CALANGA LANGA LANGA LANGA!!! ZEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!ZEEE!!” YEEEEHAAA!! “CLANG CLANG CLANG!!! ZEEEEEEEE ZEEEEEE EEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!” “Eh who’s pole dat?” AZ MINE, NEVA MIND GO BACK SLEEP!! “ZEEEEE PAC!!!” @&$^#(^&#&%!!!

Yep, das us!! Da “ZEE PAC” Casting club!!!

 

The Old Man

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“Yea, before time ova hea had pleeeny papio!”

Dean and I had just been laid off from our jobs and were spending our first summer unemployed since graduating high school. We were dunking some spinners at little beach park in Waialua. Back then it was actually just an empty lot. An old man had walked over to see what we had caught and that was his response when we told him that we hadn’t had any luck.

I recall at the time we were a little bothered by his remark initialy, perhaps fueled by the fact that we had no time limits on our fishing and still our fish cooler remained empty! Ah well, he was just curious, He no doubt had fond memories of fishing in the area and just wanted to talk story. He told us he lived in Waialua all his life and had fished there for many years. He didn’t fish anymore, he said, he was too old.

When he came by we were just about start to packing up to go home. I don’t know if it was the “pleeeny papio” or  the thought of not being able to fish anymore that made us change our minds, but, that we did. Instead of breaking down our gear and heading home we shoved our still rigged poles and coolers in the car for a quick trip to the store to restock our supplies!

As we drove to the store we laughed saying that someday we were going to be the old men telling the young boys how there used to be pleeeny papio! We nearly ran off the road laughing when Dean said “I guess we better start catching or we goin have to lie to da kids!”

Fast forward to the present and we find ourselves a lot older and perhaps a tad wiser! We’ve put in our time, paid our dues as they say and actually do catch more fish than we used to. I’m not saying we catch ulua every time out or anything, but, lets just say we’ve lowered our expectations these days and have realistic catch targets. We still whitewash sometimes, but, more often then not we get something to take home or release back into the sea.

Oio about to be revived and released.

Catch and release, now that’s probably the biggest change in our fishing philosophy and perhaps the most important!  It all started when Dean called from California saying he had been giving fly fishing a try and was really enjoying it. He wanted the boys to come up and give it a shot! “Fly fishing?” I asked suspiciously. “Yea, it’s pretty cool, more like hunting, ’cause you actually see the fish and target a specific one!” “You catch anything?” “Yea, rainbow trout!” “Did you eat ‘um?” “Nah, released ‘um.” “what?”

Despite our initial scepticism, we all ended up in Northern California, stuffed into neoprene condoms, uh, waders and kookie little vests that looked too short. Turns out though, fly fishing was pretty cool! I ended up going yard, bought my own waders, boots, kookie vest and even wrapped a G. Loomis 4wt rod when I got back home to Kona.

After catching a few fingerlings in a local stream near Deans house to get the feel of things, we headed north to fish the upper Sacramento river and it’s tributaries in the Trinity Alps. We had decided the best way for us to really learn was to fish on private land, somewhere that they supplemented the wild stock in the streams with farm raised fish giving us better chance of hooking up. The thing was that these types of places are normally catch and release only. We all chipped in and rented a cabin on a private ranch that gave us one mile of well stocked stream to ourselves! We all caught and released fish and had great time doing it! Next challenge, mastering the dry fly! That’s a story for another forum.

Back home in Kona, the first release was a papio I estimated at about 3 pounds. Tagging kits weren’t available back then so it was just a simple admire, quick picture and release. Felt pretty good actually! Since then several ulua, a bunch of papio and oio have been fought to submission, revived and set free!

My tagging kit.

I recently got tagging kits for papio and ulua. Perhaps if we keep at this we can change that line to “Still get pleenty papio!”