Spyda's Blog

A Hawaiian Style Fishing Blog

Browsing Posts tagged Moi


Comments off

They walked by holding long bamboo poles with no reels and a bucket. Just a silent nod of acknowledgement as they passed. I watched them walk out to the right side of the point and settle into a little pocket in the ledge. They sat in darkness setting up their poles. “Hooking lobsters, I think….” says Dean. I had never heard of such a thing!
Hand pole fishing for lobsters it turns out has been around along long time. When we went home the next day I took a look at Edward Hosaka’s book “Shore Fishing in Hawaii” and found a description of several methods used.
Years later in Kona, my friend Carl came by one day and described a slightly different rig that he used. This rig used a reel to accomodate spots higher above the water.
It was a very basic rig, kinda like an Oio set up. 18″ to 20″ leader 40 or 50 lb test, short leadline 3-4″. Use a lead slightly heavier than you normally use for that rod and reel, i.e. if you dunk with a 4oz use a 5oz. We liked to use odoul hooks, I don’t see them around much these days, so, those hooks they call “octopus hooks” look like a good replacement. The rod needs to be at least 10 to 11 feet long to keep it clear of the edge as you will be dropping the the rig straight down.

Set up a spike the same way you would for a hang bait, basically straight out almost laying flat. If all you are going to do is fish for lobster you can just hold the rod if you like. We usually did this to kill time when ulua fishing so used a spike and a tie down for the rod. No bell, you do need to watch the pole if you are not holding it.
Bait the hook with a strip of ika, set the rod in the spike and drop the line straight down. When you feel the lead hit bottom, engage the gears (or on a spinner, close the bail) then reel the line up a few turns to get the lead off the bottom, not too much, you want the bait draging back and forth across the bottom with the surge.
Then you sit, wait and watch, if it’s too dark to see the tip of the rod you can tape a small glow stick on it. If the set up is good you will see the rod tip bend and move in the direction of the surge, back and forth. Now, what you are watching for is break in the back an forth rhythm. Usually, it will stop at one end of the swing, then slowly start pulling the tip away. When you see this happen, carefully take the safety cord off, lock down the drag, slowly take the rod out of the spike, take up line slowly as you point the rod down to the water, then, quickly lift the rod up, if you feel weight, reel as fast as you can. Hopefully when you get the line up a lobster will be caught on your line! Swing it over land as quickly as possible. Many lobsters have been lost back to the sea at this critical moment! If you don’t get it coming up when you first lift, just hold steady pressure on the line hopefully it will give up it’s grip and come free. You need to be ready to reel it before it gets another grip on the bottom or wedges its self in a hole.

This is me holding a fat one Carl caught off "High Rock" at Milolii.

Look for places that are fairly deep, it helps to have a bit of a ledge so the “swing” doesn’t take the line into the rocks. It will take some trial and error, you’ll get stuck a lot until you find the right setting and/or spot. That first place I mention seeing the guys with bamboo poles was Laie Point back in the early ’80’s. Truthfully, I learned and only used this technique on the Big Island, where there are a lot of spots where this can be done.

Spots that work usually are the same spots that you can catch moi and mu at. In fact, I later modified the rig with another swivel and short leader and hook about 3 feet above to catch them with.  I use a #18 oio hook for this and usually aama crab for bait.

Moi or lobster, I'm happy with either!

We usually spent time catching red fish for bait, but, when everybody started to settle in for the night and it got dark around the shoreline, this was a great way to get your mind off the ulua poles. I have always believed in not “vibeing” out the rods, in other words staring at the poles waiting for a strike. I don’t think I ever got a strike when I was looking at my poles. Going bolohead on the ulua rods is not as bad when you bring home moi or lobster!

Some kau kau on the infamous "Ulua Premonition cooler".

As typical beginners, we wanted to catch, but, we soon found just wanting wasn’t near enough to get it done! When we started to get serious about it there wasn’t much available media wise except Edward Hosaka’s “Shore Fishing In Hawaii” and the “Hawaii Fishing News”! The now classic books from Jim Rizzuto and Michael Sakamoto had not been published yet. No knock on Hosaka’s book, I still refer to it, but, it was published in 1944 so, fishing regulations and techniques had changed quite a bit by then. HFN has always been the source for the latest information and a hell of a lot of pure stoke for local fishermen! Still, our hunger for Ulua knowledge continued to grow and become  more and more obsessive.

We were still slinging spinners exclusively when we decided a trip to the B.I. was the answer to all the “bolohead” days and nights of fishing. Dean has family up there and told us some of his cousins were experienced Ulua Fishermen, so, off we went!

Deans cousin Larry was kind and more importantly, patient enough to put up with us greenhorns and all our questions! Walking into Larrys house, except for Dean of course, we didn’t know what to expect. Little did I know it would change my life dramatically! As Larry showed us around his house we walked into a room mostly barren except for some rod wrapping stands with a partially built menpachi rod balanced on them. I’m sure Larry will laugh if he reads this, but, it was like a “zen” moment for me! I recall thinking, “Man this guy’s a real fisherman!” Years later I would flash back to this moment  and laugh while sitting in my home in Kona admiring a rod I had just built as it sat on stands in my living room.

Larry led us into his living room where there was a framed picture of  Larry and two other adult males kneeling behind a giant Ulua! Note that I said “behind” it not around or next to it! When we asked how heavy it was he told us it was too big for their coolers so they had cut it up at the beach and never weighed it! His estimate was 120, conservative I think!

Larry told us he would take us down to a spot that had been a favorite of the family for many years. We were excited! We loaded our stuff into his Toyota Land Cruiser Wagon. None of us had ever been four-wheeling before so this alone was going to be a treat!

The spot was near the bottom of a river mouth, the last winter storms had brought large rocks over the usual trail to the spot. We climbed over rocks bigger than I ever thought possible! Fortunately the run from the paved road to the spot was a short one. This was not the typical Big Island spot, no high cliff, water not too deep and there was a huge popper right out in front of where we would be fishing! I was a little surprised, but, Larry was calm and confident.

Larry didn’t bring any bait with him, we had a little ika in our cooler, but, he had no intention of mooching any bait from us. We were about to get our first lesson in using bait the ocean provided us locally. First, he showed us how to catch gori, alaihi and aama crabs along the shoreline we were fishing. Then he taught us the best ways to put them on our hooks. Techniques that all became a permanent part of our fishing repertoire.

I don’t remember exactly what we caught on that trip, but, we returned many times to fish there. We caught papio, oio, moi, mu, kumu, nenue and all sorts of other fish there. It became one of our “magic” spots. White-washing was definately the exception out there.

Mixed bag, typical of this spot.

I had some of my most memorable light tackle battles there with oio and papio on light spinners. My best catch was an 8lb oio on 6 lb test! I actually caught two about the same size on the same trip! One of the best battles with a fish I had there was with one that got away. Doesn’t it always seem to work out that way? To make matters worse, on that particular trip I was fishing alone, so no witnesses!

I had driven out there late one afternoon figuring I could wash away some of the “Bolohead Blues” I had been experiencing on my last few ulua trips with some light tackle action. I set up two rods, my big spinner (30lb test) and my favorite whipping rod a 6 foot one piece graphite rod with a Penn 722z which had 6lb test spooled on it.

The afternoon and early evening had been pretty quiet, not much action just one missed strike on the big pole. The wind was blowing pretty good and the water was rough. I jacked up both poles and recast. A big aama on the big pole and a small live gori on the 722. The tide was heavy on the rise and the water was rushing all the way around the big popper to the left like a stream.

The big popper on the left can be seen jutting out, the other big popper is just off screen to the right.

I stripped down to my shorts and poured some water over me to wash off some of the salt before I changed into warm clothes. I got on my cot and crawled in my sleeping bag. Still shivering, I had brief moment of self doubt thinking “What am I doing out here alone?”

I was just starting to doze off when I heard the little brass bell on the 722 ting-a-ling, I held my breath and concentrated on the sound thinking it  probably was the wind or waves, but, it kept on ting-a-linging! I grabbed my headlamp and shined at my pole….it was in full arch!!

I ran out and picked up the rod, line was peeling out furiously! The fish tore out the channel between the two big poppers and was headed out to sea! I ran to the left to line up better with the channel and to go under my big spinner line which I had cast into the channel. Nothing to do but hang on! It’s not like I could horse it with 6lb test! Finally it stopped, then started to swing left, it was way out there! I didn’t have much line left on the reel. I felt it start to rub on the left side popper. I grabbed my landing net and walked over towards the popper, the normal hop over was now a 5 foot wide crossing in rushing water! Somehow I got across, but, not before losing both my slippers and the net! I hobbled along the edge barefooted pulling my line from under ha’uke’uke urchins which were abundant there. When I got near the outside tip of the popper waves were splashing and surging all around! Amazingly, when I pulled the line free from the last urchin it was clear and I could feel the fish again! It must have felt me because it took off on another run! I have no idea how much time had passed at this point, but, it sure seemed like forever! The fish was still strong and it fought me back and forth, fortunately staying clear. Finally I started to gain line and the side to side swings got shorter and shorter. Then it broke surface, wow, nice sized white papio!

Now I was really nervous! I had to try and time the waves to bring the fish up onto the popper where I was. I waited until the water was high up on the popper and a wave came in over it. I reeled and pulled it in with the wave, it came straight towards me, perfect……right through my legs and into a crack behind me, I heard the line snap just as the water enveloped it and swept it back out in to the sea!! It was gone……I think I woke babies on the other side of the island sceaming every french word in the book at the top of my lungs!! Never have I agonized over losing a fish as I did this one! I mean, it wasn’t a hundred pound ulua, but, it was a dam good fish for 6lb test! I have an estimate of it’s size in my mind, but, will not say it here, it’s all moot! No one else saw it, no one saw me fighting it, no one can even verifiy that I was fishing that night! I went home the next morning with the worst case of the “Bolohead Blues” I have ever had…..crap!