Spyda's Blog

A Hawaiian Style Fishing Blog

Browsing Posts tagged Oamas

“Same old Bays” says Dean, I just nod in agreement. The tall ironwood trees still stand guard at the edge of the road, looking down at the small patches of naupaka fighting to reestablish after the hoards of 4×4’s and atv’s tore at them for years and years. Help has come in the form of large concrete blocks that prevent the entry of the motorized demons. Not especially pretty, but, effective none the less. They have brought back a touch of the peacefulness that we once knew here. I was first introduced to this little gem of a beach back in the mid ’70s when Steve brought me here to surf. It was also when I first met and got to know the boys. They had all been coming out to this area since the ’60s and had their own names for all the surf breaks along this stretch. Bays became our regular surf, dive and fishing spot. While a few things have changed over the years the one thing that has always been the same is the water. All the time we’ve spent in the water here has brought us to know the reef and currents well. The spot has become like and old girlfriend. We know her moods. We respect her when she’s angry and are always grateful when she’s generous.


Naturally the ride out to Bays is familiar one for us. Over the years we’ve made that drive at all hours of the day and night. The decision to drive out here has on occasion been a questionable one when considering the number of glasses we raised prior to heading out.  Some of those late night  journeys resulted in us all sleeping in the car until the heat of the mid-morning sun would wake us. Sometimes we’d just get out of the car, take a pee, get back in and drive home.  In those early days we were mostly there to surf. A quick surf was always the best cure for a hangover. It always took one person to break the ice by paddling out, usually Steve, then one by one we’d drag our boards out and jump in.

While we’ve had some success fishing there and certainly a lot of good times, Keith remains as the only Zee Packer on record to score an Ulua there. A mystery we’ve circled around for many, many  years. It’s been a long while since we’ve caught much of anything there, but, there we were. Perhaps ecouraged by the oama in our live bait bucket, maybe just because it was comfortable being there. It was in fact the first time we had been out there since Keith passed away. Neither of us had said it out loud, but, I think Dean and I both felt it was the place to be that day.

Keith’s funeral had been a mixed bag of emotions. Touching bases with a few old friends, looking at the collage of pictures of his life and seeing his portrait on the mantle. This had been the first time any event had caused the whole gang to pull in the fishing poles and drive into town from our annual beach house vacation. With all that he and his family had been through in the last few years of his life you could sense that within the veil of sadness there was a breeze of relief and a feeling of joy knowing that he was done with the pain and in a much better place. The MC at the service gave a nod to the fishing gang by asking everyone to keep Keith in our hearts and minds and that perhaps Keith would bring a fish our way someday!

As we made the long drive back to the country from town we reflected on the service and talked about some of our favorite memories of Keith.  While the general mood was pleasent, I know it was tough for all of us to accept that we had just said our final goodbys to our brother.

Getting back to the beach house I wondered how much energy I would be able to put into fishing after such a draining evening. As Daniel and I sat drinking some beers on the deck Dean got right to checking the live bait well and re-rigging his lines. After a bit Dan and I finally decided to get on it too and got some baits on our lines and tossed them out. It was a clear beautiful night, so in the softer country lighting there were a ton of stars in view. As I was gazing up at them I saw a formation that looked like an Ulua with its mouth wide open ready to inhale a helpless baitfish! I was about to point it out to the guys when I thought better of it and decided it would only bring waves of drunken ridicule my way….

Just after midnight, Dean had gone down for the count and Dan and I were still up talking story when a hard bell ring penetrated the alcoholic blur! I looked up and saw the tip of my spinner rod dip out of sight behind the plants between us and the beach, wow fish on finally!! When I got to the rod I could hear the line smoothly peeling out of the Fin-nor despite the rather tight drag setting I was using. I removed the bell and the tie-down. After a few seconds the run eased up and the tip started to lift. I pulled the rod out of the spike and leaned back on it. The fish turned and headed left crossing Daniels line. I had to follow to the left to try and get it to clear. I had just managed to do that when it decided to head back to the right. This time it stayed clear and I shouted to Dan that it was coming in. A short while later we saw the flash of a white ulua in the shorebreak and the next wave tumbled it on to the sand! What’taya know? Ulua, first in a long time for me. I had not caught any ulua since leaving the Big Island over 18 years ago!


Small bugga, but, definately ulua for sure. It would later weigh in at 14 pounds. The first thing that came to mind when I landed it was Keith! Keith had brought the boys an ulua!! I couldn’t stop repeating it the rest of the night, Keith brought us a fish! It made us all happy, it was a clear sign. The first sign came few days after Keith had passed when Dean had a dream. All his life Dean has had dreams about people close to him shortly after they die. In his dream about Keith, Dean said Keith told him he was fine and he looked good. The second sign was the ulua I saw in the sky that night. This ulua was the third and final sign, a confirmation if you will, for all of us that Keith was indeed okay and doing fine!

Keith had made the long ride home.



Magic bait, for me is the last bait that caught me an Ulua, but, for many of my friends it’s Oama. The little goats, papio candy and the reason that once a year all the stores run out of aerators. Every year, August there abouts, (as early as April or late as October) the schools of juvenile Weke appear near shore on all the Hawaiian islands. Fishermen and women flock to their favorite spots to catch Oama for consumption or for bait for papio. Newbees or just plain lazy ones ask “Where dey stay?”. In this day of the internet and smartphone technology the word gets around quickly and the schools get pounded. All part of the game, good or bad, unfortunately the fish populations don’t increase proportionately with the increase of fishermen and we see smaller “per angler” counts being caught each year. What has increased despite increased awareness in the community is poaching. Illegal throw nets and night trapping have become a common occurrence because truthfully, there is no active enforcement taking place. Brazen poachers perform their illegal craft in front of beach goers with no conscience what so ever!

So, where do we go from here? Many foolishly think that the fish will always be there. “How?” I ask, “What makes you think that?” I’m no expert, I have no college degree, I don’t even read all the information the real experts put out there to keep us all informed. What I do know is if we continue in this mindless direction of “Fish now, worry later” future generations will only have the stories handed down by their elders.

When Cook first landed in the Hawaiian islands for the first time over two centuries ago the Hawaiians already had serious concerns about conserving the oceans resources and many very focused restrictions (kapu) designed to keep harvesting of these resources in check. Contrary to the popular belief that the over throw of the Hawaiian Kingdom was the cause of the loss of this forward thinking, in truth it was the son of Kamehameha I, Liholiho (Kamehameha II) that abolished kapu. This is not to say that the kapu system was without fault, but, rather that the greater loss was the understanding that the then abundant resource was not infinite.

So, what’s the next step? I’d say little steps for the most part, as long as they are in the correct direction forward. Perhaps we should start with our keiki, instead of teaching them to keep everything they catch, teach them to appreciate catch and release. To let the little fish live!!

The boys had gone back to Honolulu following our annual camp/fishing trip, Dean and Judy were staying another couple of days, so I decided to take them down to a semi-secluded white sand beach that I knew Judy would like. We packed some lunch, the dive gear, a couple of spinners and Deans 9wt fly rod in my Cherokee and headed down to Makalawena.

We get there and there’s no one in sight, cool! Got the whole beach to ourselves!! Judy took a stroll down the empty beach while Dean and I messed around with the spinners. We didn’t have much for bait except some stinky pink ika, so we weren’t having much luck. We decided to switch gears and go for a quick dive for tako and maybe change our luck.

Dean was the first in, he stuck his face in the water and popped right back up! “Oama! Brah get Oamas!!” What? We had been so layed back coming there after some serious Ulua fishing that we didn’t even notice the Oama in the water! We stripped off the dive gear and rigged up our light spinner top halfs with light line and oama hooks. Try as we may, the stinky ika just wasn’t doing it! We chased and chased, but couldn’t hook any Oama. We went over to a finger of lava that went out into the water to look for anything that we could try to use for bait. I was just grabbing some pipipi off the rocks when Dean said “Eh, check dis out! Get Oama in this pool!!” Lo and behold a small tide pool in the rocks held about 20 Oama captive! Woohoo! A natural live bait well with the bait inside already! Hows dat!?!

The smaller bay on the left, you can see the small lava finger.

I grabbed my 9 foot rod that had my trusty old 550SS on it and tied on a big floater. To that I tied a 6 foot leader of 40lb test with a # 18 hook and no lead. I hooked an Oama through the back and tossed it out. It didn’t take long maybe 5 minutes max, I was watching my floater when I saw a black streak rushing towards it! BAM!! Hanapaa!! This place is one of the rare shallow water spots in Kona so I kept my hands up high taking full advantage of the 9 foot rod. Fortunately, I had only tossed it about 20 yards so the height was effective and I landed the 12 pound Omilu a few minutes later.


Now Dean only had his small spinner and his fly rod, so after seeing the Omilu come up he was madly casting the biggest flies he had with him in hopes of getting something on the fly rod! Finally, I told him, “Eh, dis not one IGFA tournament! Hook one Oama on your fly line and tro’um out! Who cares if not textbook fly fishing?” He just kinda looked at me and said “Oh yea no? What da heck!” He tied an oio hook to his tippet, hooked on an Oama and tossed it out. Again, didn’t take long, BAM!! BIG strike!! Screama!! Woohoo!! “Hold um brah!!” This one was a lttle too big though, he couldn’t keep it up high and it eventually cut him off… too bad! I looked at Dean and he was in a daze, knees shakin! I just had to laugh! “Ho brah! How was dat!!” Finally he looked up at me and laughed shaking his head. “Dam! Dat was nuts! F#%K!!”

While Dean sat and sipped a cup of wine to calm down I tossed another one out on the floater. Blamo, again and again and again!! This would be the first time we ever released Ulua and big papio! There was one small one about 8lbs, but, the rest (lost count, maybe 5 or 6) were 10 to twelve all close to the same size as the first one that went in to cooler. To bad I didn’t have a tagging kit back then!

You know, sometimes it just happens that way. We had no expectations, just hoped to maybe get some Mamo for pupu that night, but, we ended up with pupus, dinner and one heck of a day of fishing!