Spyda's Blog

A Hawaiian Style Fishing Blog

Browsing Posts tagged Oio

“Eh! You off tomorrow? We go holoholo!!”

“Excuse me, what is hoe low hoe low?”

“If I tell you den no sense we go brah!!”


In the Hawaiian culture it is customary to not speak of fishing when one plans to go. The belief being that the fish will be forewarned and therefore the fishing will unproductive. So we say “We going holoholo!” Harry Uhane Jim, the Kahuna, healer, teacher and author of “Wise Secrets Of Aloha” describes holoholo as “kind of like a journey without a destination” which seems to explain the common use of holoholo as “code” for “we go fishing!”

Holoholo doesn’t mean fishing, but, if your fishing partner says it, it probably does. There is a contradiction though, in the book “Hawaiian Fishing Traditions” by Moke Manu & Others published by the Kalamaku Press, Holoholo is described as type of fishing net used to catch fish such as uhu, kala, uouoa, manini and nenue. So this brings the question, “If we say we’re going holoholo, will the fish not think that we are going net fishing and run away?” Anyway, I believe that much of what we, who do not actually speak the Hawaiian language use to express our belief in Hawaiian traditions has been watered down somewhat and may be hapa-haole versions of actual Hawaiian sayings and traditions.

Bananas, one of the most common fishing superstitions says, ” If you bring bananas fishing you’re gonna have bad luck!” I recently read one of the best explanations I’ve personally heard that dispels this superstition on one of the local fishing forums. Way back in the beginnings of long distance ocean voyaging, sailors commonly suffered from scurvy. Scurvy is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. Before research identified the specific connection to vitamin C the fix for seamen was to carry a sufficient amount of fruit on board to prevent the occurrence of scurvy which sometimes included bananas. This where it starts, bananas as we all know don’t have a very good self life and start to spoil quickly. The bananas rotting accelerated the spoilage of the other fruit in their supplies and became “bad luck” on board ship!! Needless to say they stopped stocking ships with bananas!

At our recent annual “Summer Camp” (which actually occurred in September) we had bananas in our kitchen! We didn’t catch a hundred pound ulua, but, we caught fish and had hella lot of fun. We won’t be worrying about bananas any more!


8.9 lbs. caught with a live Hinalea! I'd say that's lucky!!



Most would agree with “Little”, but, not many would consider “Toughest” as an accurate description of Danny Chamizo’s “Ewa Fenceline to Fencline” Tounament. You gotta think about it a bit though, there’s only about three and a half miles of shoreline, some of it inaccesable, in an area dominated by local resident fishermen. It’s like trying to out fish a Bass touring pro on a pond at his grandpappy’s farm where he learned to fish!! Most of the entrants are these local fishermen and women who fish right in this stretch of beach all the time! You can’t deny local knowledge, especially at Hau Bush were there are locals fishing pretty much everyday! Don’t get me wrong, there are lot of nice fish caught there, but, the place gets pounded!!

Options on the stretch are Ewa Beach park at the opposite end and the public access points between them. Other than that you need to live on the beach or know someone who does. There are a few rentals available, but, good luck snagging one during tournament week.

The tournament is strictly casting, no swimming, kayaking or ballooning your line out. The locals however, use an interesting and by rule, legal technique they call “walking it out”. In areas shallow enough anglers will walk their rod and reel out as far as they can before casting. You can add 50 yards or so to your cast! Of course casting while standing on the reef and getting blasted by waves you’re generally not going to get the same casting distance as you would, but, you can get your bait out further. One drawback to this technique though, recasting in the middle of a dark night can be challenging not only physically, but, mentally as well. You’re definately not going to check bait every 20 minutes! Also what do you do if your lead line breaks on the cast? Stand in the waves and re-rig or walk back in re-rig then walk back out again?

This years tournament took place last week with about 120+ entrants less than 20 fish were landed! Tough fishing for sure, there have been regular tournament fishermen who have had some success, but, they definately don’t dominate. This is why I feel beating the locals at their favorite pastime at their favorite spot makes this “The Toughest Little Fishing Tounament in the West”!!


A bit of sarcasm in this title I suppose, truth is I can’t find any really legitimate excuses for the way I fished this past weekend at the Ewa Fenceline to Fenceline Tournament. Kind of a weird thing, even Jeff had to ask me what was up. I really don’t have any answers, I just sucked.

I guess it began on Thursday, the day before the tournament. My plan was to head out to the east side to my favorite tako grounds to pick up bait. The low tide was early in the morning so I made plans to leave Ewa at 630am. Got up at 545, woke my grandson Brendan up and told him to get washed up and ready to go. This is when I find out his father has his diving equipment, all he has is his wet suit and shorts.

So I get my gear in the jeep and start shuffling the cars in the driveway around so we can get out. When I get back to the jeep Brendan’s sitting in the passenger seat adjusting the strap on a set of goggles. “Hey, where’d you get that?”he tells me his aunty (my oldest Elisa) let him some of her kids stuff. OK, good to go then!

As we are passing through Kahaluu I see him struggling with a pair of “kiddie” swim fins! “Hey, that’s not going to work, you may as well go barefoot!” Sigh………..So, I pull into the first open store I see knowing that most along this coast carry a few fishing and diving things. I end up spending $22 on a set of Cressi fins that are nicer than my crusty old pair! Sigh…………

So with that and stops along the way for road construction we pull up about 30 minutes later than planned. The tide has already turned and is on the rise, the current will be moving. We work the inside first knowing that Brendan won’t last too long before he gets cold. So, another 45 minutes have passed before I head out alone to find the grounds out side.

As I’m working my way slowly out I notice a sandy puka with some loose rocks, don’t know how to describe why, but, it was just a little odd. So, I dive down to get a closer look. I flick the rocks with my spear just as a surge comes through, I see the rocks slide back out of sight. I can’t tell if it was the surge that did that, so, I push at the rocks with the spear again trying to find an opening somewhere. I keep flicking rocks away, but, still only feel more rocks, no opening. I dive down hold on to a rock to get a look inside as I flick rocks, FOOOM!! A huge ink cloud envelops me, I back up keeping my spear in the hole and try to watch for the tako coming out. I don’t see it, I still can’t see the hole, but continue to blindly scratch around with the spear trying to feel something. When the water finally clears I go back down and dig like crazy, nothing!! SH&*!! I circle the surrounding area for a good 10 to 15 minutes, nothing. Schooled by a tako!!

When I finally find the grounds, the current is ripping now, I fight with it for as long as I can. I realize that I’m not focused, I’m swimming back and forth not following any sort of plan to cover the area. My left calf starts to cramp, I’m done. Bruddah Bills words ring in my ears, “You sure you don’t want to pick up one tako from the shop before I sell out?”

Plan “B”, catch live bait. OK, that should be easy enough! After dropping off my gear at Bills, I grab the light whipping rig and a small bucket and the shrimp. There’s a spot I take the grandkids to now and then, lots of baitfish so they always have fun. Big tide heavy on the rise water is coming over the little barrier reef we usually stand on when fishing. No prob, just gotta figure out where the baitfish would move to in a big tide like this. I set up a little floater rig so I can explore the area easier. First cast gets stuck on the reef, lose the leader below the floater…… I check my little bag, no leader spool!……So I strip some 6lb test off the reel, re-tie the swivel and floater and attach the piece of line and tie on a new hook and split shot. The bigger leader shouldn’t be a problem in the rough water. I find fish near the middle of a small pool on the inside of the reef. I pick up two 4″ Hinalea Lauwili, perfect size! One more would be nice! Shoots, lose the leader again, re-rig with another piece of mainline, first cast  stuck again! it’s almost start fishing time, gotta go, this will have to be good enough.

Roll back into Bills, Jeff has his Ballistics locked and loaded ready to go. As I rig up I’m second guessing myself, I keep flipping back and forth, which rig to put the live bait on. Besides the hinas, all I have is ika. 6pm, start fishing! The whole beach is suddenly a flurry of activity. I put a hinalea on my new Rainshadow, whoa! Way out there! To bad it’s only the bait and not my rig………..awesome…….one left…….

Jeffs fully loaded reel after his cast! Dats how!

Unfortunately, this set back, set the tone for my casting the rest of the weekend. I had one of the worst backlashes I’ve had in years! Even cut the line in the middle of my spool! I ended up removing the sideplate to pull the spool out to get everything off, good grief!! I did throw some lead way, way out there though! I can say one thing, it brought back some memories. Memories of being a newb sitting out on the rocks at Moi Hole wondering if I’d ever get it right. Teetering on the brink of saying I quit, then realizing how stupid that was, just taking the easy way out. So, I’d pull and pull until the spool was clear, wind it all back up, re-rig and walk out to cast again. The persistance eventually paid off and my casting got better and problems encountered far fewer. That was then, this is now…..

In trying to understand, I backed up to 1996 when I basically abandoned the sport to move back to Oahu to get married. Back then my Ulua arsenal consisted of a Daiwa 450H, 600H and a Penn 9’o. The answer may just be right there. With these bigger reels, stiffer poles and heavier lead, skinny guy that I am, I could never rip these things around so my casts are dependant on rhythm and timing more than raw power like the young tigas do. So, I believe with this smaller much lighter rig I’m trying to “blast” ‘um too much! I’m losing all my rhythm and timing and basically losing control of the cast! We’ll test this theory when I get a new tip for the rainshadow……Yes, insult to injury, the tip spun on the new rod. To match the dark frames of my guides I used the closest size they had at the shop I was at. The tube was pretty big so I had to build up the tip before glueing it on. Despite re-doing it once because I wanted it stronger, it still didn’t hold! Search is on for a better fitting tip………

OH, the tournament? Well needless to say I didn’t fare very well, but, Jeff was able to land four Oio. He released a couple and weighed in the two largest for 7th place in the open class!

Jeff 7th place fish, lots of Oio in the 21-22" range, a few ounces split the places!

First Place Open, same guy that won the GT Masters! On a roll!

The rubbish bag weigh in! Danny gives prizes to the heaviest bags!

Tournament Director Danny Chamizo (left) and his volunteer crew!

Weather man said heavy showers and flashflood warnings in the afternoon.

So, there we were driving to the windward side, dive gear and a couple of spinners in the back. Up on the Likelike it’s pouring! Hmmm…. OK, Kaneohe is wet, but, not raining, that’s good, right? I’m thinking to myself, “Glad I brought the gore-tex jacket!”

First stop, dive for tako. As we walk to the beach a group of divers are just drying off after their dive. Not much in their bags, hopefully they were out after fish and not tako. Unusual weather, barely any wind, remember we’re on the windward side!

Dean and I pick up one piece each and head in. This is plenty, no sense in taking any more than we need.

On the road again headed further north to a spot Dean says he has a feeling about. We get there just as my cell phone chimes a reminder about a conference call I need to dial into. So, Dean grabs his gear and heads down to the beach, I’ll catch up with him after the call.

Finally, got my gear heading down the beach, way down the beach! Geez Dean! Had I known we’d be this far down the beach I’d have lightened my load a bit! After stopping once along the way to get the feeling back in my arms I finally get there! Getting old….

As I’m setting up I look back towards Kaawa and all I see is grey! “Brah, we gonna get dumped on man!” Dean laughs and says “nah, goin spread out not goin come ova hea!”

A half hour later, we’re still dry, but, now the entire horizon is a mass of grey. Crazy lighting flashes and thunder rumbles. Haula has now disappeared into the mist! I look at Dean, all he has is a fleece hoody! I’m already formulating a plan to “turtle up” in my jacket.

“Ting a ling a ling!!” “Zzzzzzzz……ZZZZZZZZZZ!!” Whoo hoo!! Strike on Deans pole!!

Fish on!!

We both jump up from our chairs, I walk and Dean runs! I stand back and watch him fight the fish and realize we’re in an arena! Steep green ridges of the pali at our back, the horizon a thick wall of grey topped by huge puffs of cotton . Odd, it’s storming so hard and serious and we’re completely surrounded, yet, we remain totally dry!

I look back at Dean and he’s reeling in madly, “What Brah? Oio?” “Yep.” Just then it turns around and screams the reel again. Couple of minutes later a small bonefish is on the beach, maybe 3, 4lbs?

The fancy measuring device indicates the seriousness of this outing!

A quick pic and back in the ocean it goes! Deans got a grin on his face like……………… “Told ya I had a feeling!”

Did the first fishermen fish in the ocean or was it in a lake or a stream? I guess it depends on which theory of evolution you believe. Certainly for Polynesians it was the ocean. While Ulua fishing in the style we know today may be in it’s second century (my guess), it is far from being the oldest known “style” of fishing known to man. One could guess that spear or rock throwing would be the first known methods. Fly Fishing on the other hand has written references to it as far back as the 2nd century! That’s a long time ago man!

My long awaited vacation had finally come, so, grab the rods and head to the beach? That would be my normal M.O., but, this time around I was heading for California to do some fresh water fishing with my long time fishing partner Dean. Campbell, CA. a suburb of San Jose in the south end of the bay area. Dean and Judys home would be base camp, but, the fishing base camp would be in Lewiston, some three hundred miles north in Shasta County just west of Redding. Little crazy? Yea, but, getting away from the stress of work and every day routine is worth it! No cell service, at least for my carrier, so no email, text or calls for the next 3 and a half days! Oh…. yea……..! (can you feel the exhale there?)

Up there, in the trees, our home for the next few days.

After unloading our gear and groceries and unhitching the boat, we’re off to see the wizard! No, his name is not Oz and he doesn’t have a tall pointy cap or magic wand! But, many say he is magic! His name is Herb Burton, he and his wife Pat are the owners of the Trinity Fly Shop in Lewiston. IMHO, Herb is the best guide, hands down in the Trinity Alps! Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good guides out there, but, very few that know the area as well as Herb and Pats’ skill as a fly tier is right there with the best! Testament to their skill is the fact that their business has thrived for nearly thirty years! This despite their shop being a couple of miles off of the main road which is already way the hell out in the boonies as it is! Our visit was not really business however as over the years we have had the distinct pleasure of becoming good friends with Herb, even hooking up now and then back home in Honolulu.

This pic is looking up into the valley, the main road is some two miles behind me!

Wind Chill, ya think?

So, over the next few days we did our thing up on the big lake (the Trinity) and on Lewiston lake right below the park where we stayed. Caught some trout the first day and actually managed to fool a couple of small-mouths with some swimmers the next.  

We ended up taking this one as it commited suicide by taking a bass jig with big hook.

We’ve all heard it, said it and experienced the “Hawaiian”connection while traveling the world. You know, no matter where you are somehow people from Hawaii will always find each other! Sometimes it’s obvious, pidgin english, rubbah slippas and shorts in 30 degree weather, but, other signs are a little more subtle, just eye contact or a small logo on a shirt. Now, Herb is not local born and raised, but, as a military brat he spent some of his youth in Hawaii and as a young adult moved to the North Shore of Oahu to live the Surf scene and culture. He has come to know the local style well and has many friends from the islands.

Well, Thursday afternoon, we get back from the lake to find a note on our door, “Call Herb”. Dean rings him up on the land line and finds out we’re invited to a barbecue at Herb and Pats! This should be fun!

OK, no pic of their house, but, the roofline just behind the fish is their home.

So, (this is where the Hawaiians finding Hawaiians thing gets tied in) at the Burtons party we are introduced to and get to talk story with Earl Miyamoto from the D.A.R.! Yes, the State of Hawaii, Division of Aquatic Resources! It turns out Earl and his long time fishing partner Ed Sakoda are pretty serious fly fishermen. They were up in Lewiston fishing for trout and steelhead with Herb as their guide of course, who else? You can find pictures of them with some hefty fish on Herbs website. Back home you can find them fly fishing the world class Oio grounds on Oahu.

Next morning, packing up for the long ride home. Can’t complain, good fishing, good friends, it don’t get any better!

Here's to hoping I can take some of this calm with me back to work!

Fish Tech

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There many things that we all still do as fishermen that haven’t changed at all since the invention of the fish hook. Yet fishermen & women remain at least in my mind, some of the most inventive, creative sports people in the world! Constantly trying to reinvent the wheel or at least make it work better, there seems no end to innovation and refinement. Some have made the transition from hobby tinkerers to small businesses.

When we started getting serious about our pursuit of Ulua back in the early eighties, there wasn’t much in the way of specialized, purpose built tackle as we see today. Back then if you wanted an ulua pole you either had to be lucky enough to have a dad or uncle that was into it and had equipment to hand down or you had to find a custom rod builder and the money to have one made. There was a third option, build it yourself!

Edmund was the first of our group that went the build your own route, interestingly, he was also the first to catch an Ulua! I also went that route and Keith, although he was the only one who inherited ulua gear from an uncle was next to give rod wrapping a shot.

March 1982, 23 lbs. Laie Point

 I unfortunately didn’t have the same kind of luck with my first pole as Edmund. I had built a Sabre 540 and mounted a brand new Penn 6’o with a Newell Black Marlin kit. We were out at Mokuleia and I had slid down a large Oio head. The rig was so heavy I had barely got it out 25 yards, if that far! The rod was 50 yards away from our camp and we were partying pretty hard when it went off! The ratchet was screaming as I ran as hard as I could across the soft sand! As I ran I could see the pole leaning more and more over, the spike was going down! I was about 10 or 15 yards away when the pole flew out of the spike and zipped across the sand into the water, never to be seen again!! I would build two more rods before finally scoring my first Ulua out at Moi Hole in August of 1984.

It’s a lot easier to get decent equipment these days! So much so that there’s even a lot more used equipment available because of it. Heck, you can even buy an Ulua pole at Sears and Ace Hardware! The technology applied to the manufacturing of the blanks available these days is nothing short of amazing when compared to the old fibreglass blanks we had. High carbon graphite and graphite blends have made rods stronger and lighter. The process of rolling these blanks has been refined to such a finite level that despite small diameters and wispy looks the high tech blanks today generate an incredible amount of power while weighing considerably less than the old standard fiberglass blanks!

The evolution of the Ulua rod in just the  last 15 years is really amazing! 14 years ago I sold my house in Kona and moved back to Oahu to get married. This meant a serious cut back on my time spent fishing. So, as I have worked my way back into it in the last year or so, I have discovered the changes that have taken place since I lost touch have been quite dramatic! The move forward actually started a few years before my departure from Kona. Joe Kimura rods were already showing up in local stores in Kona and Kenneth Kimura had started up Island Rod Wrap (IRW). I know the latter part of that only because a friend and former fishing partner of mine in Kona, Carl, designed the logo for IRW in exchange for a custom rod. Carl was renting a room in my house at the time so I had chance to admire the beautiful candy apple red rod up close when it was still a cherry! As I look back at that now I see that it was a sign of things to come in the future. The one thing I didn’t expect was the number of manufacturers that are now building rods specifically for the Ulua fishermen. Ulua rods are no longer exclusive to the custom builder.

No pic of Carls IRW rod, but, here we are admiring the 55 lber that broke it's cherry!

In an earlier post I described trying some rods my friend Jeff had custom built himself. He built these rods using Daiwa’s Ballistic blanks. Now, I’m just slowly getting caught up with all the new stuff out there and have not tried all the custom blanks like the ones IRW has custom made for them, but, if the ballistics are not on the cutting edge then I  just can’t imagine what cutting edge blanks would be like!

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!”