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Spyda's Blog

A Hawaiian Style Fishing Blog

Browsing Posts tagged Papio Fishing

“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.

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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!

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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.

 

 

The Grey

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Morning grey, my favorite time. I’m usually alone during the grey, after recasting the poles for the dawn patrol it’s a time to sit back and collect my thoughts about what did or didn’t work the night before and formulate a plan going foward. One of the best times to throw out a lure in my opinion. I’m always amazed how the fish can see the lures I throw in the dark. I’ve had strikes at the moment the lure hits the water! How is that possible? You hear about papio and ulua tracking a lure in the air and hitting as it lands, but, in the dark? Baffling!

I actually try to get up well before the grey to recast so, by the time it starts, I’m done with all of that and most times already have a hot cup of coffee in hand or if the grounds are calling me I may have my whipping set up in hand ready to work the shoreline. Which ever it is there is nothing, for me anyway, like watching the sunrise down at the oceans edge somewhere! It’s not only about being on the east end somewhere to see the actual sunrise, as beautiful as it is here in Hawaii, it’s about seeing the world around you “waking up”. The color change as shadows fade, the movement of the ocean and trees come into focus. Natures original version of the “fade in”, think computer animations are cool? This is the real deal! Appreciate it, the view may not be the same forever.

By the way, this picture above is one taken about a half hour after “The Grey”.

Smell the coffee?

 

Ulua Blood

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“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you wont give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy. … Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.”
Bob Marley

It starts simply enough, a bamboo pole with Dad, Grandpa or an Uncle. That first tug of a fish on the end of your line, the fish is hooked and so are you. Like so many of us when I got to the point where my understanding was beyond just catching a fish and became more focused, Ulua became the “Holy Grail”. We wanted the secrets, because as hard as we tried, the Ulua never came. Were we really that bad?? We read, we asked questions, we watched other people, but it just wasn’t happening.

After the first two ulua poles I built failed to catch an ulua, one lost to a monster strike and the other a catastrophic failure, I realized that I had to step up my game to succeed. When the second rod I built broke a foot from the tip I was mad, embarrassed and really felt like a failure.

The rod was a 540 Saber which was a two piece blank which came with a dowel to splice the two pieces together. I drove down to McCully Bike to look for a top half to replace my broken one. I got lucky, there was a black top half which was cracked at the bottom. I took the damaged blank up to the counter and asked the clerk if they would be willing to sell it to me at a discount since it was cracked. The store manager agreed and I had my top half!

I knew looking at it I could cut off the cracked portion and still be able to use the dowel and splice it on to my old bottom half. It would be a little shorter, but, I still felt it would be fine. I had to build it better, stronger and well, something else. I couldn’t figure it out at the time, but, there had to be something I could do differently this time that would make the difference.

The first problem was getting the old top half off. I had loaded up on the epoxy when I had spliced it together so this was going to be tough. I had little experience with this sort of stuff, there wasn’t Google or Youtube to turn to, so I had to wing it, make a decision and go for it! The bottom half was a straight tube, no taper so I guessed where the dowel ended and cut it off! Second problem, not quite as serious, the bottom half was white. So, after I epoxied the butt cap on I got black butt wrap cord and started wrapping the bottom half. Part way up I decided to add some trim for accent. I found some sheets of stuff they use to dress lures with and cut some strips, red and silver placed them on the blank, that’s when it hit me! Blood! This rod would be all black with red pin stripes to represent the blood of ulua!

With the rod finished there was one thing left to do, go get that first ulua!

Well, as most of us know, that was easier said than done. I set about reviewing my entire process, knots, leader set up, where and when I went fishing, moon phase, tides, hook sharpening and drag setting. I thought about it constantly. In doing this I got a little obsessive and pushed myself a little further than I ever did. I was only working part-time back then so it did give me more time, but, even then it didn’t seem like enough.

One day a good friend of mine from work told me he was taking some vacation time and planned to spend a good part of it fishing. He planned to be out at Moi Hole out on the west side and told me to come on out if I could. Problem was I couldn’t get any vacation time off so would be working the entire time he was going to be out there. “Bummers” I thought, well, if I want to succeed I need to make some sacrifices. Like they say, “The good things in life never come easy!”

So the week comes and I figure my friend Hiro is out there pounding it already. I have to work in the morning so I pack what I can in the trunk of the car, the poles and cooler will have to wait until after work. One pm the next day I’m leaving work, I head to Tamashiro Market to look for bait. No tako so I pick up some fresh akule and ika and head home to finish loading up.

Out at Moi Hole, Hiro and a few of the other regulars have about 6 to 8 poles out and are kicking back when I roll up. No strikes so far they report, but, the weather is nice and the company is great so sprits are high! I get to work setting up. My patched up black and red Saber is the first I cast out, I slide a whole akule down on a 36 bkn. Next out is my Harrington with a Surfmaster (2’0). This one gets an akule fillet bait casted out. Soon it’s dinner time and the hibachi is lit up and everyone busts out some kau kau for the pot luck table.

One of the regulars in attendance is Andy Miyamoto, the Mayor of Moi Hole back then. Andy is a big man, I’m told he played semi-pro baseball in Japan. Casting was just casting until the first time I watched Andy cast! It was clear, when he casted he was fishing in an area we weren’t despite the fact that we were fishing right next to each other!

Dinner was great as it always seems to be out on the rocks or the beach. Just after sunset before it got real dark my Harrington takes a strike! A few minutes later a 5 pound Awa is on the rocks and into the cooler! Yes! Action, we’re all feeling energized and work our poles late into the night. I have to work the next morning so I’m the first one down.

Six am, after a little coffee I jack-up my poles and leave them by Hiro’s car, I’ll be back àfter work.

One pm and I’m driving to Tamashiros again. This time they have fresh tako. I buy tako and ice then hit the freeway back to the west side!!

When I get there Hiro kids me saying “Eh, you better not catch again, I never even get strike yet!!“. We all laugh except Andy, who just gives me a wry smile. Andys wife has come out and is in their tent cooking up a storm, she cooks for everyone. Good people the Miyamotos!

I work my poles hard, but save one whole tako for the big tide in the morning.

Five am music to my ears! The bell and rachet on the black Saber are goin off!! I had forced myself out of my warm cot about 3 in the morning to slide the whole 1.5lb tako I had saved for the morning rise. My mind is a blurr, but, quickly getting jacked with adrenelin! Is this it? The fish is straight out, now starting to angle to the right. it slows then swings to the left and runs again. I feel like I’m lost in a dream. Hiro is standing next to me coaching and giving me encouragement. The fish surges again then slows and swings back to the right. I’m gaining some line now, holy smokes! It this happening?! Suddenly someone yells “Color!!” I look down and there it is, the broad silver side of an ulua is shimmering underwater below us. I hear Hiro’s calm voice telling me “Easy, easy…watch the tip…let um take line if he like…” My anxiety is soaring! After what seems like forever it pops to the surface! “Kagami!!” “Hit um, hit um!!” The gaff hits home and the fish is hauled up on to the rocks, unbelievable!!

My first Ulua! My first and only (to this date) Kagami Ulua! What an amazing feeling!!

Later after breakfast, I pack to leave and say my good byes and thanks to everyone. The only thing not packed is the slide rig with the still fresh tako on it. I walk over to Andys tent and place it on his cooler. We say nothing, just nod and exchange wry smiles…

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!!

“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!!”

“What?”

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!

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!”

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.

Dinner

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!