Spyda's Blog

A Hawaiian Style Fishing Blog

Browsing Posts tagged Penn Surfmaster

Ulua Blood

Comments off

“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…

We were getting there, we could cast our conventionals decently and without backlashes only the occasional over-run. Dean and I decided we were good enough to give one of the “known” spots a try.
Portlock Point, high cliff, deep water, biggest problem was humping all our gear down to the point. We had midweek days off so good chance to avoid the club crowd.
When we got there mid-afternoon, no one there! Yes!! We got all our stuff down and set up. Dean had Penn 4/o on a Fenwick and I had my Daiwa 600H on a Sabre 540 and a Penn Surfmaster on a Fenwick. We had frozen tako and some fresh Akule for bait.
It had been a quiet afternoon and no other fishermen and come so it looked like we had the point to ourselves! After the sun went down we had some dinner and sat back to enjoy the view and talk story.
A few hours later the tide had turned and was on it’s way back up. We decided to jack up the poles and recast. After recasting the Daiwa and sliding a couple tako legs down I recast the Surfmaster. I hooked a fresh Akule through the mouth and out the top of it’s head with a 36 BKN and slid it down my line. I had locked down the drag when I jacked it up so I backed it off and tested the drag pressure, pulling, reeling up and adjusting a few times before I was satisfied with the drag setting. I stood up and was about to grab the bell when the reel started screaming! I clicked off the ratchet and waited till it stopped. I couldn’t believe how fast the line was peeling out and started to question myself about the drag setting. Finally it stopped and I was able to pull the rod from the holder. I resisted the temptation to tighten the drag telling myself I had just checked and rechecked the setting a few seconds ago and I wasn’t in panic mode like I was right now! It made another run still going straight out, I just hung on, but, the little Surfmaster didn’t hold that much line in the first place so it was getting down there! Finally, it stopped and swung right, I leaned back on it and started to pump back some line. It felt kinda big, I started to worry about my line, only 30lb Ande with a 3 foot steel leader and another 8 inches of steel leader on the slide. I slowly started gaining more line as the fish swung back wide out to the left then swung back right again.

I flicked on my headlamp and followed the line down to the water, holy sh#*!! A big silver log with jaw full of big teeth! Kaku! I pumped and worked it in closer, it was just outside the shelf below the ladder. Dean had the slide gaff in hand so I backed up to bring the line in closer to him. He got the gaff on the line and slid it down. First try, miss…now the surge swept the fish up on to the shelf, I wound up the line furiously to keep it taught. Then when the water receded I had to do the opposite and feed line. When it was back in the water Dean tried to set the gaff again, miss, dam it!! The anxiety was soaring in both of us. Dean pulled the gaff up the line and said “I goin down get’um!” He took the gaff off the line and coiled the rope up and started down the ladder. Meanwhile, the fish was being swept up the shelf and off again and again! Finally after what seemed like forever I heard Dean yelling “Whoo hoo! I got’um I got’um!!” Now, my concern shifted to Dean, climbing up that chain ladder with one hand carrying the Kaku on the gaff in the other! I guess it was adrenaline ‘cause it didn’t take him all that long! When he reached the top he handed the gaff to me and I laid it on the ground. All we could do was stare! We both started laughing, compared to anything else we had caught this thing was ridiculous big!! That’s when we realized all we had was one of those dinky playmate coolers!

I hiked out to the car drove to Foodland and brought back a couple of bags of ice. I had to sacrifice my sleeping bag, I soaked it in salt water put the fish in it and packed it in ice. Next morning we tied all our poles together and hung the “fish bag” from it and humped it and all our other gear out one trip!
It weighed in on a certified scale at 35 pounds! The fish wasn’t the only one with a big toothy grin…

Keith is one of our original surfing/fishing gang. He has what I call “Good Eye”, some would call it artistic, which he is, but, what I’m refering to is his ability to focus on details that make the difference between just OK and real good. For example he’s the only one of us that was able to shape a surfboard that actually was usable.  His drawings are crazy good! I looked at one of his ulua drawings once and saw that there were very few actual lines, just a kajillion dots! The texture it gave was what made the difference.

He also showed me his “eye” when we first started making our own ulua poles. He called me to ask if I could show him how to build a rod. I showed him the basics, how to find the spine, spacing the eyes and reel seat. Then we started wrapping, first the underwrap, place the guide and overwrap. In no time the rod was done! It was nice, the wraps were clean and tight. We even did a simple diamond wrap. It would be the ugliest rod he ever built, not because it was badly wrapped or  really ugly in anyway, just that each rod he wrapped since then became progressively more beautiful than the previous one! That’s just him and his eye!

Unfortunately, those talents don’t help you catch Ulua, which Keith like everyone else wanted to do. It’s not like he never got strikes, he had some monster strikes, but, luck just never seemed to be with him. Did he hustle? Is he lazy? I’d have to say that Keith is inconsistent, there were times when he hustled like crazy and others where he slid one bait down and left it all night.

I think it was at about the 10 or 11 year mark when Keith finally broke through and landed his first. Other than catching one yourself, being there when a good friend catches their first is one of the most exciting moments in fishing!

In one of my other stories I briefly mention Keith catching a 10 pounder just before we found out that someone had died at that spot the day before. That was his first! Yea, we did celebrate and it was a special moment! Until the guys came and told us what happened. I felt a little bad for Keith, we didn’t get to celebrate very long.

Later that day though, I didn’t feel quite as bad because Keith caught another 10 pounder! It turned out be one of our better trips. Keith ended up with 3 ulua and I caught 1, so 4 ulua on an “overnighter”,  not bad!

Now, about another of our gang who’s still waiting! It’s been nearly 30 years for Dean!! Now, he has been living on the mainland for the last 25, but, he comes home every summer and sometimes winter. Besides getting some waves, fishing is always on the agenda. He was always my partner in the years I entered the Kona Coast Casting Club Tournament and every summer after those tournament years we would get the gang together for a 2 or 3 day camp out on the lava. Despite the fact that he gave up his conventional equipment many years ago I still feel he’s due, long over due! He has never lost one bit of his enthusiasm. He’s been the gaff man on some of the biggest fish I’ve caught in my life, so he’s been there when the action was good.

For many years he brought his girl friend and her son with us on those summer trips. As a lot of us do with the young ones, we started the boy out with a small spinner and taught him to catch live bait for us. Finally after a few years Dean decided it was time to set up a “big” rig for him. We all pitched in what we had, Keith let him a light 10 foot conventional rod, my Penn Surfmaster with 30lb test was matched up with it and Dean set everything up for him. Rather than try to teach him how to cast out there on the rocks, Dean set it up for hang bait.

Wouldn’t you know, first afternoon, first strike of the trip, on the kids pole! So we all run down there and get him on the rod. For the rig we had lent him this was a good size fish! Prior to this the biggest fish he had ever fought was a Humuhumu! To make matters even worse, he had to deal with all his “Uncles” around him giving him advice while his mom yelled at him to be careful!! Somehow we managed to not cause him to lose the fish and the 18 pound white Ulua was brought to gaff, much to Deans chagrin. He was genuinely thrilled for the kid, but, couldn’t hide his frustration either! He had done everything except fight the fish!

No, the beer is not his, he was only 12 when this was taken.

 Dean will be back this summer to try again…..