Spyda's Blog

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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!!


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It happens now and then in the fishing world, you just happen to be at the right place at the right time. Some crazier than others, much more common for boat fishermen, the fish just get crazy and the bite is on! For Ulua fishermen it’s much more rare, but, it does happen.

Back in the eighties Mel Hamada and his friends were out at Kaawaloa near Kealakekua bay when they experienced what most of us would consider a once in a lifetime thing. Being such a long time ago I’m not sure of the exact number, but, it was something like 8 to 12 Ulua on that one trip!! A couple were big boys I think one was in the 90+ range. Incredible trip for sure, these days I’m sure some of the fish would have been tagged and released, but, Ulua tagging programs had not been implemented back then. I seem to recall that the late Mike Sakamoto was with them and documented their awesome outing on his TV show “Fishing Tales”.

Our gang experienced something similar, no where nearly as impressive size wise, but, for sure a once in a life time deal for us. It all started about a month before when my friend Carl came home from a solo outing with a nice Omilu in his cooler. He said he was out at a near by spot that both of us had fished before. The fish in his cooler was not the exciting part, he told me he had seen a huge school of Omilu pass by while fishing, “Not just a few!!” he said, “too many to even guess!!”

Naturally this peaked my interest, so, a few weeks later Keith and I decided to “scout” the spot for our gangs annual summer camping/fishing trip. I’ve mentioned this trip a couple of times before as there were some memorable things that happened on that trip, both good and bad. I mentioned the good in “Catch or no catch” http://spyda.ifishhawaii.com/?p=596 and the bad in “When Fishing Friends Leave” http://spyda.ifishhawaii.com/?p=50 The good was catching 4 Omilu Ulua on that overnight trip and the bad unfortunately was finding out someone had died there the day before.

A week later we arrived at the same spot with the gang for our summer outing. That first afternoon Judys son Greg experiences “beginners luck” when he catches an 18 pound white ulua with the first bait on his first time using an ulua rig!! He had caught the first bait fish of the day, a Moana and used it to catch his first Ulua!































Later that afternoon I picked up a 12 pound Omilu on my spinner using a live Mamo for bait. We were off to a good start, but, while we had hopes we would catch more we had no idea how many would come!













The next day my spinner takes a hit again and a 15 pound Omilu is in the box! That one took what I call a black mamo, don’t know the Hawaiian name for it I believe it’s a Rock Damselfish. Looks like a Kupipi, but, much darker colored with no discernible spot like the Kupipi has.













Later that afternoon a 10 pounder takes a Mamo on my spinner again and as I am walking back to camp with my fish, Steve’s pole takes a hit and lands a 16 pound Omilu! Five fish in the box! Never happened to us before!!














Needless to say dinner was joyous occasion that night the beers were flowing and even a bottle of bubbly popped! Boy did that cot feel good that night! But wait!! Bell and ratchet!! My 6’0 is going off!! I had slid down a live moana before going to sleep, a 24 pound white Ulua decided to join the party!!















Well, the fun had to stop sooner or later, the final day of the trip Keith takes a vicious strike, his first on this trip, a screamer! After a 40 minute fight he gets cut off….oh well, it’s a real bummer for Keith, but, how can we complain?













The happy campers!!


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”!!


This trip was bound to be special, Deans cousin Charlie’s position with the Forestry Department provided him with access to basically anywhere on the Big Island! As part of his job he had hiked miles and miles of  Big Island shoreline! He knew all the regular fishing spots as well as all the lesser known spots that were on private land. He has seen places very few other people ever have! He and his crew hiked areas not accessible by normal means. In some areas they followed trails that were probably used by ancient Hawaiian messengers.

I like talking about the things in my minds eye, I can only wonder about all the things Charlie has seen!

This was a family trip so, me being the only non-relative in the group, I felt privileged to have been asked to come along. Besides Dean, Charlie and I, Charlies wife Lorraine, Deans Mom, his grandmother, Auntie Nancy, Uncle Mits and Uncle Wakida were with us on this trip. It was a long drive from Volcano where Charlie lived, to the southwest end of the Big Island. This is where we finally turned off the highway and on to a dirt road that headed us down towards the ocean. About a mile down we came to a locked gate, Charlie jumped out and pulled out his “magic” key chain. Nothing really magic about it except for the fact that it held keys that gave him access through various private lands to get to the oceanfront pretty much anywhere on the island! This would be my first trek out into a remote, generally inaccessible area of the Big Island, excited doesn’t completely describe how I felt! Having been born into a home nestled in plantation camp 3 near Sprecklesville Maui I’m comfortable in rural “country” type environments, but, this was something beyond that, it was like stepping back in time! Save for the modern vehicles we rode in, the scenes were not unlike what travelers in the islands would have seen a hundred fifty years ago!

We were headed to a bay in the south Kona area. After passing through the gate and locking it behind us we followed the dirt road down through pasture land. At the lower edge of the ranch we passed through another gate and out into open land. Hawaii, or the “Big Island” as it is more commonly known is made up of several large mountains, the Kohala mountains, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Mauna Loa. This day we were working our way down the southern slope of Mauna Loa. You couldn’t help but be impressed watching Uncle Wakida, all of 65 maybe 70 years old 4 wheeling that big Ford pick-up down the rough lava trail. Some parts of the trail had been partially washed out by the winters rains so, it was a little gnarly in a few spots. Uncle took it all in stride, nary a blink of concern, he’d been here and done this before!

When you go to these places there are no “facilities” at all, period. Problem? Not really, Charlie brought all the facilities with him! I’m serious! His Ford F250 pick-up and attached trailer were filled to the gills with everything you could imagine and more!

When we got down to the bay, Charlie guided us into a clearing under a group of huge Kiawe trees. Setting up camp was a serious undertaking. He first tied a heavy rope between two large trees, over this a canvas tarp created a huge (20’x40′?) tent. Another canvas tarp became the floor. A couple of sheets of plywood and some posts came together like a puzzle and created a table with a shelf underneath which became our pantry. Stands for stoves were set up. Another rope was thrown over a big branch and tied to a 5 gallon bucket that had a shower head attached to the bottom. When it came time to shower the bucket was filled with water and hoisted up. Now of course we did have a mixed group of men and women so some privacy was required. No problem, a wooden cargo pallet was placed below the bucket as a floor, pvc pipes were fitted into pre-drilled holes to create a frame and a plastic tarp was wrapped around and attached to create a shower stall! Not done yet, Charlie grabbed a shovel walked around a clump of bushes and started digging. When the hole was of satisfactory size he put another wooden pallet down over it. This one had a hole in the middle, getting the picture? He wasn’t done yet! On this pallet he attached four equal sized pieces of plywood that formed a box over the hole, a big garbage bag was put down into the hole and a wrapped over the top of the plywood box, then, (get this!) a pre-fitted toilet seat was snapped into place. Then, again a pvc pipe frame went up the tarp wrapped around and the private toilet was done, even had a toilet paper holder inside and a bottle of pine-sol to “tone things down a bit”!! Extreme? Well, we did have gramma there, so, Charlie made sure that she and the other women would be comfortable! He had good reason, for the next couple of days the women cooked and fed us three square meals a day at camp! I ate better than I did at home, way better! I think I gained weight on that trip!

One morning when the tide and wave action were favorable we worked the shoreline harvesting opihi. Later that evening we came in from fishing to a hot bowl of miso soup as a starter to our meal,  a scoop of a half dozen or so opihi were dropped into your bowl, in a few seconds they would be tender and slide right out of their shells! Beach gourmet cuisine ala head chef Gramma! She knew what she was doing, if you put opihi in a soup while cooking they’ll get hard and rubbery, this was the way to do it! Sooo ono!!

After cleaning up the dinner dishes, Gramma would settle in to sleep. Charlie, Dean, his Mom, Auntie Nancy and I would grab our Menpachi equipment and hike out about a quarter mile from camp to a spot that Charlie knew would be good for red fish.

It was just as advertised! The action was great! While Dean and I worked it with light spinners, his mom, auntie and Charlie used long hand poles and pretty much schooled us on Menpachi fishing! Everyone caught a bunch and we all hiked back with heavy buckets!

Thinking back to that trip, I recall that Dean and I had not yet graduated to heavy Ulua equipment and were just dunking with spinners. It makes me wonder what kind of action we might have had sliding live Menpachi and Aweoweo out at that remote spot!

It really kills me to think that I don’t have a single fishing or camp photo to commemorate that trip! Ah well, once again, the minds eye will have to do!

A few years later when I moved to Kona to pursue what had now become a passion, fishing for Ulua, I would often dream about Charlies key chain and all the places I could go with it!


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

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

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

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

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

Moi or lobster, I'm happy with either!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mixed bag, typical of this spot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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