Spyda's Blog

A Hawaiian Style Fishing Blog

Browsing Posts tagged Tako

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…

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!”

Tako Time

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It irked the heck out of me, Dean would just say, “Look for tuned over rocks or you can see their color”. Yea, so easy…. hours and hours of swimming around looking, but, not finding anything was getting old.

But, there I was swimming again! “Just look for da holes!”, sure, no problem! OK, so I start poking any holes in the reef I saw, big, small, rocks piled up, no rocks! “How ’bout dis one, or dis one!” I thought to myself as I stabbed at any hole, “or dis….ooo, what dat?” A small tentacle waved out of the hole!

It was a little guy, barely legal size, but, since it died of fright when I tickled it with my spear, I had to take it……uhem.

Did this first find open the floodgates to tako diving stardom? Nope. Next time out, swimming again!

Well, I’m older now and perhaps it’s just being more patient, I seem to have better luck finding tako. I don’t consider myself a “tako diver”, I just dive for tako. What’s the secret? Well, I don’t know about a secret, but, I’ve found that pretty much everything people had told me about tako diving was true! Problem is I never understood what they were saying until I started to find tako myself! Put it this way, how do you describe someone who is a master of disguise? “Oh well, sometimes he’s blond with long hair other times he get short red hair, once in a while he get beard, sometimes only long side burns” . Well, I think you get the picture. How you gonna find someone in a crowd with a description like that!

So, how do you learn to find tako? One way is to find someone who is a good tako diver and also a good enough friend that they will let you shadow them on a tako dive. I don’t mean just go dive together, you gotta be right there along side them. They’ll have to be patient enough to just point out the hole without poking the tako or teasing it until you’ve had a chance to see the tako in the hole! Understand though that it still may not be easy to see ‘um! They may end up putting their spear right up to the opening of the hole to get you to see it. The tako will see you long before you see it! Sometimes you can be looking at a hole with a tako in it, but, not see it, however as you drift past it’ll be watching you and often will move a little to keep sight of you, that’s when you get ‘um!!

One thing that has helped me a lot is dressing comfortably for the dive. By comfortably I mean warm! A long sleeve wet suit is a must for me! What warm does for you is allow you to relax and take your time which is a must for tako diving.

I’ve taken my grandson on a few dives with me and have found tako each time. I think the reason is when I dive with him, I have to go real slow to keep him next to me. Obviously I want to keep him safe and I guess I’m also motivated to help him learn. I figure if I can teach him to catch tako, grampa don’t have to do long dives by himself any more to get bait! Maybe someday! Right now he doesn’t last too long in the water, skinny kid so he gets cold fast.

A good friend of mine and a very good tako diver back in the day always told me that once you find a tako, you should carefully search the immediate area, good chance you’ll find others. This helped me a great deal as I would stay near Dean when we dove so I knew when he scored one. I would immediately poke my head up to mark the spot, then scour the area and yea, a couple of times I was able to find another tako near by! 

Some guys just have an instant knack for it, others like me struggle for years before developing, as they call it “the eye”.  As I mention I don’t consider myself a very good tako diver, but, I find them now and then. The hard work is worth it though! Tako equals good eats, whether you cook or smoke the tako yourself or get fish to eat using it for bait!

Dats what I'm talking about!!!

Summer Camp


The last two years we stayed at a beach house that sat on the right edge of a large sand channel. The fishing was OK, not quite up to it’s expected potential, but, OK. Oama had showed up right out back the first year, but, didn’t the second. We eventually found them about quarter mile down the beach in a little cove.

This year, that house we rented wasn’t available so we had to search for another place. Judy eventually found one close by, in fact about quarter mile down the road. Hmmm, quarter mile? Which direction? Finally pictures confirmed what we hoped, it was right there at the cove that held the oama!

OK, OK, so it’s a beach house not really camping, but, hey we all paid our dues doing the hardcore camping out on the lava on the Big Island for many years, so, now that we’re old(er), we deserve some comfort. Besides, the women no like the hardcore stuff anymore and this the only way we can get to go fishing for one week!

Aug. 3, 2010 – 1700hrs. Finally there! The house is nice, decent kitchen, flat panel TV! We had come out a week ago to check out the grounds (ocean) so we knew what to expect there. We have some tako in the cooler to start with and plans to do a dive for more Wednesday or Thursday.

Aug. 4, 2010 – 0500hrs. Poles were quiet last night, only a few puhi. Looking forward to trying my new toy, a Daiwa XSHA50. Brought two rods to try it out with, my old Harrington home built and a Kimura Fenwick. They are two totally different rods so it should be interesting.

Aug. 4, 2010 – 0630hrs. Off down the road for a quick tako dive, tide is already on the rise so gotta get in the water quick. We pick up three pieces, I got two and Dean got one to add to the two he already had in the cooler. This is plenty, no sense taking more until we need them.

Aug. 4, 2010  – 1030hrs. Poles are quiet, bait fish eating our tako. Fugu action, dam it!! Swivel and lead coming back no hooks! Time to test cast the new reel. First up the Kimura with an eight ounce lead. OK, haven’t thrown a conventional much in the last 14 years (got married in 1996)so not expecting to see the lead disappear out into the horizon. Half cast to feel the combo, not bad feels OK. Three-quarter, oops little over-run, not too bad, wow the 8oz lead skipping in on the surface! Dam this thing is fast! OK, lets try crank’um! Frick! Backlash!! Boy do I need practice! My timing is totally off, gotta wait on it a little more. Couple of more casts and it’s getting better, but, dam I’m tired! Not in shape, the arms not used to this anymore, not to mention the age factor too! (Lets see what other kine excuses I get!) I never was an “out to the horizon” kinda guy, but, I was at least a decent caster, this is not good! Switch to the Harrington, heavier and slower action, not too promising….first cast not too bad, little overrun. Second cast, fricken backlash again! I feel old….After a rest I switch to a 6oz lead, first decent cast! Not that far but clean, straight no problems! OK nuff! Put one bait on toss’um out!

Aug. 5, 2010 – 0530hrs. Up for the dawn patrol!  Tide is low and the reef out to the right is partially exposed. Poles quiet again last night, only puhi and a bird that got tangled in Daniels line!

Aug. 5, 2010 – 0630hrs. Had coffee, sun is rising, going for a (careful) walk on the dry reef, maybe I’ll stumble over a tako!

Aug. 5, 2010 – 1030hrs. Tide is heavy on the rise, checking and recasting fresh baits in earnest. Quiet…frustrating, but, gotta keep working’um!

Aug. 6, 2010 – 0530hrs. Dawn patrol, no action again last night. Recast my rods, drinking coffee by myself, thinking, thinking, what to do, what to change……cannot give up. Jeff is supposed to come by today to check out the spot, these are his stomping grounds, hopefully he can break the ice!

Aug. 6, 2010 – 1030hrs. Jeff arrives, hand shakes all around. He’s surprised to hear our catch report (no catch report actually). He gets his line out, holy crap, 30+ beyond our lines! The conversation shifts to Jeffs high tech bait-casting rods. Beautiful, purpose built (by Jeff) custom rods! (Good thing the wife went to a doctors appointment, she’d be getting awful nervous about now!) He generously offers to let me mount my new reel on one of his rods to give it a try.  It takes a few casts to get into a rhythm, but, when I finally get a decent one, whoa, at least 20 (probably more) over my best cast with my rod! Amazing! Incredible power, the snap back was what I had to get used to, the first few casts it was leaving me way behind!

Aug. 7, 2010 – 1130hrs. Tide on the rise, recasting my kimura with my new Daiwa on it, fresh tako leg. Decent cast, set the drag, bell on. I walk back towards the house when my bell rings, come on, not again! The puhi and fugu are getting on my nerves! Wait a minute, this is different…wha’da’ya know, a small omilu! I don’t believe it!

Well, wanted to tag this one, but, braddah Dean ready fo cry ’cause “I neva eat Omilu sashimi long time!”Alright, alright, but, next one gotta release! Nothing like a little action to juice up da boys! Everybody hustling now!

Aug. 8, 2010 – 0600hrs. Two tohei another bird believe it or not and one cat! Judy the animal lover insists we get the hook out of the cats mouth. To me, it should be who ever left a baited hook lying around helping her, but, nobody talking. So what do I get for helping get the hook out? A dam bite on my right index finger! On top of dat, I was the only one who got up when the bird got tangled in Deans line at 1 am so I had to untangle  it myself and got bit by the dam bird too!!

Aug. 8, 2010 – 1830hrs. I wade into waist deep water getting blasted by waves with a 10ft. extension pole and get one oama! That’s right ONE!! Ain’t nobody gonna tell me I never tried hard enough to get more fish in the cooler! So, I throw out the oama and what I get? Fugu strike!! One friken oama and one Fugu eat’um!! Drink beer tonight…

Aug. 9, 2010 – 0630hrs. Missed the dawn patrol for the first time this trip, too much beer last night!

Aug. 9, 2010 – 1100hrs. I decide to hump some of my gear down the beach to a sand channel Jeff was eyeing up when he dropped by Friday. Tide is rising, we’ll see!  Two and a half hours, checking bait every 20 minutes, nutin…..at least one nice young  lady when come sunbathe nearby so it helped past the time.

It don't get much better than this!!

Aug. 10, 2010 – 0700hrs. Pack up day, gotta be out by 1100hrs. I look out at Dean and he’s working his rod like he get something on! “What? Get something Dean?” “I think so!” not too positive the answer!  I go out there and the line is off to side and pulling, might be a fish! Sliver!! Ooooo, one good size white papio!! Well, better late than never! Still two papio in one week? Not too good…..

8 pounds, not ulua, but, Deans still a happy camper!