I talk about the core group of guys that cut our Ulua fishing teeth together all those years ago quite often. After much mis-adventure which included what seemed to us anyway, an inordinate amount of missed opportunities to catch fish of our dreams we took comfort in making a little fun of ourselves. It certainly wasn’t for lack of strikes as we experienced a fair share of those. We just wern’t able to capitalize on many of them. At times it felt like we were cursed, that the fishing gods were determined to show us every possible way to lose a hooked fish.

A couple of clubs on Oahu at the time were Atlapac and the Pacific Casting Club, taking the “Pac” theme from those club names we decided to call ourselves the Zee Pac Casting Club. Never truly formalized as an official club it was basically just us making fun of our own misfortunes. Given the number of times we had experienced the dreaded strike (Zeeeee!) and resulting breaking of our lines (Pac!!) Zee Pac seemed an appropriate name for us.

Fast foward to the present, we recently re-united with one of the original Zee Pac members Keith and when Dean came to town we decided fishing together would be a good chance for us to really reconnect and reminisce about the early days of the Zee Pac.

After securing a spot where we could overnight without getting hassled the plan was in gear! Just like the old days a tent, our gear and a cooler of bevera….um….bait! We were ready once again for fishing adventure!!

Adventure……..well, three old farts humping fishing and camping gear over a couple of hundred yards of sand was, in its self, quite the adventure! More squeaks and groans then a 30 year old Yugo going over speed bumps in a K-Mart parking lot!

One thing we were always pretty good at was rigging up a mean tent! Well, the weather report was predicting 25mph gusts and a 50% chance of rain so, we had our work cut out for us! What the heck were we thinking?

After about an hour, there it was! The little three-man (more like three-munchkin) tent and a strong wind-break to protect it! See, we know what we doing! On to the fishing.

We had done some diving here before so knew there were a good amount of baitfish to be had. Of course there was also a week old frozen tako in the cooler too. Dean and I set off down the beach with our small spin outfits rigged with floater set ups. Soon we had some lively hinalea lauwili in our live bait bucket.

The low tide had swung its way through and the waves picked up a touch as the rise began. An 18 inch snowflake eel was the first to bite one of our live hinalea baits. We put it out of its misery and set it aside for later. If we were sliding it would be one bait, but, since we were baitcasting it would be three.

Late afternoon, Keiths new Nitro takes a solid strike, it doesn’t seem too big, but, takes a few good rips straight out then turns. Oh oh…..line’s hung up….can’t tell if it’s gone or not. It’s cold and windy, but, why not, Keiths first strike on his new rod, I strip down to my surfshorts and jump in the water. I follow the line out to where I can feel it stuck and pull carefully away from the obstruction, it’s free, but, the line is cut off…

Zee Pac!

Disappointed, naturally, but, encouraged by the strike early in the rise we all get busy working our poles!  My hinalea comes back strong and lively so I toss it back out to give it another go while I prep the snowflake eel. I cut the head off leaving about another 5 inches or so of the body attached. The fillets are left attached to the head, but, cut away from the spine which is left in place, cracked once or twice to release some smell and the entrails hang from the head also.

After dinner the tide is really moving now, time for the puhi! Being that we had to hump all our gear out to the spot all I brought was my Rainshadow baitcaster, a 1567F Rainshadow blank the good folks at 5O7S (5 Oceans 7 Seas) were nice enough to special order for me. A step down from the 1569F which is the heaviest they make, the 1567F still has impressive power and very light weight. My return to fishing with conventionals has admittedly been a little rough, too much spinner fishing may have taken me out of rhythm, so, lately I have been leaving the spinner home to force myself to work on my casting. It’s finally starting to work and I am casting with much more consistency and adequate distance. Didn’t bring the big stuff so had to search for a bigger hook among my baitcasting stuff. I find a pack of complimentary hooks from Bruddah Bill at Ewa Beach Buy & Sell, they look like about size 26 or 28. Perfect!!

I get a decent cast out and set the rod in the spike for the wait. I stop for a second to think back to years ago when I lost a 540 Sabre with a Black Marlin 6’o on it out to sea on a vicious strike, gotta tie the rod down. I find a strong two foot section of driftwood, tie my safety cord to it and bury it two feet deep in the sand. All set!

10:30pm just starting to fade off to sleep…..calang calang….zeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! I shine my light down the beach and the Rainshadow is bent way over pointing out to sea the safety cord is a tightrope!! I get there unclip the safety cord and pick up the rod. It’s pulling hard, but, feels manageable, it’s still taking line then stops I get a couple of pumps in then it goes again, then, gone…….

Zee Pac…….

01:30am I’m dreaming about the strike all over again…no…wait!! ZEEEE……EEEEEEEEEEEE…..EEEEEE!! Another strike!! I pop up and shine down the beach again…the rainshadow is at full arch again!!! I finally get there and the line is still ripping! I unclip the safety cord and just stand there holding the rod and watch the line peel. It finally stops I pick up the rod and try to start working it…”wha da hell?” I was so pumped up I had pulled the spike right out of the sand with the rod! Dean shows up and helps me get the spike off, it’s running again….it’s way out there now! It stops again and I try to lean on it, it doesn’t budge. Another run, all I can do is hang on. I’m loving the Rainshadow though, it’s standing up well, not noodling out. Finally I lean back on it and get some line, then it takes it all and more back. This goes on for another 20 minutes or so, back and forth. Gain some lose some, now I’m gaining more than its taking so the reel is finally filling back up. Suddenly it stops the side to side and turns straight out and makes another run.

Zee Pac…..

I curse myself for not leadering up this rig before leaving home. At my age I wonder how many more opportunities like this are going to come my way. Complacency, it’ll get you every time! I should know better….next time…when the Zee Pac rides again!!