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fly fishing no cal and bonefishing hawaii:
more golden gate casting club ponds and aloha friday deano.
went back to s.f. to get another few hours in of two handed casting practice. the golden gate casting ponds are like a mecca of fly fishing to those who love the cast and being so near to it for the first time, once was just not enough for me. i started casting and this dude mike rolled up on his bike. we began talking and soon casting my beulah switches (that’s how it happens down there… very cool scene). mike, like so many who frequent the park, knew his way around a spey rod. he introduced me to his buddy bert. bert was all about long rods and full spey lines. he was nice enough to take some time to give a newbie some valuable spey lessons. we casted both a temple fork deercreek rod as well as a pro series rod.
bert had learned to spey cast from many of the top guns in the spey community, but kept it all very simple and put the whole spey thing in perspective with easy to understand analogies. the few hours i spent with him made me a lot better. more importantly, it gave me a solid foundation and direction that i was desperately seeking. this solid start, that i can now really begin to build on, is so critical to fly casting either single or double hand.
tip for beginners, if you start out any kind of fly casting with bad habits and make them a part of your cast, it will be harder in the long run to get rid of those bad habits to get really good. this is especially evident in the fly casters i encounter on the water in hawaii. it’s just like a golf swing. you can get okay with a bad swing but you’ll never be able to take it to the next level with a swing riddled with “bad habits” (right mitchell?). because there aren’t a lot of really good casters here (well “there” for me right now), i see many self taught casters that get to a “fishable” cast in our waters and conditions that don’t possess or even understand a proper basic fly cast. so if you’re starting out be sure to focus on your cast more than how to catch fish in the beginning. getting a proper start is key to becoming a great caster and ultimately catch more fish in more situations and more places. i wish we had a casting pool somewhere on the island… well one can dream can’t he?
on another note, deano checked in with some pics from friday. deano is one of the few guys that started fly fishing in hawaii that, over the years, has really focused on his fly casting and it is quite evident when you watch him cast. anyway, in classic deano fashion, he forgot his fishing shirt and wore his work aloha shirt out at hickam. he fished his trusty twelve foot bamboo rod and managed to conk three bones. (deano, the guys up here think you’re crazy fishing that thing in the salt for bones… i had to explain to them that we’re pretty limited out there in hawaii and have to do what ever we can to keep it new and fresh.) i wish i was there for “casual friday” is that going to be a tradition now? if it is, i’m totally down.
fly casters mecca.
thanks for casting and hanging with me mike, very impressive. also thanks for introducing me to bert. get out to hawaii bro and i’ll hook you up for sure.
bert is one of the “big fish” that can be found at this small pond. thanks bert for taking the time to give me a good foundation and direction… i think i’m going to owe my entire spey career to you my man.
meanwhile back in the hi , deano holds down the fort in style until i get back. well that’s all the what’s what. from ca and soon in the or...good times.
fly fishing no cal:
a day with chris a.
spent the entire day today hanging out with my no cal bud chris a. from the california fly shop. yesterday i rolled down to the shop to check it out and see chris. the shop is amazing sporting a fish tank with a nice two and a half pound peacock bass, a giant permit mount, racks of rods to die for and a vast field of flies. located in san carlos, definitely check out chris if you’re ever in the area, he’s got the bay area and beyond dialed in.
we started out the day fishing a small creek. this was chris’s homewater and where he started out fly fishing. it’s always cool to see and fish with guys on their homewater. we fished a sage txl double ought rod with an appropriate sized galvan reel. the fly du jour was a dark montana prince. the water was extremely low (lower than chris had ever seen it) but we hiked around and found some small, but fishable riffles that lead into tiny pools. we leapfrogged pools. i would watch him masterfully pic apart a piece of water, complimenting his good casts and (of course) ragging on him when an errant cast found an overhanging branch. he did the same when it was my turn to masterfully butcher my water. fortunately, for me, chris held his tongue quite well when it was my turn. it was quite a shocking transition going from bombing the vast hawaii bonefish flat to roll casting a double ought trying to figure out how to dissect water no bigger than a king sized bed. despite the drought condition waters, chris managed to get a number of hand sized trout out of the pools he fished. i managed to get one nice little guy and missed the subtle “dink” of a bunch of others. super light tackle, super cool fun.
we rolled into the city (san francisco) and had some wicked thai food on haight street before heading to the golden gate casting club ponds to hook up with some of chris’s boys. we rigged up the two handers and took to the ponds. i marveled at the level of casting these guys possessed. they were launching some impressive spey bombs. i got some much needed help and practice with my two handed casting. the scene there was very chill. we spent hours just hanging out and casting. i even reunited with a client of nwff that i had guided some six or seven years ago.
we ended the day with the boyz at the same thai restaurant that we had lunch at (don’t leave good food to find food). we talked hawaii bonefish and everything steelhead and spey. no better way to start off the trip. fished some cool water, got in some valuable casting practice, and met some great guys and new friends in the process. that, my peeps , is what it is all about…
chris gets ready to sneak attack a pool.
small water, small spooky fish.
chris launching some bombs at the golden gate casting ponds. thanks chris for the great day can't wait to fish with you again bro...good times.
the nwff crew invades ke’ehi
today the nwff crew invaded ke’ehi. included in this band of merry men was kirkstafarian, lost “p.j.” brian, sean “the boy”, deano and deano’s friend ken. we all piled into e.t.’s boat for a day of fun and relaxation on the flats chasing around the hawaii bonefish. the day was sunny, the tide was good, and with this crazy bunch of characters, a great fun day was inevitable.
we fished it hard but it turned out to be a pretty tough day of fishing. lost brian and ken were using their new beulah switch rods. brian hooked two bones but lost them both. deano hooked one and lost it too (the reef was unkind to both of them). e.t. hooked four and lost all but one (note for beginners: weed guards can also sometimes turn out to be fish mouth guards as well). kirk summoned one up. i, as usual, hung back to see where everyone was headed off to. i then went off to another part of the flat and managed to stick one with a beulah 7/8 surf rod and a “found” fly. a barred jack by deano and some other cuda’s and stuff round out the report.
so some damage was done. not a real strong bite, but we got some good ones. that’s fishing in hawaii. everyday is different and, as i always say, sometimes like that. it may be gangbusters tomorrow but you can only fish the hand you’re dealt. we pounded until everyone was beat down and wondering when we were going to leave. i think there was a big sigh of relief from most when everyone started back toward the boat from their respective locations on the flat. we were out there for quite a while and the fishing wasn’t getting any better. but, you never really know unless you go, so rack up another day on the water for the nwff crew.
so lost brian shows up on the flat with his camo “pajamas”… we shouldn’t tease though, brian’s got more fashion sense than all of us more “earthy” or should i say “hoboey” guys put together.
who’s sneaking up on me at my “secret” spot… i thought i was alone.
actually it’s a good thing kirksta was close by or the photos would not have been so nice. thanks kirk, you always got my back bro. the tail hang.
e.t.’s fatty. just another day on the flat for e.t.
thanks to all the nwff crew for the laughs and comradery… love the fishing and everyday on the water is the best ever. well, that's all she wrote... the flat's jawa is off to no cal and oregon. will it succeed, stay tuned and find out. good times.
hawaii bonefish and beyond:
nwff crew and the things they do
wow the weeks go by so fast these days so here’s some of the assorted goings ons with the nwff crew.
on monday nankos mike took advantage of the hot, muggy, kona wind day to get out on k bay with his five weight st. croix legend ultra. <he managed a couple of nice rats... super good fun on a five wt.
sean got beat down by flu like symptoms... scarily common these days for some reason. he appears to be back to good just in time for our weekend adventures.
surfa boy craig checked in with a photo, he’s been doing his thang in so cal for the past week or so.
deano got out a couple of times and did his part to build our little fly community in hawaii by showing ken and... well ken...ken and ken the two handed way around hickam (no report yet).
e.t. has been fishing the past several days with friends of the shop wataru and his son from japan and getting them hooked up on some hawaii bonefish action. at last report, they got the hawaii grand slam of sorts. bonefish, barred jack, fugu (puffer), and barracuda.
also (for those of you who remember him) kevin checked in. for those of you who don’t know the k, kevin was one of the original pioneers of bonefishing in hawaii. i met kevin soon after opening the shop and together we spent countless days on the water all over the hawaiian islands scouting and trying to bring fly fishing to hawaii. tough work when there's no one else doing it and many telling you that you can't. without kevin's passion and expertise, fly fishing in hawaii may have faded into obscurity as it has several times in the past. almost everyone that fishes for bonefish in hawaii today can be traced back to kevin and his work on the water, in one way or another. kevin doesn’t fish as much since moving to new orleans. always a cutting edge artist, kev has set up a little biz of his own up there. check it out at www.greenheronwoodworks.com. some cool stuff.
as for me, i’ve been getting ready for my trip to no cal and oregon next week and horsing around (mostly the latter). spent monday and tuesday in the shop. went to the north shore with a friend for some romy’s shrimp (they were out or prawns) on wednesday. spent thursday morning working out some of the kinks in nwff customer mitchell’s cast. you’re on your way to being awesome bro! we then fished the fast rising tide, we both hooked fish and lost them both. i lost mine because of a lazy knot. i was out to test some new flies and had gone through a dozen or so different flies. using each for about five to ten minutes just to see how they fished. so toward the end i wasn’t really tying “guide quality” knots. i knew i was going to change the fly soon. i was up against the tide and wanted to wet as many “new” creations as i could. i was a little bummed about mitchell losing his fish, though... i don’t know why that happened, but he’s a pretty mellow guy and took it in stride.
nankos mike and the five take advantage of the kona winds.
craig sends this pic of a lake irvine blueg. what’s going on up there bro!
an an invasive species has been found on the north shore of oahu that threatens to wipe out all the shrimp in kahuku. it can be identified by its one fork like claw and one chopstick like claw... if you see this invasive species kill it immediately. it’s been known to spread by clinging to the shotgun seat of north bound vehicles so anyone headed that way is advised to carefully check the passenger seats of their cars before leaving the downtown area. thanks mini. good times.<
freshwater and bonefishing hawaii:
lake report and the d blog
spent a nice casual day on the lake with bonefish guide extradonaire e.t. the fishing was a little tough by lake standards. it seems like the fish are not yet completely adjusted to the lake water level. the visibility was okay but not great at most places. there was a big school of fish busting sporadically by miki miki flat. perhaps they were busting better in the early morning but we didn’t get out there until ten thirty or eleven. e.t. and i fished some new flies that i tied up earlier and managed to bang out a couple of tucs from the tough bust and a bunch of red devils. even the devil fishing was pretty slow by red devil sight fishing standards anyway. we still got a bunch of them it just took a little more effort and looking. we also saw peacocks guarding their fry. e.t. hooked a five inch cichlid that got eaten by a big peacock. he fought it for a while before the fish spit out the cichlid. then another peacock (or maybe the same one) ate the same beat up cichlid. a nice little flurry of action. e.t. eventually ended up losing all of my new flies (gotta practice those light tippet knots e.t.). it was just good fun all around.
on the hawaii bonefishing front check out deano’s bamboo blog for the latest on his bamboo spey adventures. i’ll be leaving for no cal and oregon soon. hopefully i’ll be able to blog from there... i'm a walking technical difficulty, ya know. we shall see.
nwff guide e.t. takes a break from the bonefish grind with a four weight on the lake.
nice two pounder from the tough bust.
beadhead ice wing fiber streamers.
last fish of the day. a perfect creamsicle or should i say creamsiclelid. as is always the case with e.t. good fishing and good times.
deano and the “bamb”
so this evening i went out to hickam with deano for a couple of hours of two handed casting practice. deano brought this 12’ sharpes 8/9 bamboo spey rod. because i knew he was going to fish the “bamb”, i brought my 12’ 6” sage z-axis spey rod to make it a full on spey practice session. we got out there at about five. the wind was light which helped with the spey cast practice. i got out to a spot about sixty yards away from deano and started casting (or trying to at least, it was not a good spey casting day for me). suddenly i heard the unmistakable sound of a classic click and pawl drag system. i looked over to see deano hooked up. i rushed over to snap some shots of deano and the bamb. it was totally cool. we fished a little bit more. the “loving feeling” wasn’t on the flat this evening so we called it before the sun went down. no better way to end a day than an hour or so on the water.
the father of two handed rods in hawaii. pioneer deano hooks a hawaii bonefish with the 'bamb".
love the old skool! fly fishing is not about what you catch... it's all about how you catch it. thanks yet again deano. good times.
the original clay-mantis
okay so here is the original clay-mantis pattern. i just started tying and using it again after a long hiatus. sometimes it's good to stop and make a nod to where we've been before we keep progressing foreward. i thought i blogged about this fly somewhere but i couldn't find it. sean (the real boss) said i should bring this pattern back so here goes.
the mantis shrimp is one of the first critters that beginning flats fishers notice when fly fishing the flats around hawaii. i was no different. i spent many hours early in my bonefishing in hawaii career marveling at these quick little guys scurrying about the rubble and weeds. naturally i tried tying patterns that resembled them, but when i looked around at the so called “mantis” patterns that existed at the time, they all seemed to look more like a regular shrimp to me. so i set out to create a pattern that would better imitate this alien critter that is an important food source for the bonefish of hawaii. did i succeed? well that depends on how you measure the success of a fly. i came up with a pattern that slaughterhoused bones over the years and got many of my clients their first (and sometimes biggest) bonefish in hawaii. whether all those fish ate because they thought that the fly was a mantis shrimp is still, as of this blog, unconfirmed.
this was the original version and actually one of the first flies i tied specifically for hawaii bonefish. i came up with it around 1995. i borrowed some attributes of some crayfish patterns, other bonefish flies, and of course the wooly bugger and i threw them all together. the original one was olive but i also tied a brownish tan version. i wanted the patterns overall shape and movement to more closely mimic the mantis that i saw out there. the original clay-mantis is not hard to tie but it is a bit more involved than the other patterns i’ve blogged about. i'd say it's more tedious rather than difficult.
some of my early clients may remember having this thing tied to the end of their tippet. i used it alot when we first started guiding. back then we still had many “non beleiver” clients who went out with us half thinking that kev or i were just taking them on a snipe hunt. having the guide tie on this ugly thing probably didn't help the cause either. the bones that were caught with the clay-mantis sure did though. anyway, over the years i moved on to other patterns and the original clay mantis kind of disappeared. that is until now... it’s back.
hook: standard saltwater hook (mustad 3407, 34007, tmc 811 etc.) size 2
thread:danville flo orange
eyes: beadchain, brass, or lead depending on the conditions (because it is a bigger, fuller fly i usually use lead to sink it)
tail: flo orange SLF hank fibers
body: variegated tinsel chenille (olive with gold flash) and olive estaz
hackle: olive grizzly hen saddle or olive strung saddle
ribbing: black ultra wire brassie size
wing: olive craft fur
legs: barred orange sili legs
you know what this is... tie in them eyes. leave a fair amount of space between the dumbell eye and the hook eye. this fly should have a rather big head on it.
tie in a hunk of the slf fiber to the hook bend for the tail.
tie in the variegated tinsel chenille at the bend and advance the thread foreward to just a little past the point of the hook.
wrap the chenille forward. this should take about four wraps of chenille. tie off the chenille and trim. so far no big deal.
tie in a piece of black ultra wire and a hen saddle or saddle hackle by the tip.
now tie in a piece of olive estaz. wrap the estaz forward and tie off behind the eye. still with me? hang in there we’re about half way there.
palmer the hackle through the estazed portion of the fly. this should only take a few turns. tie that off behind the dumbell eye as well.
at this point the whole shebang should look a little something like this. note the wire is still just hanging out chillin.
flip hook over and advance thread to the hook eye. tie in two strands of krystal flash at the halfway point of the pieces of flash. fold back and tie down.
tie in a bunch of craft fur that is about one and a half times the length of the hook.
now hold the wing tight and rib the ultra wire forward. it helps to wiggle the wire back and forth to get between the hackle barbs and not bind them down too much. make three wraps of ribbing and a couple of wraps of wire in front of the eye. cover the wire wraps in front of the eye with thread. it should look like the photo.
tie in a barred orange sili leg on each side of the head. don’t worry too much about completely covering the sili legs and making a solid thread head. just make sure the legs are secure. i think the sili leg showing through makes a more mottled, bumpy looking head rather than a smooth solid orange head. also by now your thread head is (and should be for this fly anyway) pretty big. if you tried to cover up all of the sili legs, you would probably end up with a head the size of a fist.
now just trim the tail to taper to the wing, add cement (i run cement through the ribbed part of the wing in addition to the head. fin.
this was one of the first flies that these hawaii bonefish had ever seen on a regular basis. it has fooled countless bonefish for me and many others... i hope it does just as well for you too.
mantissy... at least to me. what the bones think, i have no idea. they’re pretty tight lipped about those kinds of specifics. good times.
kids need to fish too:
maddie, bennet, and u.c.
just got some pics (thanks donna) from when i took my nephew and cousin’s family out on the lake (7/28/09). the water had just come up and the fishing was pretty shtanky, but as usual, the kids teach us all a valuable lesson...
...a day on the water is only as fun and productive as you make it. love the fishing and it will love you back. good times.
finding your own thang
kirk, another of the nwff crew, and i planned to check out what was going on at lake wilson today. i haven’t been up there in a while and was curious as to what all was going on at the ole fishin’ hole. i charged the battery on my boat and tied up some new and exciting (new, not all that exciting) streamers to fish the lake... then i got the call. it was deano and he wanted to know if i wanted to go with him to hickam. i was about to tell him that i was going to the lake when i remembered kirk saying that he had never been to hickam. another quick phone call to kirk and it was set, hickam would be the plan.
we got out at around ten and saw that there were a few other fly dudes already out. the day turned out to be a gorgeous hawaii summer day with no hint of huricane felicia at all. the light was great but we walked around quite a bit without seeng much. deano and i showed kirk around the flat, but the fish just weren’t around... sometimes like that.
we walked to one end of the flat and i began to practice my two handed casts. as the tide rose i saw a couple of fish. one i hit on the head and it spooked straight away. the other i saw when i glanced up while getting out a new fly. it's funny how those things always seem to happen. i hooked a small bonefish and lost it while dragging the fish (with my rod on my head and the fish trolling behind) over to where kirk was to get a photo.
i told kirk to fish where i was fishing and he did. deano and i hung back and watched him for a while. we casted each others rods and deano tried to sabotage me by putting wind knots in my leader (thanks deano). kirk pounded for quite a while but didn’t get bit there.
we then moved over to the other side of the flat. on the way we still didn't see anything except a couple of awa's or milkfish (a.k.a twenty pound world class hawaii bonefish) the tide was pushing and i hooked another small bonefish. while i was fooling around taking pictures with that bonefish, deano hooked another one. i put kirk on the place where i was seeing fish and he didn’t get bit then we put kirk on the spot where deano got bit and still nothing. i stayed with kirk for a little while then slowly made my way out from him. kirk started moving too and i saw him go on his own line toward shore. i fished a bit more then i happened to glance back at kirk... and his rod was bent! i watched him fight the fish and made my way over to him. it turned out to be the fish of the day. a nice fatty hawaii bonefish. i went back out and hooked one more fish before we called it. we ended the day relaxing in the shade and discussing the days events over some mr. gyros (big fish doesn’t have to buy lunch with us, but thanks anyway kirksta).
as deano and i always say, you can’t just copy others and just try to do what they do and expect to get good. you gotta go out and do things on your own and find your own groove. kirk’s first time out to hickam paid off not from the places and ways deano and i told him to fish nor fishing where we hooked fish. instead, it came from kirk just following his own fish sense (and this guy is super “fishy”). it took kirk taking in this “new to him” area and finding his rhythm with the ocean, the surroundings, the flat, and ultimately the fish. it had nothing to do with any help that deano or i tried to give him. kirk just took in what we showed him, fished hard, and found his own thang... all seven or so pounds of it.
deano enjoys the day with the beautiful waianae mountain range in the distance.
deano hooked up switch.
yet another hickam football falls for mr. hickam's antics.
the reef special... nuff said.
another deano bonefish... very carpy.
kirkstafarian gets on track, feels the vibe, and finds his thang. nice!
the nwff crew just does what we gotta do. thanks deano and kirk for the laughs and another memorable day in the books. good times.
not much to report. i fished with coach duff and this dude nick today at hickam. the morning was pretty cloudy and tough to see, but even when i could there wasn’t much around for reasons only our lady of good bonefishing knows. i saw a total of three fish and two of them were the two rats that i hooked bombing. i fished the trusty beulah 6/7 switch and a size two reef special.<
it was a big tide that did not disappoint. for the peeps that don’t know, the big tides coincide with the full and new moon cycles and here in hawaii it usually means a half day bonefishing at best. sometimes when the “big hump” (what we call the higher of the two tides on these kinds of days) is in the middle of the day you can fish the morning rise and evening fall. for the most part it’s a half day tide at least for sight fishing bonefish. when the “big hump” is at night or early morning before sunrise, it is possible to fish the smaller hump all day. however, don’t be surprised if you don’t see many fish or the ones you do see are “closed mouth”. this tide can be a toughy... or it can also be good. i don’t really know... it just seems like its tougher more often than not to me. the only thing that i know for sure is that in hawaii, you never know unless you go and the best time to fish is whenever you can.
anyway we called it when the tide got good and up and ended the day with some gyros from “mr. gyros” (thanks duff). felicia may be on her way and she’s looking pretty gnarly so get your cracks in while you can. hopefully we’ll all be able to fish this weekend in something a notch less than hurricane winds.
the guys were far away from me so i had to get the best shots i could... hey i warned you about my photography skills from blog one.
bonefish, ladyfish, and trevally fly fishing in <hawaii:
living “the boy’s” adventure tale
for those of you who wonder what the boy (sean, who as those in the know know is the real boss) does on those rare occasions that he’s not in the shop helping others get hawaii fly bit. he’s usually out somewhere with the nankos crew fishing the “less popular” places and this past sunday and monday was no exception.
for a long time sean has wanted to catch an awa ‘aua (hawaiian ladyfish) on the fly. he was still doing a lot of bonefishing back then and i told him that if he really wanted to catch something he had to go specifically for it and just pound. so we did a few times with no results and more recently e.t. took him out again several times but it just didn’t happen. in between he patiently listened to assorted nwff crew and other customers regale tales of catching the "on the fly lady" which for years had eluded him. there was no real reason why he didn’t get one just not in the cards. everyone has those monkeys on their back. even i have a list that i’d like to get to before i meet the maker. i can think of three right off the bat and those who know me probably know which three i’m talking about. that’s all part of the whole fly adventure and it is different for everyone. that’s why i titled this blog entry after that a-ha song (probably none of you got that... but if you did, cool).
so back to the story. sean and the nankos crew went out to k bay on sunday to catch papio (trevally). they got a few bluefin and whiteys but, more importantly sean got his awa ‘aua. when he sent me the pics of the day the accompanying email started off like this, “Yo. The boy finally caught an awa ‘aua on his fly rod. Yay.” he got it throwing a blue crease fly(www.umpqua.com/pc-58-29-crease-fly-blados.aspx) on his seven weight sage (www.sageflyfish.com).
yesterday, lost brian joined the fracus and the boyz went out again this time for bones. the fishing was kind of tough but nankos mike got a good size hawaii bonefish and, according to sean, they all had fun.
sean gets his elusive hawaiian lady. look at that smile...i know the feeling, way to go bro. for your achievement you get the gigantor blog pic of the day.
a pair of jacks...sweet.
the nankos crew pounded into the dark.
the next day...
nankos mike makes this hawaii fly fishing bonefish shtuff look easy. good times.
"Nervous Water Fly Fishers- your guide to fly fishing in Hawaii"