a visit from clay.

hey peeps. long time no blog. i know you guys miss me (not), so i thought iíd check in and say howdy. for those not in the know, i moved to the northwest in august of this year after living in hawaii for all of my forty four years here on earth. i have been thinking about moving to the nw for some time now. hawaii has changed a ton over the years and, to me, not all for the better. traffic has gone from ridiculous to absolute uber-ridics and almost unavoidable no matter how you set up your daily schedule. on oahu there are now four costcos, three home depots, three k marts, three walmarts, two samís clubs, two lowes home improvement centers, and two targets. thatís a lot of big box for what, even as a child, seemed to me like a pretty small island. in addition there are several major shopping malls, though i have no idea what are in them anymore as i have not been to one for many years (i hear the woolworth at ala moana is no longer there). not to mention a rail project that... well letís just say gooooood luck with that one.

but i am all for "give the people what they want" so if that is what the people of hawaii want then so be it. i have always said that if you donít like something donít complain, just do something about it. that is exactly what i had always planned to do and have now done. reconnecting with the love of my life who i dated in the eleventh grade (if you can believe that) and hadnít seen in twenty some odd years, just made my escape come a little sooner, a little further north, and much easier, than i had anticipated. i am now very happily living a life of obscure anonymity, just the way i like it. i gotta say, it is pretty sweet! hopefully that is enough about what is going on with me to satisfy the "niele" inquiring minds out there. the shop is in the, probably more capable and certainly more mature, hands of sean. my role has become making seanís life as miserable as i possibly can from far away. i think i am doing a pretty good job so far, but you can drop into the shop and ask him about that yourself.

a couple of weeks ago i snuck back into the islands for a brief visit. my return was mainly to take care of some business and spend some q.t. with my gf, family, and close friends. while there i also loaded up on some local grindz (food) which is still the best food on the planet to me (special thanks new eagle cafe, le bistro, mw restaurant, camellia buffet, lunch box kitchen of hawaii, en fuego hawaii, youngís kal bee, shiroís saimin haven, liliha bakery, roast duck kitchen, and kabuki restaurant and delicatessen). yeah it was A LOT of eating. i never ate at that many places even while living there. in the midst of this carnage, i did get a chance to get out on the water for a couple hours to revisit my beloved hawaiian ocean and boneys.

despite the tremendous increase in popularity of fly fishing for bonefish in hawaii since i first opened the shop back in 1999, i still have places to fish in my back pocket where i can get out on the water and be completely alone. some of these places are unknown to most, others are not popular because they generally donít produce that much fish or are very tricky to fish well, and others are simply just too sketchy to fish for those not comfortable with being in the ocean. many of my "spots for solitude" on the island are also bombing or "blind" casting spots and are not frequented by the majority of fly fishers who rather sight fish for bones. over the years i have come to appreciate these "nobody likes to go to" spots because they take me back to when fishing for bones in hawaii with a fly rod was just me, the bonefish, and the ocean that i grew up in. people often ask me why i opened the shop in the first place. i tell them it is because i wanted to bring fly fishing to hawaii and share the life changing experiences the sport has given me with others. honestly, though, i opened the shop because at the time i really had nothing better to do. so i thought, "why not?" oh well sometimes like that.

anyway, like i said i did get out for a little while one late afternoon. i dug out my sage 6126-4 one two handed rod, abel switch reel, some running line and a rio 390gr.scandi head from the mountains of gear i had packed away before i moved. i attached a 10ft airflo poly leader and found some tippet and a few flies and headed for the water. i wouldnít say that i was really jonesing to be back fishing for bones again. i have done this so many times in the last twenty years that it still seemed pretty routine. it wasnít until i actually took a step into the water and felt the warm pacific envelope me that i really remembered what drew me out there day after day for so many years. it reminded me of the truly good part of this fly fishing stuff.

the sage 6126-4 one, a perfect bombing tool.

as i waded out, i felt the familiar sensations of the trade wind and the changing tide currents swirling around me. on the way out i spotted a number of bones feeding in shallows (always a good sign). the water was just deep enough that their tails never broke the surface. i decided not to go through the awkward dance of trying to sight fish with a twelve and half foot two handed rod set up. instead i just watched them peacefully rummage around the reef for a while. it is quite a mesmerizing sight and i could have just stood there forever. my time, as always is the case in life, was limited. i broke out of my trance and headed for the deeper waters that i wanted to fish.

i started out with a modified snap t or still water snap. the fly, tippet, poly leader, head system shot out around seventy five feet or so right over a subtle drop off in the reef. i let the fly sink and began to strip it in.

strip, strip, pause, bump. strip set...

"you bastard!" i thought, knowing that i had just missed one. iím not sure if that comment was aimed at the fish or me. thatís okay, i reassured myself, sometimes they come back.

strip. strip. bump... strip set. gotcha! the fish wiggled around for a moment then took off in normal bonefish fashion. it was just a little rat but, hey, always good when you get one on the first cast. i released that fish then proceeded to get into the rhythm of bombing making longer and different kinds of casts to cover various fishy areas in the deep reef before me. fly fishing, to me, has always been about the cast. that is what distinguishes it from other methods of fishing. that is what makes it so fun. nothing else comes close to the feeling of a well made fly cast.

one cast, one fish. not a bad start.

it was pretty windy that day and at one point i also got pounded by a passing heavy rain shower but i was in my element and it was another great day on the water. the fish were apparently glad to see me back in the water too which was a nice bonus.

sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains.

from my brief time out on the water, i guess i would say that the fish this fall are "biting up". they must be if a jamoke from the great northwest can just show up and conk a bunch of fish in a couple of hours on the water. you better get in on it while the gettingís still good. i probably WONíT see you on the water.

the sage 6126-4 bent again...

and another rat.

as those who fish bones know when the fish are on...

they are on!

soon the afternoon began turning to evening. the sea became very angry as the wind gave itís final hard blow before settling down for the day.

still the bite remained pretty steady throughout.

before i knew it, my time was up. i hooked one more because, you know, you gotta end on a fish. i then reeled up headed for shore leaving the reefs and my life in hawaii behind me in the darkness.

well thatís it for now. iím not sure when i will be back again, but whenever that is i hope that the waters, reefs, and bones will be there right where i left them. you guys behave yourselves. i will check in again later.

hehe... good times.


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