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bonefishing hawaii:

the weekend games


i spent a very pleasant friday evening at hickam fishing the pau hana (finish work) session with deano.  although the tide was way up and the fish were not around, it was another fun evening with dean and more practice with the switch rods.  still far from, but hopefully a couple hours closer to, the perfect cast.


heard from deano and e.t. that they ran into each other on the flat on saturday... you can check that whole story out on deano’s blog, http://bonefished.blogspot.com .  deano’s one of the best fly fishers in hawaii and e.t. is... well he's e.t.!  deano posts some pretty cool stuff online.  he’s a bit more technologically advanced than this old goat.  anyway deano finally got a switch rod into e.t.’s hands and we may have another believer... we’ll see.


so today rolls around and i went out to hi kai with surfer boy craig... this guys got the bug for sure, before he would have never called me to fish during a bombing south swell.  now the guy will walk around with switch rod in hand while wicked sets roll in on the outside.  the day was a typical beautiful hawaii summer day and there was no shortage of people out enjoying it (how can you blame them?).  there were kayakers, paddle boarders, swimmers, surfers, dunkers, divers and even a little boat taking kids for a ride.  all out having fun and taking advantage of what we all endure the high cost of living for.  the tide was good and there were some fish around but they were very skittish, perhaps because of the activity on the water or maybe because the wind had dropped a notch.


we took our time moving slowly across the reef taking shots at fish when the opportunity arose.  craig managed to get a bonefish on a small pink crazy charlie like fly.  it was a good fish that fought bigger than it’s size.  i, on the other hand, made more poor shots than i normally make and pretty much got what i deserved (big bolos).  i was stoked for craig as i could tell from the first fish i made a “good” presentation to that it was going to be one of those one or none tester days and i wouldn’t have been surprised at all if we didn’t catch any of the fish we were seeing.  i like these types of days on the water best as these are the days when the stakes of the game are the highest.  the difference between one and none can be as small as one errant cast.  it makes me concentrate harder and dig deeper into the bag of tricks and if you don’t bring your “a” game... well we all know the ending of that story.  anyway in the game of hawaii bonefish, you can’t win them all, you can only work hard to win most.  the saving grace is that if you truely love the sport of fly fishing, you’ll never go home a loser.


craig brought his “a” game and got this guy to fall for a pink charlie like fly.


releasing the day’s trophy.


he’s all right and ready to take on the next challenger...  who’s next?







bonefishing hawaii & fly fishing across the sea:

the day after...


oddly enough while craig, e.t., and i were chillin’ at the shop yesterday, craig’s friend tom from oakley showed up.  tom had some time to fish before he left today so the boyz decided to hit it again this morning.  i politely excused myself from another dawn patrol session by saying , “no @%#&’in way!” 


so they went out today again and from what i’ve heard the results were quite similar.  tom got his farewell for now bonefish and the other guys got their usual fill of bonefish on the falling tide.  they were out of the water by noon as tom had to dig out for the mainland and poor craig had to go to work this evening. e.t. the energizer bonefish guy that he is hooked up with kai and fished the afternoon too.  the report from him was that the rise was again not as good as the falling tide.


i also got an e-mail from my buddy chris from the california fly shop.  i’m hoping hook up with him the next time i’m up there.  he sent this pic of the lower sac from couple of weeks ago.  right on bro, i’m jealous.


chris with a beauty lower sac bow.






bonefishing oahu:

you never know unless you go


woke up at four thirty (again) to fish hi kai with surfer boy craig and e.t.  i had sworn off the early morning bonefishing years ago, but sometimes i do relapse for assorted reasons.  the last time it was to fish with deano.  today’s reason for the awakening before dawn was the hunch that the fishing would be better in the morning on the falling tide than the afternoon big tide. anyone who knows me, knows that i’m not a bite chaser.  i decide how i want to fish and where even if i know where and when there probably would be more fish.  that may sound slightly sadistic to some but the part i really enjoy about fly fishing is the fishing and the challenge of trying to learn things that you may never know all the answers to.  so i had to get up early just to see if my hunch was correct or not.


we got out there about six and the tide was really low and still falling... craig began casting his beulah switch 6/7 into some of the “deeper” spots.  i opted to just take it all in and walked all the way out to take a look at one of the blue holes that are scattered about the flats out there.  tip for beginners, it’s always a good idea to check places out on a super low tide.  there may not be any fish there at the time, but it is a great opportunity to take a glimpse into the fishes world that many people never see.  take mental notes of spots that look fishy, and check them out on other tides.  over the years, i have found many really subtle changes in the flats that are undetectable on any other tide but the lowest of tides. this kind of knowledge has "saved the day" for me on many tough days on the water.


e.t. hooked a bonefish in one of the channels that made quick work of  his leader on the shallow reef.  when the sun came out we started looking around and there they were.  we spent the next couple of hours fishing bonefish in shallow water, laughing at the hook ups and break offs, cursing the cons of the weedguard, reminiscing about surf spots and people we all knew.  the surf talk was a result of this day also being a reunion between e.t. and craig and because there was a nice south swell going off.  just having a blast, two guys who used to surf and one that still does.  there weren’t that many fish but the ones we found were willing.  we caught fish on brown charlies, the sunday orange #8, gold and orange jiggy bone bugs, and the reef special. 



as the tide came in the fishing slowed down quite a bit.  we pounded it until it was unbearably high and then maniac craig pounded it more.  didn’t hook any fish on the high tide, i know the fish were around there but maybe we didn’t get it in front of any or maybe we couldn’t make good enough presentations with what we had in the ridiculously high, windy and murky, featureless sea.  i’m not sure why we didn’t hook any when the tide came up.  my hunch proved correct though, i think if we had fished only the rise we may have gotten the big bolo.  no one really knows why "sometimes like that" but that’s the game.  the only thing for sure is that you never know unless you go.


craig’s first fish of the day, a good sized weke... every fish is so cool, you just can’t make that stuff up.


a peek into one of the blue holes on a minus tide.


nwff guide e.t. does this every single day with or without clients.  


this guy has been known to catch a bonefish or two in his day as well.


hawaii bonefish flats jawa.


the eyes tell the whole story.


craig goin’ deep and launching bombs with his beulah 6/7 switch into a raging sea... easy, easy big fella!


clay and e.t. discuss the days events after a long day on the flats, good times.






two handing the big tide


when i received “the call” from deano yesterday, i had a feeling that the fishing gods were not going to be kind to me.  i also knew that the plan would involve some kind of o’dark thirty time because of the tide.  it did.  i met deano at five thirty a.m.   normally i would have said no way to getting up at four to fish at five thirty, but this was fishing two handed rods with dean so i  looked at it more like training...  no pain no gain right?


the first thing that happened to me was that i broke my wading stick as we were wading out.  i spent the first twenty minutes or so watching dean launch bombs with his beulah 8/9 switch rod while i macgyvered my wading staff back together using only what i had in my pack.  normally, this wouldn’t be a problem because i usually spend a half hour or so just horsing around before i even start fishing, but the tide was going to roll in like a beast and we knew we were against the clock from the get go.


i managed to limp out (litterally) to where deano was casting, found a high spot to teeter precariously on and began to get the bomb on.  we spotted a school of bait and dean got several strikes and landed an omilu (bluefin trevally).  i couldn’t cast far enough, the bait were out about a hundred feet or so.  i’m not sure how far out exactly they were but i was throwing a beulah elixir 7/8 line overhead with two hands with just  a few wraps on the reel and was coming up short.  deano on the other hand was throwing the beulah 8/9 switch rod single hand double hauling and hitting the school.  he must have been throwing the whole line, maybe more. what was that thing about being able to make the cast being the most important key to fly fishing?


deano hooked another bonefish but pulled the fly.  the day pretty much went down hill after that brief little encounter.  we retreated as the tide pushed us beyond acceptable crack taking levels.  spent a little bit of  time looking for bones that weren’t there.  sometimes on the big fast rising tide the fish will wait until it’s really high before they even start to come up on the reefs.  i don’t know how they know how big the tide’s going to get but they know... they know.  today felt like one of those days.


we retreated all the way to shore and had fun practicing our two handed spey casts from the beach right up against the trees. that’s when i hooked the two monsters of the day (see photos).  although, the fish catching wasn’t on par today, i got to fish with deano one of my favorite guys to fish with.  saw some very inspiring casting, launched a few nice casts myself, and ended the day with a lunch fit for a king (a whopper jr.).  good friends... good times... and more drive for the next time. how can you beat that?


deano makes the casts and it pays off with a little omilu (bluefin trevally) action.


gumba on the hunt for fish somewhere over the rainbow.


cracking some of the "monster fish" of hawaii... oh well, sometimes like that.


for the parting shot, deano shows off his latest fly creation... he calls it the "cabomba".  thanks deano.  always good times.






an average bonefishing day on oahu


went out to ke’ehi with jay, e.t., and asa today.  e.t. and asa got out about six in the morning (asa likes to fish super early, which is why i don’t get out with him much).   jay and i took the more casual route and met them at nine or so.  i don’t do early for bones anymore, i’ve put in more than my share of “dark to dark” on the flats in the scouting and guiding years.  in those days i’d often times spend more than fifteen hours studying at hawaii bonefish university, oahu campus. (ty and kevin remember some of those days).  fifteen years later, i still haven’t graduated, but sleep and work have taken a slightly higher priority.


e.t. had gone out to ke’ehi the previous two days and had racked up some fifteen or so bones, so by day three he was a little beat down on bonefishing the same place.  ed is one of the few guys that i know that actually fishes at least a couple of hours everyday.  <i think he fishes about three hundred fifty days a year.  he thinks its more like three thirty, but i think he’s wrong.  it’s this insatiable drive to fish, that has catapulted him to sit among the elite of bonefishing in hawaii.  e.t.’s mild burn out on fishing worked out in my favor today as i got a rare chance to actually spend time with him on the water. 


for those of you who don’t know this, there are two kinds of bonefishers that walk the hawaiian reefs.  the first are movers.  the movers are constantly walking looking for fish, stopping only for brief moments to take shots at fish.  e.t., as well as jay, are definitely movers (as anyone who has fished with these guys will attest to).  jay says he can’t stand staying in one place for long if he’s not seeing fish.  the other type are the stakers.  i am a staker.  i’ll move until i find fish and then just stay there for quite a while, sometimes all day.  which way is better?  like so many things in fly fishing it just depends on how you like to fish.  the movers can cover vast amounts of ground in a day.  ed and jay fish about seventy five percent more of a flat than i will on any given day.  which is why i don’t actually spend much time with them when we’re fishing “together”.  whenever we are fishing side by side either they’re slowing down their pace for me or i’m speeding up my pace for them.   the result... one of us, if not both of us, is not catching as many fish as they probably could be.  so generally we just go our separate ways and report back at the end of the day or if we happen to pass each other at some point.


the day was okay.  a little cloudy but the kind of cloudy that you can still see fish quite well in.  kind of windy but just regular wind.  the tide was not too low and didn’t get too high.  it felt like an average day and that’s exactly how it turned out.  i fished a meiser 567 saltwater two hander (gotta get that practice in) as well as a sage z-axis 7wt.  we fished reef specials and brown charlies.  there were a few fish where there is usually a few and lots where there are usually more of them.  we all caught three or four fish each all in the three to five pound range.  tagged a few for the cause.  lost a couple that were maybe a little bigger six or so.  the fish weren’t that hard to hook nor were they that easy.  it wasn’t boring (it’s never boring with these guys)... it was just average.  so everyone out there who is wondering what an average day bonefishing is like on oahu that’s pretty much it.  keep in mind though that these are guys that i consider among the best oahu bone guys out there... your results may vary. 


catch... release.


cookie cutter fish, whose is bigger guys... i think mine is.


e.t. shows the agony of bonefish defeat... harold and harry would shake their heads and say, “substandard gear”.<


jay hooks one more on the way back to the boat and hams it up for the camera.


the best actor award goes to jay and he gets the parting shot... good times, until next time.






the “d” hawaii bonefish report


just got the report from deano.  sorry i couldn’t make it out there guys, but i was busy with work stuff.  wish i was there... oh well, next time.


“Well Diver Dean, Cary, and I got out fly fishing yesterday after work for a short evening session.  The tide was low when we got to the beach and we had to GET ON IT if we were going to put in some quality sight fishing time before the tide was started to bowl in.  There were big bones cruising the flat and we all had decent shots but fish were not in a cooperative mood.  Daryl and Ken arrived and crept up slowly behind me while I was trying to sight bones in the waning light.  Ken is visiting Hawaii and wanted to see what the deal was with the switch rod since his shoulder is giving him problems and he still wants to fish hard.  I talked to Ken prior to meeting him and I was thinking double overhead casting with the switch rod would be a solution to his fly fishing obsession.  So with that I gave him a quick demo of the different styles of casting with the switch (single hand, double overhead, and spey) and let him use it for the rest of the day.


By the time we started fishing again the tide was getting pretty high so Daryl, Ken, and I started blind casting while Diver Dean, and Cary were sight fishing on the gravel bar.  I was fishing near Ken and watched him get acquainted with the switch.  He looked awkward at first but I knew if he kept at it he would figure it out.  I think that’s one of the things I like most about fly fishing, the fact that there’s always something to learn or improve on.  In a short while Ken improved dramatically and made casts well over the 60’ range.  He even hooked and landed the first bone of the day.  We knew the bones were around so after taking some pictures and releasing the fish we got back to work. 


The next one to hook up was Daryl and boy was it a MONSTER.  In all my years of fly fishing I have never seen a fish that big landed.  Congrats Mr. D.  To top it off Mr. D also landed a nice white papio.  I knew fishing was going to be hard for me since it’s been a long time since I last fished a single hand and I was using someone else’s set up that I haven’t put my own personal “ju ju” on.  That would prove true since the fruits of all the “chopping” I did was a small 5” puffer and three rocks of various sizes.  The sun was starting to go down and Daryl and Ken had to go so we switched back our rods and I had pretty much given up to the fact that I was not going to land a decent fish. 


Diver Dean and Cary were on the inside still casting so as I said my goodbyes to Daryl and Ken I slowly walked towards them.  When I got closer I found out that <Cary had landed a bone and Diver Dean had landed a rock.  I was really hungry so I told them to make 5 more casts and then we should go in.  On my third cast I pull a fish from deep within my magic hat and ended up landing my one fish for the day.  With me landing my fish the pressure was all on Diver Dean.  Was he going to land a fish?  Well we gave him 5 more casts and he ends up hooking and landing a small bone.  All in all a terrific day of fly fishing with friends. “


Best Water on the Planet


fishing the beulah switch pays off for ken.


daryl spanks a giant “world class” hawaiian bonefish... should we call the IGFA?


...while diver dean could only squeeze out this small bone with his last five casts.







kamehameha day on the lake


the good king kamehameha was nice enough to grant kirk a day off from his busy schedule down at the aquarium.  like many of my fishing friends, i can’t really remember when or how i met kirk, but we’ve fished together every once in a while for quite a few years now.  kirk’s another one of those fishy guys that i always enjoy talking about fishing to as well as horsing around with.  also being an old school skate rat, it’s fun reminiscing about the old days... well old days for me kirk is still shredding it up out there.


we got on the water around eleven.  the water was extremely low.  i think a few more feet and it will be below the ramp.  i’ve seen it below the ramp when i was a kid, but i can’t really remember where exactly the ramp ends.  <


fishing was okay.  i heard that the fish were busting like crazy early in the morning until the sun got high.  of course that was long before we were able to drag out there.  kirk fished the multicolored conehead shad bugger and i fished a bead head ice wing fiber streamer. stan came out and joined us for a bit... it’s always nice to have a professional camera boat with you.  we caught a bunch of red devils including one that had very unique spots.  i saw the spawning tucs that i thought i would see, but we left them alone (after a while they sort of become like friends).   there were sporadic fish busting and we tried to get them down deep but couldn’t get on them.  <we caught several non spawners around the woods which was a good sign.  all the peacocks that we caught were fat and stuffed with assorted baitfish.  there appears to be large schools of peacocks around so the summer bait bite may be eminent.  mike, (blue boat point mike), you had better dust off the ole bass boat, it will soon be time for you to come out and play!


clay waves the white flag... no mas no mas.


kirk shows the size of  the biggset fish he has ever caught, don’t worry you’ll top that someday.


just kidding, kirk does conk some big fish... he landed this creature a couple of weeks ago.


a nice “eater” and apparently very on the eat judging by the things he hurled onto the deck.


peacock hurl... not the fly tying kind.


hooked up or stuck in a tree?


stan, you lie... there’s no fish in this lake!


stan loves “that gold fly that you tie” and so do the peacocks


kirk’s got peacocks.


clay’s got peacocks.



cool looking moldy devil... i’m trying to keep the pics of devils down because they’re politically incorrect.



...but look at the black spots on this one.




parting shot.  as always good times with the kirkstafarian.






papio with the nanko’s crew

hana hou! (do it again)


so sean and the nanko’s boyz went out again this afternoon to see if lightning would strike twice... and it did.  this time sean managed to squeeze out a small white on the same peacock pencil and the nanko's crew did what they do.









papio with the nanko’s crew

sean went fishing with the crew from nanko's, brad, ian, and mike, in search of papio this afternoon. he reports that the fishing was pretty good, and the guys landed several nice whites in the 2-4lb. range on ultra light tackle. after much flailing in the wind, sean was finally able to hook a small omilu on his 5wt. sean reported, “the fish bit the same little popper that is so deadly on lake wilson tucs” (the peacock pencil). sean said, “it wasn’t the biggest fish of the day, but hey, you've got to start somewhere.”  i completely agree.

the trevally in this blog were all released to protect the innocent.




not exactly as planned


the reports were in. bones are everywhere and biting up!  nwff crew member jay had been conking them for the past couple of weeks averaging about seven boneys a trip.  i’ve been wanting to get jay up on the blog since the “dawn of blog” so to speak.  he’s one of the first guys that kevin and i saw fly fishing regularly out in ke’ehi way back when.  i reminded him of those good old days and jay said, “ yeah, when i used to come out here and try to get just one barracuda.”  jay’s come a long way since then and now the guy can walk ten miles of flats and not miss a single fish.


jay and i had powered through the tough, long, wintery (pre blog) months this year, fishing together quite a bit.  since the onset of summer, and the bonarama, something always seemed to get in the way so we haven’t been out in a while.  today was supposed to be the day, meet at 9am, hit the fast rising tide.<  bang a ton of fish.  it was a fool proof plan.  after all the ridiculous bite was on... right?  i believe the author s.e. hinton put it best, “that was then, this is now”.  


the winds switched to trades yesterday and today, they were in full force.  the bones were there in numbers, but they were very sluggish and just had that lethargic air about them.  they weren’t spooky, they were just kind of there.  the wind current made it a bit difficult to make good presentations.  i actually lost two of the fish that i “made” eat, because i had to mend the fly line, like a downstream drift, to get the fly to do what i wanted.  when the bone picked it up i couldn’t set the hook with all the slack in the line.  a couple of wiggles and they were gone. 


we weren’t expecting the fish to be so “close mouth”, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before and we managed to get some fish.  as always, it was a pleasure to fish with jay.  the bite is far from over.  i spoke with e.t. who fished out at hi kai and said the fish there were both plentiful and aggressive.  so if you’re headed out this weekend, don’t forget to pack your wind tactics in the bag of tricks you haul out there with you.  the fish are definitely there.  they may be easy or they may be hard... but that’s all part of what makes the game fun.


i see the bone... do you?



leg bone.  where were you on this one jay?


is that jay with clay’s fish, or clay with jay’s fish, or jay with jay’s fish, or clay with clay’s fish... or what?


force fed.


bonefish ninja... hey, you stole my super hero i.d.


parting shot... good times.






morning on the lake with greg and krystine


took a very nice couple from cali, greg and krystine ginsburg,  out on the lake this morning for a couple of hours.  there were lots of red devils around but not very aggressive ones.  we had to cast at many to find the ones that were willing to open mouth.  oddly enough, we caught more females and the males we caught did not have the gynormous bulbs on them.  we found a few peacocks on beds.  they all seemed very worked over and not that aggressive.  <we did managed to get a couple after much “coaxing”.  greg pulled one out of the woods that i believe was an “eater”.  we also had some chases from smaller guys but they wouldn’t commit.  the dog days of summer are upon us and it was borderline brutally hot out there in the mid morning hours.  stan showed up at around noon for the afternoon shift.  i had to take off but the last time i checked, they got a few more tucs and a couple of cats.  you’ll have to get the rest of the story from stan at www.hawaiibassfishing.com.  greg and krystine, i hope you guys enjoy your little hawaii fishing adventure.


greg holds up an “eater” note the non-spawn colors.


krystine’s first devil.  by the time i left, krystine became a certified deviller.  i’d look back and she’d be on another one... way to go girl.


greg with a nice tuc... does that spot pattern look familiar to anyone else besides me?


doubling up on devils... good times.






devil slaughterhousin’


spent the day on the lake with two navy dudes todd and frank.  they came in on an aircraft carrier and were looking to get some fishing r&r in before heading back out to sea.  being bluegill fishermen by trade, red devil fishing was right down their alley and they picked it up right away.  the day was beautiful and it was a red devil slaughterhouse up there.  todd was hardcore casting and hooking devils from the moment we got into the water until we left.  frank was more chill, opting to fish at a more human pace.  they caught over sixty assorted devils (not that we counted) and maybe ten tucs.  nothing real big but not bad.  i set todd up with a st.croix legend four weight and a rio aqualux intermediate line.  todd used a new bead head fly i tied with ice wing fiber as well as a clouser like fly that he tied.  frank used a two inch senko, and the grand slam fly on a spinner.  the tucs were not agressive at all, perhaps from the weekend beat down, but i kept them in the game and we got many of the ones we did roll up on.


we caught a handfull of bluegills.  todd somehow got a violent strike from the rare fly eating talapia.  a micro needle fish took too close a look at todd’s fly and he hooked that.  we caught a small jewel cichlid that frank promply traded up for a nice peacock.


it was a nice day up there, dudes were cool, and i think they left pretty stoked.  i forgot to thank them for serving our country... so thanks guys.  i, for one, really appreciate that.


nice tuc.


gotta have the deep throat shot... i don’t know why, i just like it.


frank “upgrades” a small jewel cichlid.


cool “moldy” devil.


todd displaying the prettiest tuc of the day.


look at those spots... so cool.




todd’s fly... it’s always more fun to get fish on flies you tied.


tucs like todd’s clouser too.


what can i say, like the “deep throat fish” shots... i love the bulbous bump head, that doesn’t make me a female red devil does it?


yet another nice peacock.


now that’s my kind of talapia... fly eating talapias, what will they think of next.


todd and frank played “doubles” a bunch of times, sometimes mixed doubles.


micro needle.  as fiji trevally guide jim siers would say, “very ambitious.”




devil carnage montage.


last fish of the day and it was a good one.  tip of the day... always end the day on a fish.  good times.  thanks guys for your service and be safe out there.



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