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fly fishing hawaii:
devils and bones.
this week has been in a word... windy. not the warm summer trade wind windy, the blustery chilly winter windy. christmas is nearing and here on oahu it’s beginning to look a lot like... well you know the rest. nothing this, or any, all weather fly fisher has not experienced before. it is actually quite nice to feel winters hand reminding us all that the end of yet another year is just about here. the fishing may have become slightly tougher in these wintery conditions, but fish still have to eat and fishermen still have to fish.
on wednesday, i spent a few wet hours on the lake with e.t. chasing one of my favorite fish, the red devil. the water in the lake is at “almost cannot launch the boat” low levels. we saw a lot of devils but they were really tough to get to eat. many were what i call “scared devils” that just bolted away or dropped into the depths when they encountered our flies. it was good to see so many close to the shore though. the past couple of times out they were deep and pretty tough to find. we took turns casting at every one we came across. most displayed typical “scared devil” behavior, some didn’t move at all... the “indifferent devil” i guess. we persisted and were rewarded with a few that made the “aggressive maneuver” that devilers around the world love. i can’t say how the peacock bass or bass fishing was as e.t. (being the sight fisher that he is) didn’t want to spend time pounding for bass or peacocks. so we didn’t really fish for them and just sight fished red devils. it rained on us pretty good off and on throughout the time we were there. if it keeps up the water level in the lake may (again) get higher.
on friday, i did a little more winter bombing for bones. i took out one of my heavier guns the sage 8119-4 tcx switch rod, a rio steelhead scandi 435gr. head, and abel switch reel to do battle with some “sketchy reef” bones. it is not uncommon when fishing tougher reef spots to win a few (usually smaller fish) but lose more. yesterday’s fishing was exactly that and brought to light a couple of tips that i think should be remembered by anyone venturing out to do battle of this kind. one of the bigger fish that i hooked ran out quite a ways (despite my best efforts to stop it) and hung me up good in the coral. no big deal. i proceeded to pull the backing to break it free, but nothing gave... uh oh. usually, if the leader is caught in some coral, it will break relatively easily. if, however, the fish has hung up the fly line on a coral head (or worse multiple coral heads) it is a lot harder to break because the fly line itself will be breaking. that brings me to tip number one. it is always a good idea to bring a back up fly line. i think we can all agree that the fly line is a pretty important part of the whole fly fishing set up. if your fly line breaks out there, it’s over, you’re done. its funny how many of us will go out with enough flies to last ten lifetimes, but only one fly line. as i pulled harder and harder, i was becoming increasingly sure that the reef had my fly line firmly in its grasp. finally, i felt something pop and the backing went limp in the water. then came that nervous few seconds of reeling before i could tell what the reef gods had left me with. i breathed a sigh of relief when i felt the weight of the scandi head. i reeled it up and my leader was completely gone. it had broken at the loop in the butt section indicating that the fish had hung the heavy 50lb. butt section in the reef. that explained why it was so hard to break. i was lucky that i didn't lose my scandi head or, worse, both my running line and scandi head.
later, after loosing a few more fish, i reached into my pack and found that i was on my last leader. this brings me to tip number two. make sure you bring enough extra leaders. i had three leaders with me, which is usually enough, but you never know when you will face “one of those days”. granted it is rare that you will go through more than three leaders in a day, but consider this. if you do need more than three leaders in a day it is most likely going to be on a day when you are hooking a lot of fish. if you think about it, this is the absolute worse kind of day to run out of leaders. fortunately my last leader survived the day and the two more fish that i hooked with it.
words to the wise, bring an extra fly line and plenty of leaders when reef pounding. i got lucky. it could have easily gone the other way. if it had, it wouldn't have been that big of a deal to me... but that's me. there are those out there whose life would go out of whack if they had to stop fishing in the middle of an epic bite (perhaps the bite of a lifetime). is that you? if it is, an extra fly line and a bunch of leaders could very well be the difference between going home super stoked or totally bummed out. i'll see you on the water.
i finally got around to getting my blue halo sky blue fiberglass 8' 5/6wt. fly rod built. i hung an abel classic on it and spanked some devils. a sweet casting fiberglass rod that looks pretty cool as well. thanks to bo and the folks at blue halo for hooking me up. also thanks to dean for putting it together so i didn't have to do it myself.
e.t. is also among those known simply as "devilers".
then on friday i managed to yoy up a few "sketchy reef" bones to wrap up another week of wintery good times.