Jul 16

My next bonefishing trip… Maui?

First off, let me tell you I always heard there weren’t bonefish in Maui. There aren’t the big flats where anglers can target them and so, while they might technically be, ya know, in the area, they weren’t really something you could target.

Well, guess what? I’m (most likely) going bonefishing in Maui come September.

I’ve made most of the travel plans since I married my wife 4 years ago and there has been one pretty decent constant… fishing. We honeymooned in Belize, visited Florida and the Bahamas twice. So, she said she wanted to go to Hawaii and, with a track record of things going pretty much my way to date, I said “sure.”

My history with Hawaiian bonefish is not glamorous. I’ve pretty much had my ass kicked by the O’io (Hawaiian for bonefish). The first bone I ever saw was on Kauai and it was massive, well over 10 pounds. I didn’t catch it. I haven’t caught any of the bonefish I’ve seen in Hawaii (a number I’d put at about 20). I’ve caught bonefish in the Bahamas and Belize and Cuba and I even managed the world’s smallest Florida Bonefish, but Hawaii has been another story.

Thinking there weren’t even bonefish there and with the poor history, I was surprised to find a guide in Maui, who, it sure looks like, catches bones in Maui (Captain Jon Jon).

So, I’m booking him for a trip when we are there for Labor Day. I have no idea what to expect, but I’m game.

I think they deal with a lot of novice bonefish anglers. Captain Jon Jon’s wife handles his bookings and she told me that, if I’d like, Captain Jon Jon can do the casting. Not being a really prime bonefish location, I’d imagine he gets a lot of people who haven’t done it before, can’t cast in the wind and have no idea what a double haul is and so, in that situation, you might do the casting. These guys are probably not the same guys who go to Andros or Los Roques. These are the bait guys from Tennessee who have never picked up a fly rod before and instead of starting at the beginning, are jumping right to the top.

I let her know I’d do my own casting and that I’ve cast in the wind before and that I’d do a half-way decent job of it.

Looking forward to seeing exactly what this game is about in a place I didn’t even think it was possible.

I’ll try to get an interview with him and put it up as well.

Jan 15

Bonefish and Hawaii

I have said, and maybe even believed, I would not go back to chase bonefish in Hawaii. This video has me rethinking that.

I know it is tough. I’ve known very good anglers who have gone smelled of skunk, but I also know others who have smacked the fish of a lifetime.

My own Hawaiian experience is maybe colored by life experiences which have have nothing at all to do with bonefishing. I saw my first bonefish, to this day maybe the biggest bone I’ve ever seen, on a flat, on THE flat on Kauai. I had been looking for them all week and suddenly they were in front of me. My heart was in my throat. My hands were shaking as if I’d had a quadruple shot espresso. I sucked. I knew almost nothing about bonefishing, but I was casting at them (and being ignored by them). And then… then I heard the (increasingly in my memory) shrill cry from the shore from my ex-wife telling me it was time to come in and watch the baby.

This was the bonefish I caught in Hawaii.

This was the bonefish I caught in Hawaii.

Defeat… in many senses of the word.

Kauai was where we had honeymooned and it was where my parents were celebrating their 40th anniversary, bringing the whole family along.

Post separation I went back to Kauai to seek out the fish I had been called away from. I camped, cheaply and legally, a cast from the beach. I went out every day, all day, for three days. I got 4 casts. All brief. All failures. In the rain and just after the rain and just before it rained again.

Oh, and there was rain... lots of rain.

Oh, and there was rain… lots of rain.

I called it quits on Hawaii. I figured I had filled up the Island state with enough failures and I vowed not to return.

But, see… I never went to Oahu. I never fished where the fish are more consistently targeted. And videos like this one from Mike Hennessy of Hawaii On The Fly… well… maybe we could head to Hawaii. Maybe I should go out there, on those more well traveled flats to try my luck against one of the monsters.

I’d either fail or succeed and by now I’ve gotten more acquainted with failure and know it isn’t so much a life-long tag. I think I’ll put it back on the list.

May 12

O’io… the gamefish

From the outrage over the bonefish netting a few days ago has picked up some steam.  There’s an on-line petition to ask for bonefish to be moved from the “kill as many as you can catch” category to the “gamefish” category, meaning they would not be in markets any longer.

Hatch Magazine has a story about it…

Opponents of net harvesting of Hawaiian bonefish, known locally as o’io, are attempting to have these fish placed under gamefish status by Hawaii’s governor. Once under gamefish status, killing bonefish would not become illegal, but Hawaiian bonefish would be harvestable only when caught by rod and reel, thus ending the ability of local fisherman to harvest large catches of bonefish via netting.

Read the story here.

Of course, this has been going on for a long time.  I ran a story about the netting bonefish on Kauai a while back. Bonefish have been eaten by the locals and natives for a long, long time.  However, modern tactics (like nylon nets) have the potential to wipe the fishery out.  Seems like it is time to do something about it.

Go ahead… sign it.  Only 296 had done so when I last saw it. We can do better.

Mar 12

FYI – not everyone gets skunked in Hawaii

Yes… it happened to me on Kauai (which is a beautiful island in so many ways, just not exclusively for the fishing).  However, it went better for the writer of Alaska Rod and Fly.

Had the opportunity to spend two fabulous days on Oahu chasing bonefish with Mike Hennessy from Hawaii on the Fly.  Mike knows these bonefish.  If it wasn’t for his exceptionally keen eyes to see these fish, I would still be trying to catch one.  I would hear 12 o’clock 30ft and start casting.  The whole time I would be scanning the water looking for the fish.  The fly would land and I would hear, “long strip, long strip, let it drop, short strip, short strip, long, long, he’s got it strip it”, and bam fish on, never seeing the fish.  The only time I would see a fish, is if it was hovering over sand, or my cast would scare it and it bolted off.

Yeah… that sounds familiar, just in a different geographical context. Nice post there ARF.


Jan 12

Big Hawaii Bone

Coach Duff and a big Hawaii bone.  There aren’t a lot of fish there, but the fish that are there are beeg.

Dec 11

Godspeed Marty

Got news last night that Marty passed away.  Marty was a really, really good guy.  He loved fish and the places they are found. He was a real cornerstone of conservation down here in the South Bay. He’ll be missed.

Below is a post about Marty’s bolo from earlier in 2011.

Marty showed me his new bolo from none other than Louie the Fish in Hawaii (Louie and his son guide for bonefish as well).

Nice... carved from bone, I believe.


Looking good Marty!

Dec 11

Some notes on my trip to Kauai

OK… if I had just slayed them, I probably would be a little more elusive about where exactly I went.  However, having spent 3 & 1/2 days in pursuit of bones in Kauai, I feel comfortable revealing which island I was on.

Mainly, I feel comfortable doing so because if you head to Kauai with the sole intention of catching bonefish, you are mad… MAD, MAD, MAD!

I certainly won’t go back to Kauai JUST for the fishing.  I may very well go back there.  I love that place.  If I go back, I’ll bring a rod, for sure. However, the fishing leaves a lot to be desired… like a lot more fish that are considerably less spooky and much more easy to find… to name a few attributes that could improve things a tad.

I wrote down a list of thoughts I had from the trip… here are a few:

  • Sleeping bags in damp, warm places are not really very comfortable.
  • Of the 4 shots I had, 3 were to single fish in deeper water, 3 feet or so.  If that’s where the fish are hanging out, it makes more sense why they were hard to find.
  • I didn’t see a single bonefish predator.
  • Rain gear was essential.
  • There were some bait guys out there… the kind where you stick the rod in a holder and wait for the bell to ring. I never saw them catch anything.
  • The Redington Predator cast well for a big rod.  No complaints.
  • I didn’t see a bonefish really tail (I did see tails, but those fish, unlike the deep water fish, were in really skinny water and I think they were just so big their fins were out of the water).
  • I didn’t see a bonefish push water.
  • There were guys hitting golf balls out into the ocean.  There were hundreds of golf balls in the sand and on the flats. Those guys are tools.
  • Getting out on those big flats was easy, but walking back, when the lights went off, was challenging.
  • I have a new appreciation for fish that feed readily and are plentiful.
  • At the campground there were a LOT of hippies.  More than a few people seemed to be living there.
  • Roosters sever as the wake-up call, starting at about 5:30.

Yeah... not what you think of when you picture Hawaii.

Dec 11

Luckily, the trip was about more than just the fish

I’m in a cafe in Hawaii at the moment… I’m all packed up and killing a bit of time before I have to get on the flight back the Bay Area.

The trip was a good one, as long as we don’t look at it strictly in fishing terms.  I had a few reasons to head here and fishing was only one of them.  In many ways this was a trip to bring the last 8 years of my life full circle and I think I accomplished that.  Another reason to come here was this is where I saw my first bonefish, about 4 years ago.  The experience had a bit of an impact on me and I always wanted to come back to have another shot at those fish.

The first couple of days the weather was considerably less than ideal.  High winds, constant cloud cover and a good smattering of rain really put the damper on things… literally and figuratively.

Hard to see the fish with out the lights on.

The weather broke a bit on Saturday and I had a good amount of time with the lights on.  No bones even seen.

Sunday… Sunday was what I was really here for.  I walked out onto the flat and saw what looked like a bonefish feed mark.  I took a picture.  20 seconds later I saw my first bonefish of the trip and 30 seconds later I spooked my first bonefish of the trip.

Much better conditions

I came back to that spot three more times and the next two I found single fish and at each occasion the fish spooked on the cast.  Fly hit the water and the fish bolted.  These fish are SUPER SPOOKY.  They were in deeper water, maybe 3 feet, and I was lucky to see them at all.

Later, at low, low tide, I was walking really far out on a big rubble flat and I saw tails. I don’t even think they were tailing, I think they were swiming in water that was about 5-6″ deep.  I got two casts in before they bolted, never to be seen again.

Sunday was a day of shots.  I had them.  I can’t argue with that.  I didn’t convert any, but I had shots.  I found the fish, on multiple occasions.  Turns out these fish are a bit tougher than I planned on.

I’ll post some more pics and go into things a bit more in the coming days.

Oct 11


Getting back to better than alright. Finally got my fly tying desk in my new place.

Time to get back to work.

Normally by this time I would have tied up a couple dozen patterns as I prepare for my next trip (this time to Hawaii).  Now that I have the desk back I can get back on the search for pattern/size recommendations for HI.

Anyone have any go-to flies for HI?

May 11

Big HI Bone

Yeah… they get kind of big out there.

I want to catch a fish that big.  I can’t really comprehend what that pull must be like.

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