Maui fly fishing and the continued lack of an HI bonefish

I went out with Captain Jon Jon today in his two person kayak to hit some spots in Maui on my family vacation.

One of Capt. Jon Jon's two man kayaks

One of Capt. Jon Jon’s two man kayaks

Sadly, there was no bonefish hooked.

Still, it was a good time. I learned a lot and I can see the potential.

We started off with spinning rods, trolling flies, as we made our way out to where he wanted me to focus. We picked up a couple jacks/trevally (little ones) this way, which was fun.

When we got started actually fly fishing, it was blind casting in spots Jon Jon knew held fish… educated blind casting, if you will. Some of this was in water that was a bit deep as I had a few swells come up to my armpits (my double haul starts falling apart in water that deep). The bones just weren’t with the program though. Captain Jon Jon said he saw several, but my eyes have never been good at spotting deep bones and I didn’t see them.

We finished the day on a spot where I had excellent vision into water that was maybe 3 feet. If a bone had crossed within 60 feet of me there, I would have seen it. Alas, it was not to be.

As we made our way back in I was trolling a fly with my fly rod and managed a nice bar jack, which may be my first such fish.

My Maui Bar Jack

My Maui Bar Jack

The whole thing started at 6 AM and was over at noon, giving me time to get back to the family without my wife being left on her own too much. It was a good excursion and Captain Jon Jon was knowledgeable and personable.

If we come back to Maui, I’ll be looking him up again.

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  1. Bjorn, great that you got to Hawai’i. Would you ask around about which island/s are best for bones. I might have a work and play trip coming up later this fall and I’d like your input.

    Thanks, Skip

  2. Hey Bjorn,
    Just returned home today from our annual trip to Hawai’i. Fished the flats of Oahu on Sunday & Monday. Conditions were exceptionally tough on Sunday with the trade winds blowing and mostly cloudy skies. I still managed to hook a nice one (close to double digits) but lost the fish after it ran over the edge and became tangled in some sort of mess in the deep water. Got the fly back after several minutes of tugging from every conceivable angle. Usually the line gets cut on the razor sharp coral when they zip over the edge, but not this time.
    Monday the conditions were almost perfect with mostly sunny skies. Brought along a dear friend who’s a local by the name of Kamalei. He’s a big time fisherman who does a lot of deep sea fishing but had never fished the shallows for O’io. Reason I mention this is because as we reached the flat,his eyes became as wide as plates and he said, “awhh brudda, it’s looking like nothing but Christmas lights over der.” What we were seeing were dozens & dozens of huge bones tailing and swimming around with their dorsal fins protruding from ankle deep water and glistening in the early morning sun. I’ve seen this spectacular show before and still get excited, but Kamalei (who’s a grizzled tough local) was mesmerized and speechless. I almost had to slap him to get him refocused so we could fish rather than stand around like a couple of school girls staring at Justin Bieber posters.
    These fish were super spooky, as usual, but I still managed to land two. Anywhere else a 5 pound and a 7 pound fish would bring tears of joy, but here they’re nothing to brag about. We still had fun taking selfies and goofing around taking photos so he could show his buddies. Kamalei isn’t a fly fisherman so while I was stalking fish on the flats he worked the edges with a spinning rod and a top water plug. He caught a nice blue trevally (and a bunch of little rats too) and some barracuda. Just like you, we were off the water by noon and ended a perfect morning by drinking Mai tais at the coolest Tiki bar that was built in 1957 and you could tell the owners hadn’t spent a dime on the decor since.

  3. Awesome report Kelly. It was fun and a good morning out on the water during a family vacation. If we head back to Maui, I’ll go out again, for sure. I know Oahu has the fish, but it sounds really pressured. You see many people out?

  4. Hey Skip. Oahu has the most developed fishery with the most guides and most flats. Kauai has at least one flat where bones are found and Molokai has several and has pretty good fishing, from what I hear, but the least infrastructure. Maui is not known for bonefish, but they are there, just the island lacks what we might consider “classic” flats structure, so the fishing tends to be less sight-fishing and more blind-casting.

  5. Good you tried. Best luck next time!

  6. Bjorn,
    As with you, Hawai’i is an annual family vacay for me as well. With that being said, I’m still able to sneak out for a couple mornings. The wife does her thing like yoga, SUP, or lounging while I fish in the AM. We then meet up for lunch & go on with our day. My annual, hard core saltwater fly fishing trip is to the Mexican Caribbean and that’s where I get to fish 8 hrs. a day for 6 straight days. You know, the kind of trip where you come home and need a couple days to catch up on rest.
    Yes, I did see others out & always do and yes the fish see pressure. I personally know 4 guides, and another is sort of in semi-retirement, so bonefishing is gaining in popularity there. I spend my winters in south Florida and if you want to talk about fishing pressure…PLEASE…I’ve been fishing Hawai’i for a decade & while I’ve been skunked for a day I’ve never been for two.
    I don’t want this post to sound condescending, but Hawai’i isn’t about easy bonefishing. That’s what the Bahamas & Belize is about most of the time. What Hawai’i is for me…is sight fishing to spooky, Shamoo sized bones with 2,000 foot tropical mountains as a back drop and when you catch one of those bast@?ds, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something special. If you do get back, pack that rod!!!

  7. I know they aren’t easy. I’ve never fished Oahu, but I’ve fished Kaui a few days and now Maui and have yet to even get a follow. I know the biggest bonefish of my life probably lives in Hawaii though. They just grow em bigger here.

    If we come back, I’ll bring a rod (I have three along, just to be on the safe side).

  8. How’s about a trip to the Bahamas to take your daughter bonefishing with our resident expert? 🙂

  9. I’ve been to the Bahamas, several times, and I’ll be back.

  10. Bjorn,

    Cindy and I are heading over to Maui and Kauai in March. What outfit were you using 8-weight, 10-weight?


  11. Hey Dustin, long time! Yes, and 8 wt. is all that was required. It was a really weird fishery. There certainly are fish there to catch, but they tend to be just a tad deep… although it does happen.

  12. Bjorn,

    I wanted to talk with you a bit about the upcoming trip, can you shoot me an email at my last name at gmail dot com so that we can have the discussion out of the comments section?


  13. Do you suggest fishing them with an intermediate sink or just a straight floating line?

  14. bonefishbjorn

    Well… As I didn’t catch a bonefish there, I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer. But… Both. The West certainly is deep enough for an int sink

  15. Aloha. Bones are here on Maui. I have fished Lanai for the past fifteen years and Oahu since young. Please feel free to email me when you next come to Maui. I will do my best to help you. The gene pool is here for record fish. Tight loops. Terry

  16. Aloha Terry. I’ve spent a lot of time on the islands with a fly rod mostly on Molokai and Oahu. Never had any luck on Maui. We are heading back over to Maui and Lanai next month and would love to get a tip or two. Mahalo, Steve

  17. Hey Terry, what is your email? I’ll be in Maui this summer and would love some tips!

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