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

Hawaii Bone

From Joaquin, with a nice Hawaii bonefish caught on a flat along Oahu’s south shore.

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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Sep 10

How big do HI bones get?

Saw his today… a 16.5 pound bonefish caught in Hawaii. It was caught on bait, so the task was a little bit easier, but when they put the boca (not recommended, encouraged or endorsed) on it, it went  to 16.5#, which is really, really frigging large. I’ve seen some big bonefish in Hawaii and I’ve heard of some real pigs. A 16.5 pound bonefish is just a pig.

The report was on the Hull Truth.

That's a really, really big bone.

Captain Mike was the guide.

Sep 10

Hawaii Bonefish Video from Mike Hennessy

A little video of a Hawaiian bonefish shot by Mike Hennessy.  Notice the wind… a near constant companion when fishing in Hawaii and a reason many recommend up-weighting to a 9 wt. for O’io.

May 10

Bonefish art by Louie

I like it.

pearl bone by Louie

Check out his work here.

May 10

Interview with Louie the Fish

Louie the Fish not only catches bonefish in those oh-so-difficult bonefish hunting ground of Hawaii.  Louie has been at it a while and he also does some pretty outstanding fish carvings.

Louie agreed to do a little interview for Bonefish on the Brain.

Louie, can you tell me about a particularly memorable fish?

I have so many fish that stand out in my memory, from my first 6 inch native brook trout in Connecticut at about 10 years old, right up to great catches 50 years later.

Here in Hawaii I have been a bonefish fanatic for about 10 years. I got my first taste of what this amazing fish can do while on holiday in the Florida Keys. I was wading around behind a friend’s house on the gulf side of Islamorada. Bonefish were everywhere, right at my feet, and they all had lockjaw. I tried every fly in my box!

Finally, in frustration, I decided to tie on a big green wooly bugger with palmered red hackle, and I waded out to the edge of the marl, and began blind casting, stripping it back, cast after long cast.

Like a cannon going off, I got a strike, that within a millisecond ended suddenly in a balled up mess of line, and a big break off.  I was clever enough to repeat the whole fiasco a few minutes later….smoked by my first encounter with bonefish!

But that experience was prophetic. A few years later I began fishing here in Honolulu, and doing what most bonefishers do, stalking bones in an attempt to catch them sight fishing. Three weeks went by fishless, and then a light went on in my brain. I remembered that blind casting got me my first bonefish bites, so I became a dedicated blind caster. I discovered many hot spots, and began catching many big bonefish. I even wrote articles about it, and word got out, and I found myself guiding anglers for bonefish. I had it down to a science, where to fish, how to cast and how to retrieve, and designed special weedless flies meant for blind casting.

A blind casting Aloha Bone

Joaquin, Louie's son and a guide, with another monster blind casting bone.

Of course like all want-to-be purists, I still leaned toward sight fishing, and when conditions were good, I did that as well. This is all leading up to my story about my most memorable bonefish.

One day I was on a flat we called Ross’s flat, since friend and fly fisher Ross had recently landed a 37 inch bonefish, estimated at about 18 pounds, an easy IGFA record, had he not released it. It was late afternoon, the easterly wind was strong, and the sun was in the west. I was wading slowly upwind, since I could only spot fish in that direction. I had many, many shots, but it was hard to cast into the wind, and I spooked bonefish after bonefish. I finally got to the top of a long stretch, and decided to turn around. Downwind it was all glare, so I couldn’t see fish, but it was easy to make long casts. The water was only about knee deep, so I put on a lightly weighted fly, my Leeezardfish fly. Three casts later, a small thump was followed by a run which gradually increased in speed and distance, until that bonefish was out of sight almost, and had almost reached the distant, coral lined reef edge.  Well several shorter runs later, and I slipped a hand under a 32 inch, very fat bonefish, maybe 13 or 14 pounds.

The battle had attracted Ross, who had a camera that got this shot, before I released my biggest, and most memorable bonefish, made even more memorable, because blind casting had succeeded where sight fishing had not!. This was just one of many double figure bonefish I have landed here blind casting. Of course by now I have landed almost as many sight fishing, but when conditions demand a change, go with the conditions!

I'm pretty sure that's a whale (actually, it is the fish from the story).

If you happen to come here to try your hand at our elusive bonefish, stop in at Hawaii’s only fly shop, Nervous Water Hawaii, and those guys, Sean and Clay, who have fly fished for bones here all their lives, will readily attest to the fact, that in Hawaii, due to the nature of our reef flats and prevailing conditions, bonefish are most easily caught blind casting.

Well… blind casting… who knew?