Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Family Vacation

Been a great vacation thus far, with most of the highlights involving the smiling faces of my wife and kids (including burying all but JJ's smiling face in the sand today, classic picture) but I did bring the 7 wt and so far have found four occasions to chuck some feathers in the ocean.

Occasion number one occurred the first day here. While playing on the beach in front of the resort with the kids I spotted a bunch of needlefish in the shallows. Not one to be a species snob and knowing full well that needlefish are not likely to eat a fly, I ran back to the room and grabbed the rod anyway. I tied on a clouser and on the second cast I hooked and landed a small barracuda! Not much of a fight, but I was pretty happy to have something to show the kids. A few minutes later I hooked and landed a kidding. Neither fish was very big, but it was a good start.

Occasion two was the only planned fishing day. I hooked up with Rob Arita from Rob is a great guy and we had a nice time wandering the bonefish flats of Kauai. Unfortunately, my lack of luck in guided trips continued. We wandered out on the coral flats and about thirty minutes in Rob spotted a bone at 80 ft. Bonefish in Hawaii are not your typical bones...they are big. According to Rob the average bone is around 6 lbs and he catches them in the ten lb range Only thirty minutes in and I am staring at a big bone moving toward me at a perfect angle. I could clearly see the fish and I locked in on him as I started my cast. I made a false cast or two and dropped the fly in what looked like the right place. Then it got weird. I swear, I had clear vision on the fish and was totally zoned in on that shadow in the midst of the other shadows of the coral flats. When my fly landed though...the fish was simply gone. It was like one of those old ninja movies where the ninja disappears in a cloud of smoke, only no smoke. The fish just vanished. And that...was that. No other fish were spotted as clouds rolled in and conditions turned to shit. A bit disappointing for sure, but I have come to expect this when I hire a guide...I seem to be the "anti-guide". Big thanks to Rob for continuing the search despite no visibility...but that one big bone will haunt me.

Almost as much as the fish from Occasion three. With a big luau event planned one night we stayed in that afternoon so JJ could nap (while I watched the duke game). With some time left to kill after naps, the kids and Kelly took a walk on the beach and I snuck off to a nearby rock pile and started chucking some flies. A few minutes in I felt a strike and then basically hauled in a very strange creature. A trumpetfish. Somehow this thing had swallowed my clouser whole, getting the hook out was a nightmare. I have never seen one up close but it was basically a two foot long tube about 2 inches thick. Crazy. I released the goofy thing and started casting again and stripping the clouser as fast as I could. Out of nowhere something slammed my fly and I was hooked up with a real fish. No baby barracuda, no goofy trumpet or needlefish...this fish was serious. In seconds all the line at my feet had cleared the guides and my reel screamed as the fish took off...with about 20 ft of fly line left and my smile growing with each turn of the reel, the fish came unpinned. Just gone. That was it for the evening of fishing. I have zero clue what that thing was.

Occasion four was today. At this point I have come to realize that unless a guy is sight fishing, saltwater fishing is mostly about booming out a big cast with a clouser, and then stripping as fast as you can. I put that philosophy to use after some reef snorkeling this afternoon, and almost immediately hooked up with a big fish. The trouble with coral is that it is sharp! Ten seconds into the battle and the fish (again unknown) had cut me off on the reef edge. Bummer. I kept casting and stripping the fly as fast as I could and lucked into another smashing take! This time I managed to control the fish (mostly because it was not a beast!) and I kept it up above the reef edge. A few minutes later I waded to shore to show a blue fin trivially to the kids. Not a huge one, but it felt good to land something. I spent some more time poking around the edge of the reef and hooked and lost a couple more fish, nothing that felt huge but just getting the jolt of a strike was great. When the sun would pop out I could see my fly and I saw a few fish chase, including another trumpet fish and what looked like a parrot fish. Fascinating experience.

One day left in Hawaii. We will likely snorkel some more, and if I get the chance I will throw a few more flies as far as I can, and strip as fast as I a can and hopefully hang onto whatever bites.

More pics to come.


murphyfish said...

New to following your blog John, but I'm glad that the OBN gave it the heads up.
Interesting piece, come to think of it if the fly was of a size then there is no reason that predatory fish would not investigate, and like most things predatory it'll be the mouth that they use.
Sounds like you and yours have had a great vacation.
John W

Feather Chucker said...

Nice post, glad you and the family are having fun.

testflycarpin said...

Sounds like a great vacation. Nice work on the crazy exotics.

Nothing like a little salt to ease the winter blues. I love it, you never know what is going to grab next.