March 3, 2010

Kailua pupule

Spent 8 days on the big island this last week with the fam. Weather was good, vog was thick, sand was soft, and the tsunami was a joke. There were 12 of us in all, half of which spent a day on the water with Captain Russell Nitta of the Lepika out of Honokohau harbor near Kailua-Kona. Captain Russell was a great guide and treated us all with great respect, not to mention the nearly 700 lbs of fish he put us on... but I'll get to that later.

Somehow we scored this huge house in Kona right across from the ocean (right in the meat of the tsunami evacuation zone) with a view of the ocean, a pool, a pool table, a big screen tv, outdoor showers, screened lannais (patios), 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms...... this place was stacked. I have no clue how my sister hooked it up... but she did. The big screen was rolling Olympic highlights every day... I should mention... watching the winter Olympics in board shorts and flip-flops was a new one for me... I'm not saying I couldn't get used to it, but it definitely felt a little weird watching the US-Canada hockey prelims in an open-air bar with 20 other people draining frosty mai tais 50 ft from the ocean. Again... not complaining... maybe just rubbing it in a little.

Back home while this winter continued to prove that central California may never have a good salmon and steelhead run ever again, I was hooking crazy reef fish from the volcanic shores of Pele's version of heaven. The reef was loaded with all sorts of fish mostly feeding on the reef, but every now and then the crazy Charlie I was tossing would piss one off bad enough to get a take.

Did I mention that the reef has some crazy fish in it?

I have no clue what this fish was, but it changed color when I put it back in the water. It turned white when I tossed it back.

This is a trumpet fish. This fish could swim backwards like a mutha'. When I was pulling it out of the water it tail walked backwards like flipper for about 10 ft. If you skated your fly across the surface, two-hand stripping as fast as you could, ten of these trumpet fish would chase the fly like tiger sharks. All of a sudden there would be like 10 fins chasing the fly.

These were just appetizers for our blue water trip the next day.

Like I said, Capt. Russell was the man. Although we didn't fly fish much, he did try to get us tight-lined at an off-shore fish habitat buoy. However, by the time we got there a bunch of rough-toothed dolphins had beat us there, and they were chowing down on freshly hooked fish on the ends of people's lines. Before we had got 5 casts off Capt. Russell pulled bait and we rolled out. On the way out we saw two guys reel in nothing but fish heads. It was a bummer but Tony made up for it with a 300 lb blue marlin on the way there.

On the way back we found another pile of dolphins (I guess these are the "good" dolphins) and started trolling though the pile with hootchies (we left the women at home). Before Capt. Russell had the last bait in the water, an Ahi came up and train-wrecked one of the plugs. This was my fight, and it was a good one. Good for 137 lbs.

Sashimi anyone?

After my fish, Capt. Russell set up this crazy jumping squid rig that I can't even try to describe. It looked so ridiculous, but the captain said it'd work, so I believed him. It was basically as close to dry fly fishing for 150 lb tuna as you can get. Capt. Russell said to watch the baits close cause the takes would be pretty good, and he wasn't lying.

First pass, Sam was in the chair and one of the squids went down, but the Captain kept yelling, "Not yet! Not yet!" And then right before Sam started reeling, a second squid went down. You know that feeling you get when you get a double hook-up on a dry dropped rig... well multiply that by about 40 lbs. Sam was in hog heaven...

Two 20 lb skip jack tuna that we took home to eat.

But we weren't done just yet. After several more passes through the dolphins with the crazy jumping squid rig, there was on more take on one of the dancing squids. This time is was a monster Ahi that came flying out of the water at one of the squids like a caddis-eating rainbow on the E. Carson, except it was a 188 lb flying tuna!

No good trip happens without a little drama... as Gregg's fish was being hauled-in through the back gate, about 300 gallons of water comes into the stern of the boat, and Capt. Russell goes, "Oh, that's not good..." and everybody on the boat was quiet. The bilge pump in the stern had gone out and the entire rear hull was filled with water.......

After a quick scramble we were able to bail the water with an auxiliary livewell pump but not until after a quick flash of my life before my eyes....

Good times....

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