I really should have written a detailed account of our incredible trip to Hawaii immediately after returning, but since I'm such a slacker, this will be more of a photo recap of our time spent fishing.
I am one of the few lucky men who's wife loves to fish almost as much I do. This being the case, we were both pumped to have a couple weeks in Kona to explore the Big Island, and more importantly, the crystal clear Pacific waters teeming with pelagic fishes. After 2 separate mechanical issues with our plane, and a 12 hour delay, we finally arrived in paradise.
We had scheduled a fishing charter 2 days into the trip aboard the Pacific Blue, with Capt. Bill Casey. That afforded Kam and I just enough time to get settled in, get some rest, and be ready to wrestle with some fishes.
We had also booked a kayak mothership charter with Capt. John Tarson of Screaming Reel Adventures for just a couple days later. This was something we had been fantasizing about for quite some time, so we were eager to do some paddling.
Notice the slide to the left of the outboard- makes launching and recovery very easy.
We met John, along with his mates Patrick and Greg at Kawaihae Harbor, to find the water dirty brown instead of crystal clear like they are used to. There had been alot of rain on Maui and all the run off had stained the water and made a layer of floating mulch and organic matter... fishing was going to be tough. We made our way out to clean, open water, launched the kayaks and began trolling rigged ballyhoo.
Kam had a peanut Mahi take her bait near the surface, but it jumped almost immediately and threw the hook. We stuck around there for a while, but struggled to find a bite. Eventually we left the area and tried a couple other ledges, before moving back inshore where we began drifting the deep shipping channel leading into the harbor. This channel held big Ulua and if there was one fish I could have chosen to catch in the kayak, that was it. It was hours before we got another bite, but this time it was my down line... and it hit hard. I put the reel in gear, slammed the hook home, and I was cruisin'.
Unfortunately, it was strong enough to get me down into the coral heads 60' down. Knowing I only had 2 options, I put the reel into freespool and paddled back up drift from where he had wrapped himself. It worked and the line came loose, but the fish had also spit the hook... my disappointment was immeasurable. We made another couple drifts, but that was the last of the action for the day.
A few days later, Kam and I had plans to meet a friend of Capt. John, named Jesse, who is a fourth generation Ulua(GT) shore fisherman. Jesse had offered to let me and Kam camp on the cliffs with him and teach me about old school Hawaiian shore fishing techniques. As luck would have it, a rancher had locked a gate that prevented us from accessing the shoreline. This is actually against the law, since in Hawaii, access must be given to the shoreline, whether the land is public or private.
Jesse was livid- is family had been fishing from these cliffs for years, but without a pair of bolt cutters, there was nothing we could do.(I'm sure Jesse went back later and took care of it) We decided to switch gears and head down into Waipio Valley to fish from the beach. Jesse's whole family was to join us for a campout in the sacred valley.
Jesse prepares the bait, a large piece of Moray Eel. See the size of that hook...
We used a 10lb rock as a weight, tied with a special knot that would shake loose after a few minuted of fighting the fish- they actually want the Ulua to swim with the rock to help tire it out. Obviously a rock that size can't be cast, so Jesse's brother, Tawn, swam the rock out to deep water and dropped it.
It was only about an hour before we heard the clicker scream on Jesse's Penn Senator 8/0. He let the fish take the rod tip down before heaving his whole body backwards to make sure the hook had found its home. This was a very strong fish, strong enough that it parted the 80# main line about 15 minutes into the fight. I was starting to think Kam and I were carrying some kind of bad juju. Tawn was convinced to carry out one more bait, even though the sun was down now and the sharks would be feeding. We cooked dinner and caught prawn in a stream running out of the valley, while waiting for another bite, but it never came.
Waking up that morning was surreal- the sound of the waves breaking, the birds shrieking as they search for breakfast, the incredible sunrise in the valley, and the hospitality that had been extended to us left Kam and I with few words. After thank yous and goodbyes, we packed up our stuff, and made the treacherous trip up 1200' from the bottom of the valley, via a one lane road with a 25% grade. This was truly a night we would never forget.
At this point we only had a few days left in Hawaii, and the idea of going back to the mainland not having caught anything in arguably the best sport fishing destination in the world, was killing me. Kam and I made the decision to forgo a helicopter ride around the island, to instead take one more fishing charter.
I know, I know, I'm a lucky guy.
Kam had been in touch with a Captain in Maui via Instagram prior to us landing in Hawaii, and I convinced her to call him and see if he could put us in touch with the right guys to get us hooked up. He made a call to a buddy of his, and before I knew it, we had a trip booked with Capt. Kevin Nakamaru aboard his 37' Merritt, the Northern Lights. Only hitch was, the trip was booked the day we had to fly home, but our flight didn't leave until 10:00 pm. The captain asked that we get there early and he would keep us out extra late, with a promise to have us worn out and sleeping the whole flight home.
We had plenty of live baits and were trolling out to deep water by the time the sun broke over Mauna Loa, the largest of the 5 volcanoes that make up the Island of Hawaii. Kam and I were totally caught off gaurd when a reel started screaming only 20 minutes after setting the lines. We both looked up to see a Blue Marlin jumping and tail walking behind the boat. Being the gentleman that I am, I had told Kam that the first bite was hers.... is there any way I can take that back?
Kam doin' work!
Kam did a great job working the fish and was rewarded with a 100lbs Pacific Blue Marlin, tagged and released! The mate set the lines back out and we got settled in. It was only 7:30 and we still had a long day ahead of us. Less than 30 minutes goes by before the mate comes swinging down off the bridge, and a reel starts screaming. "Fish On! Think its a Stripey", yells Capt. Kevin. This time it's my turn, and there's a pissed off Striped Marlin at the end of my line. After a 15 minute fight my first billfish, a 120lbs Pacific Striped Marlin, was boatside!
I actually got to reach down, right the fish, and turn him away from the boat as we released him. Another experience I will never forget.
We continued to troll for another couple hours on our way out to the Tuna grounds. Capt. Kevin is known as the Tuna Ninja, and now it was time for some big Ahi. The plugs came in the boat, and the Green Stick was deployed, along with a couple live baits. The tuna are competing with Porpoise for their meal, and are aggressively chasing baits and leaping from the water. It's not long before we are hooked up with a double, as 2 giant Ahi leap out of the water simultaneously, grabbing a separate squid lure, and then diving deep again. Kam's got her work cut out for her, but one of the fish shakes the hook and after a few minutes, her first Ahi, roughly 100 lbs, is in the box.
The action stayed steady with a hook up every 30-45 minutes, and we took turns bringing them in.
This one was the only to take a live bait, but it was also the biggest @ just over 120lbs.
The action started to slow, and with 6 big Ahi in the box, it was time to head for shore. Capt. Kevin had kept good on his promise to keep us out late, and send us to the airport worn out and ready for a nap.
We had a quick rinse down on the back of his other boat when we got back to the harbor, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and headed to the Kona Airport. Our Hawaiian honeymoon had finally come to an end, and I couldn't think of a better way to finish it out. The hospitality and friendliness of the Hawaiian people was awe inspiring, the scenery was breath taking, and the memories are forever.