Honolulu, Hawaii, June 18-21, 2012
I teetered back and forth, trying to regain my balance before I toppled off the rock into deeper water. A strong gust of wind had struck me from behind and almost pushed me into the channel.
For the past few weeks the islands have been buffeted by very strong trade winds--some exceeding 50 miles per hour but averaging between 25 to 35 in strength. This has made for some very interesting and at times frustrating fishing on the flats as Eric, SteveL, SteveT and I pursued bonefish, or o’io, as they are known in Hawaii.
When the wind blows the casting gets ugly. You find yourself trying to pull off a cast when it isn’t howling but it always seems the strongest gusts arrive just when you’re carrying lots of line outside the rod tip and the throw either crumples into a messy pile on the forward cast or piles up on the backcast. The only thing to do in this situation is not to throw the hero bomb--80 to 90 feet of line and leader. Reel up and throw shorter. Cut back on the length of your leader. The best practice in a high wind situation is to strip out a bunch of line and make five good casts, and by good meaning a decent loop and the leader straightens out as it’s supposed to, then reel up the extra line left in the stripping basket plus about three to four extra turns of the spool. That is the length you will be fishing. It may seem short (or maybe not), but if you walk slowly and carefully and fan a couple casts before moving on you will hook a fish. The disturbance across the water surface caused by the brisk winds also masks a lot of sound and allows for a not so quite perfect presentation.
It is usually not so windy in the islands. This was just a nasty weather pattern passing through but wind is always a big player on the flats. If you intend to fish in the islands you must be able to handle casting in the wind because the trade winds are almost always blowing, and be especially familiar with the double-haul because you will be using it every day. Local guides often complain that clients arrive in the islands expecting shots at big bonefish and when presented with the opportunity they cannot execute the cast because they cannot cast in the wind or perform a double-haul. You don’t need use a double-haul to fish for most trout and anglers seldom fish in really windy conditions (unless you fish in the West) but you need to seriously practice both or you will be disappointed when you’re presented with a shot at a BIG Hawaii bonefish.