Honolulu, Hawaii August 6-26, 2009
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The weather wasn't great on the flats and so was the fishing. At least for me.

I arrived in the islands just in time for Hurricane
Felicia, which was eventually downgraded to a strong tropical storm, but still brought high winds and heavy rains to the islands (see previous report--add link). But I was here to fish, not make excuses, so I continued to fish every day until conditions got so bad I had to put the bonefish hunt on hold for a few days to let the storm blow past the state.

Conditions returned to normal with bright blue skies and sunny weather but the high wind gusts remained. Then tropical storm
Guillermo blew in on the heels of Felicia with more high winds and rain. White caps churned across the flats in the afternoon making casting difficult. But if you intend to fish for bones, or o'io as it's known in the islands, then you have to be able to cast well in the wind to lay out 70 to 80-feet of line. It is possible to catch bones with 30 to 40-feet of line out, but getting distance with your string improves your chances for a hookup because with the surface of the water all chopped up by the wind you're blind casting, not sight fishing.

Although there are miles of flats, there are specific areas where bonefish feed or use as a transit point between the open ocean and the inner reef. We set up around a location depending on what the tide is doing and what the overall fishing conditions are at the moment. From this point it's just cast, cast and cast--the fish will be there and you just have to have the fly in the water and in front of them when they pass. One or two false casts, double-haul and get it out there.
SteveT arrived in the islands and together with SteveL and Eric we hit the water every morning. On one particular day we were spread out across the flats from 5:30am working various channels and reef cuts. Both Steves took a break and gathered behind me to trade stories so I decided to join them. After a while we broke up and SteveL suggested that SteveT try the area where I had been standing, telling him "that spot Mike was standing in is a good place." About 10 minutes later SteveT had a 6-pound bonefish on his line and after several runs it was brought to net. A really nice fish. From this point, my luck began to slowly sink into the warm Pacific.

I continued to hit the flats early in the morning. I had family things to attend to (after all it was supposed to be a family vacation) and couldn't spend all day, every day, fishing on the flats. SteveT decided to sleep in and arrived around 9:30am. I saw him begin to wade out from shore. I continued to fish but when I turned around he was still standing in the same spot, rod in hand, just about 10-feet from shore. I knew something was going on because SteveT would not waste his time standing in the shallows.

I reeled up and waded in. It was almost time for me to leave anyway. I had to be back by 10am to pick up the family for a day at the beach. As I approached SteveT waved me off and pointed at the water in front of him so I circled around and hit the beach 50-yards downwind then slowly came up behind him.

He was also on the beach at this point and I could see what he was looking at. Bonefish. A school of bonefish were cruising back and forth 15 to 20-feet away from shore as they fed. There were some small ones and a couple really big ones. The water was protected from the wind, so it was fairly calm and you could see the swirls as the fish turned and fed. You could see fins and tails break the water and by looking at the distance between the dorsal fin and tail you could gauge the size of the bonefish. And I had to go home. Or else.

"There are some big
o'io in there," said SteveT.

"S*#%," I said.

"I almost stepped on one going out. Then I saw all these other fish. They're all over the place," said SteveT.

"I have to go," I said.
But I didn't leave. Not right away. I couldn't. I told SteveT I would throw "just one cast" to see if I cold hook anything. I tied on a light fly and fired off a short loop. The fish swam right past it. Then it was another cast. And another. And another. A shift in position and another cast. Soon, I was in deep trouble.

The phone rang. Wifey was not happy. Looking at the time, I should have been home 30-minutes ago.

"You're going home at the wrong time," said SteveT.

"I'll see you tomorrow...maybe," I said. Later I found out SteveT decided to fish further up the coast and hooked a bunch of bones.

I continued to go out early in the morning and had to be home about 10am. Not stop fishing at 10am. Not walking off the water at 10am. Not standing in the parking lot at 10am. I had to be on the road and almost home by 10am. Or else. This put me at a major fishing disadvantage.

"You're going home at the wrong time.” SteveT always told me that as I walked to shore.

Bonefish eluded me. I caught everything except an o'io. Small jacks, trumpetfish, a crab, rocks, seaweed but no bonefish. Both Steves said I was trying too hard. And I admit I probably was. On previous trips I usually caught at least one o'io a day but this was a ridiculous dry spell. And I did over-think things. I changed flies way too often and used patterns I normally wouldn't use for a specific area thinking the fish wanted something different. It was the actions of a desperate angler.

Although it would have been great to pile up the numbers, weather conditions and bad luck made it tough for fishing. Even the bait-dunkers were having a hard time of it. But it was great spending time on the water fishing familiar grounds with close friends and family and hopefully the fishing gods will look down on me with mercy when I return again next year.

We used fast action 7 to 9-weight rods with floating lines and fluorocarbon leaders tapered to 20 to 25-pound tippet. Flies ranged from size 2 to size 10, depending on location. We threw mainly Charlie patterns in pink, tan, orange and olive.
Not catching anything wasn't so bad when SteveL brought hot Kona coffee and a container of fresh brownies made by his daughter.