Lake Wilson, Wahiawa, Hawaii, August 8, 2009
It was an invitation that you just don't refuse. Local fishing legend and professional photographer Stan Wright offered to show SteveL and I how to tackle Peacock Bass and Red Devils with a fly rod at Lake Wilson in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

The lake is the state's largest body of water with a capacity of over 3 billion gallons to help irrigate the fields of Hawaii's booming sugar cane industry. Construction began in 1905 by damming t
he north and south forks of Kaukonahua Stream and by 1906 the reservoir was completed.

Lake Wilson is shaped like a 'V' laid on its side. There is almost 20 miles of shoreline but a good portion of it is not fishable due to the steep slope of the bank. Largemouth bass were introduced in the early 1900s. Channel catfish followed in the 1940s and finally Peacock Bass in the mid- 1960s. However these are only the official state sanctioned inhabitants of the lake. Other denizens include those that were dumped there when they outgrew their aquariums or their owners moved out of the state and decided not to take their finny pets with them. You'll also find lots of Red Devils (which, despite having been thrown into the lake and not stocked, have become quite numerous), Snakeheads, tilapia, goldfish, carp and koi swimming in the reservoir.
We met Stan at the boat ramp and soon we were quickly heading to the far corners of the lake to fish at a few of his favorite fishing holes. He gave us tips on what type of flies to use, where to cast and what sort of action to impart to the fly during the retrieve. We slowly moved down the bank, throwing into blow-downs, grass beds and drop-offs. Stan kept up a lively banter and it was entertaining to hear his fish stories as well as useful information about Lake Wilson, Peacock Bass and the Red Devils.
A tropical storm was passing near the islands and the strange atmospherics was affecting the fishing in the lake. Areas that normally held fish were empty and fish that were usually clustered in the shallows were gone. It was tough fishing but we managed to pull in a few. SteveL hooked up several nice Peacock Bass and a few Red Devils as the day wore on I pulled in a few Red Devils myself and missed one Peacock that rushed the fly as I was pulling it out of the water for my next cast. Throughout all of this Stan was working his butt off to get us lined up in the right spot and to put us onto fish. At one point he pulled out his fly rod to show us how to do business on the lake and promptly hooked up on his second cast. And again on his third.
After a hearty Zippy's Zip Pack lunch we continued to fish for the rest of the afternoon. We pulled in a few fish here and there but Stan said the action was really slow. I thought it was fine and was enjoying myself. It was better than sitting in the office. I wondered what the folks in the cubicle were doing but I quickly ditched that thought and it was back to fishing. We came across several anglers and everyone was having a hard time, even the folks using live bait were not getting any action. After I heard that I felt a little better. At least I didn't suck that bad.
After SteveL landed another Peacock Bass we decided to end on a high note and call it a day. Stan was a great host and I appreciated all the time and effort he put in to make it an enjoyable day on the lake.
DIRECTIONS: from H-1 West take exit 8A, north to Mililani and Wahiawa. Take Exit 8 to Wahiawa and stay in the RIGHT LANE. Immediately after crossing the bridge TURN RIGHT onto Avocado Street and through the gates of the park. Turn right and go down the hill to the parking lot and boat launch ramp. If you're passing an electric transformer farm on your left you've gone too far and missed the turn.

EQUIPMENT: We used 4 and 5-weight rods with floating line and short leaders. Peacock Bass and the Red Devils are not that leader shy. Very small baitfish flies (shad or minnow) from size 8 to 14 or flies with flash and a bit of weight are all that you need here. I caught all of my Red Devils on a shad-type fly.