Honolulu, Hawaii, August 18, 2009
Local anglers say this is the place where trophy bonefish roam. Bring your big guns, they say, because you and your gear will be tested. Severely.

With a break in the weather (sort of) SteveL, SteveT and I decided to spend the day fishing Triangle Flats on Oahu.
There was a moderate breeze blowing out of the valley and over the lagoon as we launched our kayaks from the rocky beach. The small surface chop slapped against the sides of the kayaks but did not present a problem as we paddled towards the low mangrove scrub that stood up above the tide line on Triangle Flats.

We quickly secured our kayaks and assembled the rods. After a quick conference concerning who was going to fish where, we separated and moved across the wide flat to begin our search for o'io, or bonefish.
SteveL was way in front of me working his way up the right side of the deep channel. The tide was about to turn and when it did large bonefish would surge up from the depths to fan out across the sand flats in search of crabs, mantis shrimp and worms. There were several open cuts in the reef and these were the spots to concentrate your casts.

The action was very slow. I had one hit pretty deep that cut off all the deer hair on the fly. It was as if someone took a razor blade to the fly and trimmed off all the hair. It was a straight cut across the top and I assumed it was probably a puffer fish with its sharp beak that did the damage. I also had a follow on the fly as I stripped it up over the drop-off but the fish turned and ran back to the depths when it saw me.
SteveT was fishing near a large wreck and when we met up later he said he had a shot at a large o'io that spooked when the fly landed too close. He added that the fish were really sensitive today and we had to have our finesse game on. SteveT would lead the fish enough to land the fly softly, but when they approached and he gave the fly a very small strip, the bones would spook and scatter.

He was heading further up the flats so I decided to try my luck on the interior since working the outer edge wasn't producing fish. As I slowly walked I saw lots of
mantis shrimp about 3 to 4-inches long and lots of crabs, some very large. It wasn't long before I spotted a pod of tailing bonefish heading towards me.

I fired off a cast with about 40-feet of line and laid the fly down well in front of the approaching fish. They were slowly making their way down the flats, moving in a tight zig-zag pattern from left to right. The water was about 2-feet deep and very clear. I had the fly on a tight line but sitting still as the fish swam into the area. One of the o'io was about 2-feet away when I gave the fly a tiny strip to get its attention. I should have tried to bean the fish with a rock instead. The results would have been the same. The entire school spooked badly and the only thing left in front of me were swirls of sand and mud where each fish used to be.
OK. So maybe stripping the fly wasn't a good idea. I knew SteveT said they were spooky, but that was a tiny, tiny strip and if they ran at that imperceptible movement there was a problem. So on with the hunt. I continued down the interior of the flats and 30 minutes later spotted another bunch of fish slowly feeding their way towards me. These fish appeared out of the glare and surface ripples so they were pretty close, under 20-feet away, so I cast a bit of fly line and mostly leader at them then let the fly sit.

And there it sat. And sat. And sat. The fish were feeding all around it and nobody was interested in the fly. The bones finally spooked when one of them ran into the fluorocarbon leader. Again, I was left standing there with swirls of sand and mud marking the spot where bonefish once swam.
We broke for lunch and downed a bunch of spam musubi and fresh-cut veggies topped with bottled water. Once that was put away we grabbed the kayaks and moved on to another location.

There was a deep channel cut into the flats and as the tide rose this area was used as a transit point by feeding bonefish. SteveT strung us out along the best spots and we flogged the water to a froth as we threw heavily weighted flies. Cast, cast, cast. Again and again and again. Fast strip. Slow strip. Sink deep and strip. Nothing. Finally Steve L hooks up with a small jack crevalle (papio) then shortly later a small bonefish. We swap spots in the lineup and change up on flies and presentation but it seems like nobody on the reef wants to play. I catch a rock with my lead-eye size 2 shrimp fly.
It was the early part of a little past 4pm when we decided to call it a day and paddle back. The wind had really picked up and there were white caps in the channel. This was going to be ugly. We quickly broke down the gear and tied everything down to the decks of our kayaks then pushed off into the channel from behind the mangroves.

As expected, the paddle back to the main island was wet and very ugly. But we made it. Soaked, tired and an little frustrated we analyzed our day and concluded that we all had a shot at fish but for some reason just couldn't get it done today. But we'll be back!

EQUIPMENT: We used fast action 9 and 10-weight rods with floating lines and fluorocarbon leaders with 20 to 30-pound tippets. We used a variety of shrimp and crab flies from size 2 to 8 in various patterns and colors with lead eyes, bead-chain eyes or mono-eyes.