Lake Wilson, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 14, 2010
SteveL called me just four hours after I got off an American Airlines flight to Hawaii. The message was short. He said, "Stan just called and said we'd better take our vitamins because the fishing is hot."

I don't know how SteveL did it, but he managed to talk my lovely wife into letting me go fishing all day for Peacock Bass at
Lake Wilson with local fishing guru Stan Wright the day after I arrived in the islands. I fished there last year with Stan and Steve and it was a pretty decent day, so I was looking forward to getting another shot at those Peacocks and Red Devils.
We met Stan at Lake Wilson, which is really one of the largest reservoirs in Hawaii and was used primarily for crop irrigation when sugar and pineapple were the major agricultural crops on the island. Now it's used primarily for flood control and recreational fishing. The water level was quite low because and getting lower to facilitate repairs to the pump stations, spill way and dam gates.

We quickly headed to an area Stan and his son Chris,
who's a professional guide, had fished the past few days. We rigged our fly rods with size 8 gold-colored streamers and began to bang the banks and cover for Peacock Bass and Red Devils.

"When you see the fish charging for your fly, don't stop your strip. Just go faster," said Stan. A few minutes later I had a fish attempt to grab the fly as I was sweeping it out of the water to shoot another cast towards the bank. the fly was moving fast, but Stan said that's what the Peacock Bass want--prey that's fleeing. And a fast-moving fly doesn't give the fish a chance to really get a good look at the offering.
As the boat moved slowly down the shore we would fire off casts then quickly strip the fly out to deeper water before recasting and doing it all over again. Fish were interested and would follow the fly, but few were committing to biting. And the Red Devils were lethargic. I could pull the fly right over the fish and they'd either just move over a few inches or just stay in that spot and let the fly pass over them. With the water level dropping day to day, we suspected that this was putting the fish off the bite.

Instead of banging the bank I decided to try a little deeper. I lengthened the leader and put a longer tippet and changed to a baitfish pattern. I cast just off the bank and let the fly sink for a 10 to 15 count then began a quick strip back to the boat. That worked. I picked up several Peacock Bass using this method, especially around sunken timber or rock outcrops.
This reservoir is a mini-Amazon River. Folks have been dumping their unwanted freshwater fish here for years so whatever you see in the pet stores, you'll see in Lake Wilson. Besides gamefish like the Peacock Bass you also have largemouth bass, channel catfish and snakedheads. The Red Devils, cichlids, aren't a gamefish but they are plentiful and put up a great fight. You'll also see several varieties of carp, prehistoric catfish, suckers, goldfish, angelfish, tetras, shad and who knows what else.

Stan noted that there weren't many fish busting baitfish on the surface. We saw one event, which was awesome. The water just boiled with fish hitting bait from below but it occurred behind our boat and although Stan managed to turn us broadside and we could fire off several casts, none of us managed to get a strike before the action died down.
Steve was having his way with the Red Devils and got several nice fish. And although Stan was driving the boat and getting us into casting position, he managed to get two really nice Peacocks--the biggest of the day. He used an extremely small, white surface popper and the fish seemed to like that a lot.

After nine hours on the water and some pretty decent action we decided to call it a day and head back to the ramp. Stan was extremely generous with his time and his expertise on this body of water gave SteveL and I some decent shots at the Peacocks and Red Devils of Lake Wilson.
EQUIPMENT: I used a fast action 5 weight rod with floating line. Next time I'd use a line with a more aggressive forward taper for this sort of fishing because you're doing lots of casts at relatively short range, maybe 15 feet and closer, so a heavier head would load the rod better than the standard head I was using. The Peacock Bass and Red Devils aren't leader shy, so 3X or 4X is plenty. Use fluorocarbon if you're fishing subsurface.

DIRECTIONS: Take the H-1 freeway going west then the H-2 freeway, Exit 8A going north to Mililani. Take Exit 8, Wahiawa and get into the right lane. After crossing over a bridge turn right at the stop light onto Avocado Street. About 50 yard from this point turn right then enter Wahiawa Freshwater Park. You will see restrooms on your right and just past the restrooms turn right and go downhill to a parking area and boat ramp.