Posted by: Bonefish Hawaii | June 18, 2011

Just Another Day in FlyFishing Paradise…

Many things in my life have changed over time but one theme has remained a constant I have done my very best to live in fly-fishing paradise! Whether that has been on Monster Bonefish Flats in Hawaii, the Best Atlantic Salmon Rivers in Russia, the amazingly beautiful Trout Rivers of Argentina, the mysterious Steelhead Streams of the Pacific Northwest, or the Finest Trout Waters in the American West, I have had the great luck in living in these places and this blog will tell you a bit about them.  Pull up a chair, I hope you enjoy it!

I am guessing that some of you have been hearing stories lately about some really Big Bonefish caught on flies in Hawaii. Some of these stories are probably true and some, well…. We have done our best to keep things quiet for the past 35 years or so, but you know how that works. I’ll start back in the early 1970’s with some of my personal experiences to put it in perspective.

I grew up on the South Shore of  the Island of Oahu in Hawaii. Back in the day my little brother and I really loved to fish, we would head for our favorite spot down the street at the Beach Park where a small fresh water canal entered the ocean. This fresh stream entering salt was just the place to find predator and prey alike. We started out with cane poles, a small hook and split shot, then gradually expanded our horizons to spinning tackle. We caught many small Bluefin Trevally (Papio in the local lexicon), Goatfish (Weke), and the occasional highly prized Bonefish (Oio).  We improved on our game and equipment over time. The Hawaii Fishing News tide chart was always on the refrigerator door and we became pretty deadly with a light leader, small slip sinker, and a live Hawaiian Shrimp (‘Opae).

Things really changed when we found an old cane fly rod and fly reel  in the back of my Grandpa’s closet. The aluminum rod tube protected a faded green rod sock with a tag the read H.L. Leonard.  A fly reel was squirreled away nearby on a high shelf in its soft flannel bag, at the time the amber-colored braided flyline did not make any sense to us at all. Old or not, fishing gear was hard to come by in those days and we snuck that rod out the back door the first chance we got. The three-piece rod was initially graced with a Garcia Mitchell 302 spinning reel and did fairly well loaded with 8lb test mono. I know, this is making you Cane Rod Aficionados cringe… I had somewhat of an epiphany later that summer while visiting an Uncle in Utah. A week-long backpacking trip into the High Uintah Mountains included my first experience with real fly-fishing. I returned home to Hawaii with a whole new perspective on flyfishing.

When I returned home the cat was out of the bag. The Medalist Reel was quickly reinstalled and I began to test hook, fur, and feather on anything that would bite. The late summer appearance of  6-8 inch Papio at the Beach Park peaked just as my interest in this new weapon did. I quickly lost most of the Mickey Finns and Grey Ghosts in Grandpa’s box. Those that remained rusted immediately with the numerous deep wades I took to reach new spots. I soon concluded that the rubber Glitter Strips (first generation plastic bait) we occasionally used on our spinning rods were equally, if not more deadly, on the fly rod.

I recall how proud I was to return home on my bicycle from one of these expeditions with a half-dozen small Papio and my first Bonefish!  He had taken a small glitter strip on a blind cast in knee deep water. The undressed braided flyline provided  the perfect slow-sinking presentation and I assume that the plastic bait was taken as a shrimp or small Anchovy (Nehu) that frequented the area. His first long run led me to believe that he was a large Papio, or possibly even an Ulua, (Giant Trevally which can reach 100lbs or more). After a few lesser runs he came to my red dip net and was quickly retired to my over-the-shoulder, home made, cotton fish bag.

That evening my Grandmother prepared a fine meal of  “Fish Cake.”  The small bonefish was lightly pounded on both sides with the side of a Coke bottle, the fish’s tail was then cut off and the light pink meat squeezed through the opening by using the bottle much as you would a rolling pin-head to tail. The delicate meat (sans many fine bones) was mixed with bread crumbs, herbs and deep fried. I can almost taste them now…. For more Monster Bonefish Tales along with Guided Fly Fishing in Hawaii go to: