Hawaii 5-0 part II

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Back to the fishing. As soon as we began to exit the harbor, (still pitch black) Fred began to attach wahoo jets to my trolling sticks, since the ‘hoos roam close to shore. I wanted to hook a wahoo from the yak, but I’m not gonna tell these experts not to troll on the way to the grounds. We didn’t get any hits and when we reached an area about 2 miles off of Kailua, we commenced to trolling for baits. They use small 30 lb. outfits with little hoochies on them to catch skipjacks. If the bait is reeled is in good shape with no jaw problems, they put it in a tuna tube, which keeps them still and flushes fresh salt water through their gills. Fred was using an inverted orange road cone, with a saltwater hose pumping water through the tip (fish goes in the pointy end face first). The baits stayed remarkably fresh like this.

When we got to the site where Bobby was metering a lot of fish, they baited one of my   6/0 rigs up with a setup that can only be described as hellaciously evil looking. We’re talking about using a 20/0 circle hook bridled through the skipjack’s eye socket, so that the hook is only attached to the bait by a Dacron cord that is placed through the edge of the eye socket with a special needle. Either that or a double hook bridled in the eye socket and a single circle in the tail, both attached by single strand wire, which is very popular there.

This first day, it was harder to catch bait than fish, for as soon as they rigged me up, the baits got hit, many times by wily wahoo who slashed the bait in half while somehow avoiding the three hooks! I went through a lot of bait trolling on the yak that way. Finally, Fred set up a rig again, with the same terminal setup attached to a 15 foot piece of 400 pound mono. He handed me the rod from the boat to my yak , and the bait immediately got taken by a substantial fish.

The weird thing about using a roller guide rod rated 80-130 # with 60 # test on a 6/0 reel is that as soon as a big fish is on, it feels as though someone handed you a bag which looked empty but actually contained a 50 pound weight. The reel is set to such a high drag setting to keep the fish hooked and off the rocks, and the rod gives so little, that it’s like going from zero to fifty in a split second, especially if the fish is pulling straight down, like this one was. One minute you’re holding the rod up, listening to the fish take the bait and counting patiently to ten before setting the hook.. As soon as you tighten down the drag, the rod slams down on the side of your yak, and you go, “Jeeez!!!” There’s no easing in to it.

My arms and back started burning immediately, but I had mentally prepared myself for just this moment. I found that I actually loved the size of this tackle. It was just enough to put enough pressure on the fish to keep him out of the rocks, and although I wasn’t gaining much, I wasn’t losing much either. After a nice long

fight, a large kahala, or amberjack, came to color.

I brought the line to swivel and then handlined him in the rest of the way, which I really enjoyed. Amazing how much power you have over a fish with a 15 foot length of 400 pound mono. It feels great in your hands, at least when you have the fish’s head turned towards you.

By the time I got him to me, he was exhausted, as was I. Having come up from such a depth, maybe 50 fathoms, or 300 feet, he was pretty much toast, as his swim bladder impeded his, uh, being alive. I had constructed a “stick of death” just for this occasion, made out of a PVC pipe stuffed with lead weights in one end and filled up with that hardening foam. It didn’t last long, and proceeded to splinter in the air as I rained down head shots. I had a good time in the hardware store designing this instrument, but next time I will stick with the good old fashioned bat. Or a medieval mace or flail, if I can find one on the internet.

We spent the rest of the day trying to locate more bait and having the wahoo slash it clean in two. At one point we were trolling hoochies for the bait and we had a jethead lure out in the middle position, just in case something neato was around, and BOOM! It gets hit and something takes a lot of line out on it. Fred immediately knew it was a tuna, so I said, let’s go! Either that or land it from the boat, and who wants to do that?

I set the hook better, they immediately put the yak in water, and handed me the rod. It reminded me of a passage in Tiny Bennett’s classic book, The Art of Angling , when he wrote,

          The line peels off a smoking reel, until the angler 

               despairs of ever coming to grips with the fish .”

I was worried that, as in Puerto Vallarta, I would not be able to get up the tuna before he had wiggled the hook around in his mouth enough to make a bigger hole and dislodge it. But the difference was that this time I was ready with heavier tackle to bring the fish up quickly enough.

Soon I found my rhythm, where I would brace the rod against my knee,  put the butt in my groin, and then pull back with my back to approximate the action of a fighting chair. I’ve tried using rod belts in the yak but they never seem to work for me. I’ve already had kids, and I consider bruises resulting from battle my little badge of courage, so I just plant it in the ol’ groin.

It started to work well, but this tuna was not coming up more than a hard earned half crank at a time. However, you can put a lot of wood to a fish on 60 pound test. It felt like just the perfect setup, especially since I needed every edge I could get as the tuna fights completely vertically and negates the usual advantages we yakkers have over most other fish that swim around. This thing just went straight down, and dragged me in backwards circles, so that the rod kept being pulled backwards over my left side. Every so often, despite the reel being locked down, the fish would go on a screaming run straight down, pulling the rod smack down onto the edge of the yak as 20 yards of line screamed off the reel. I was in HEAVEN!!! 

After maybe 45 minutes of hard work, I got a beautiful look at him, a very nice sized yellowfin, and he seemed suspended on his side below me in space as the water was so calm and clear. Fred and Bobby were totally psyched, too. Bobby even jumped into the water to try and get some underwater shots. This usually happens with guys that mothership me. In the morning they’re full of questions and doubt, and by the end of the day, they think this is an interesting approach. 

The boys kept yelling at me from the boat, telling me to gaff it in the head and put my gloves on or I was going to have big problems, so when I got it to the leader, and handlined the wire leader in, I did just that. Needless to say this didn’t sit well with the fish.    It was still very green. As you can see in the picture, as soon as I sunk the gaff in, he started thrashing his tail violently, and since 

he was on the right side of me, he spun the yak around in a circle like a top that had a rocket taped to the side of it. I hung on, and waited for him to stop, but he didn’t, so I put him on my lap and slammed him on the head with the bat. This was not to his liking either, and he shuddered and shook as I bear hugged him, hoping he would stop. Fred shouted to me that he’d calm down, but every time I thought he was done and I let go, he started up again, so I started ripping at his gills with my hands, and enough blood loss occurred to where he calmed down for that one last time.

I was ecstatic at this point. After climbing aboard and transferring all the gear, we weighed him, and he came out to a healthy 46 pounds. This was twelve pounds bigger than the largest one I landed in Puerto Vallarta, but this was caught on bigger gear and hooked from the boat, while I hooked the 34 pounder in PV trolling a bait behind my yak, the “purer” way. Whatever.

I took a couple of days off, and in fact had planned to do no more fishing, other than a ľ day normal boat trip with the wife and kids. You know, the type you take not because you really want to fish from a boat, but just so you can cling to the bogus claim that you’re on a family fishing vacation. This trip seemed to have the desired effect, despite the fact that my kids watched videos in the cabin and my wife slept the whole time. The only hookups occurred on two large 25 pound skipjacks, and believe me, when you land them on 130 pound test on reels the size of jumbo movie popcorn baskets, it kinda takes the fun out of it.

Somehow I managed to come up with the idea that I could afford another day of fishing on one of Bob’s boats. Funny how that works. “I’ll just eat beans for a couple of months,” I told myself. Now it’s almost October, and the tastiest meal I’ve had is a $4.30 chicken sandwich. Still worth it.

I asked Bob if I could have the same crew and boat. “What was so special about those guys?” he asked. “Well, I liked how Fred knew his stuff, and we worked well together.” “No can do, those guys are fishing a tournament. But I can put you on the Carmudgeon with so and so.” And thus began the voyage with so and so.

Again, the boat was huge by my standards. I would have been happy on a boat literally half this size, but I appreciated Bob and his efforts. We went in the opposite direction as the day before. I tried to tell them about the plan, but both of them were more interested in launching into the wahoo lanes ASAP. Okey doke! The fellas’s names were    and    . Great guys.

We began to troll hoochies again for bait, and the seas gradually became choppier than the day before. By the time we had some skipjacks, I was rethinking the original plan, due to the danger of launching and loading up off of the side of the heaving boat. Now, I wouldn’t have thought twice about straight kayak fishing in these seas; they weren’t that rough. But as I’ve said before, those big boats heave and it’s just plain sketchy to be near the side of them.

---- located a ledge where the depth changed pretty dramatically. It was only later that I found out how deep it really was: 100 fathoms, or 600 feet! The depth at this ledge went from 100 to 85 fathoms, and the plan was to drop down a skipjack on a 20/0 circle hook with a 6-8 inch wire leader that was almost as thick as a bicycle lock’s chain, attached to a 15 foot length of 400 pound mono, weighted down with about 8 ounces. The bait are very strong, and I guess they have no problem reaching those depths with the encouragement of a little weight. What was down there, we didn’t really know.

          What’s that wire section on there for? I asked. 

          Oh, in case you hook on to a shark..”

          Oh, ok, the sharks,” I said, trying to sound as if I knew that all along. “What kind again?”

          Tiger sharks. What are you gonna do if you hook into one of those.”

          Well, uh, I’ll cut the line I guess.”


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