Hawaii 5-0 part III

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The truth was that I had no such plan. I had always figured that one would need a super long leader to stop a shark from biting through the line, and figured that any big shark would release itself by biting through the line well before he came up, but these guys said that the only important section was that short strip of wire. I left it to the “Cross that bridge when you come to it, plus I can always cut the line” idea. I always carry a bunch of tools on me that I can use to quickly cut the line. These include a knife attached to my PFD, as well as a tool made for just these occasions when one might need to cut through heavy line in a hurry.

This brings up another point about big game fishing on a yak. Not just big game fishing, but fishing in waters where truly giant fish stand a decent chance of taking the bait. What is one to do if such a beast takes the bait, as in a marlin of over 400 pounds, or a tiger shark, and they end up going crazy near your yak? Or they end up changing directions quickly when they are towing you, and by keeping hold of the rod, you are likely to capsize? Is it ethical to cut the line? Couldn’t the marlin get tail wrapped by the cut line and die? Or how’s about just tossing the rod and reel if one is in a bad spot, as in if a huge fish is making a beeline for you? It’s easy to make boldly ethical armchair proclamations about what one would do in this event. And I think that one could even say that, given these possibilities, it may be irresponsible to fish from a yak in these waters. But more people are killed by bee stings than being yanked off their kayaks and drowned or eaten, so I say, if that’s how you live life, why leave the house?

Anywho, I’m looking at the heaving boat, and they’re telling me about tiger sharks, and I get to thinking, “Is this really worth the risk of being next to the moving boat in these conditions?” So I decided, let’s have me drop a bait down from the boat, and if I hookup, and it seems like a big but not monstrous fish, I can launch and fight. 

That’s exactly what happened. It was on my TLD-30 2 speed, and it hit like a ton of bricks. As soon as I set the hook they launched the yak, carefully passed me the rod, and I went off without a paddle. Who needs a paddle when you’re being towed? This fight was another brutal one, but I

think the 2 speed reel really just gives one a great edge. 

The first part of the fight, getting the fish out of its element, was the hardest, and then the rest was a long hard slog as well, but the fish was not going on steaming runs like it was in the beginning. After maybe 30-40 minutes, I got it to leader, and it was a large kahala (amberjack).

Mind you, not as big as they get, since the week before the same captain boated a 130 pounder (!), but big for me. In Spanish they call these fish “Pez Fuerte”, or strong fish, and they deserve this reputation in my book.

We did the whole, get me back on board after I give them the fish and gear routine, but after I sat down panting on the deck of the boat, I didn’t have that great feeling of satisfaction that I’ve had on previous fish. It was almost as if I was Count Dracula in his castle and the torch wielding mob was outside chanting, “Not pure! Not pure!” I’m sure none of you would have felt like this, but I’m just about the vainest person I know, and I am very competitive, so I started to feel even worse about it.

At this point, Captain ---- said, “Are you sure you don’t want to try dropping the bait down from the kayak?” This was just what I needed, a little push, and so I jumped out of my doldrums and said, “Ok, lets do it!”

Well, now the seas were even choppier, and I needed to devise a plan to put myself into the kayak without endangering myself. The guys put the yak in the water and held it close to the swimstep with a rope. Hey, maybe I can jump into the water and then climb onto the yak, I thought. So that was the bright idea. Except that I changed it, and instead of just jumping into the water, I kind of plopped onto the yak, chest first, so that my legs were dangling in the water, and then I pulled myself onto the yak, as if I was getting back in after capsizing. Not graceful, but it worked.  They handed me the paddle and the rest of the gear, including a rod baited with a fat live skipjack weighted down, and I took it, paddled a safe distance from the boat, and dropped it down.

It took a  long time for it to get to the bottom, so long that my reel was well into the spectra backing. I began my wait, and after about five minutes, the bait began to move. Slowly at first, then gaining speed. I counted to ten and then tightened down, and I was on! YAHOO! It seemed like a very tough fish, and I was so glad to have made the extra effort to hook it from the yak. The monkey was off my back and I was very happy. Now to land the fish. This was another brute, and again the hardest part was gaining the first 300 feet of line back onto the reel. I did it all in the low gear, one painful half crank at a time. Once in awhile he would run back down, and the rod would almost slam onto the yak.

Finally I got it to leader and hand lined it in. It was very fat and I was thrilled. I brought it onto my lap and it thrashed violently. It had hat fat circle hook dangling from its lip, and I didn’t want that to get me, either, so I ripped at its gills. It still wouldn’t stop moving, and I quickly remembered how Spike told me that Rhino reached past the gills of a big halibut, punched through a membrane, and ripped the heart out. So I proceeded to try that and , assuming you don’t enjoy the gory details as much as I do, let’s just say ,that, uh, it worked. Wink wink.

I don’t know what the “official” kayak record is for a amberjack, but I haven’t really even heard of people landing ones this big.

 I estimated it to be about 40-45 pounds, maybe bigger, and I  couldn’t wait to weigh it. We weighed it twice on the boat, and both times it came out somewhere over 45 pounds. It had a 49 inch length and a 24 inch girth, and wouldn't

fit in the giant cooler they had . I  inadvertently sat on the cooler and after awhile it smushed in, with it’s tail still sticking out a bit.

When we arrived at the dock, I wanted to get an official weight, so went over to the dock’s scale, where they hang grander marlins on giant steel girders. We took the fish out, and the teenage girls who operated the machine were not in the least excited. I found that hilarious. Man, if there ever was a job I would have loved  to have when I was in high school, it would be this one, but these girls looked like they’d rather be wearing one of those silly striped hats at a pretzel shop in a mall. To each his own, right?

The machine hoisted it up, and it came out to…a measly 35 pounds!! What the heck! I was flummoxed until I realized that it was the first fish I caught, not the second, and larger one. We laughed at our mistake and put the longer one on. This time, it came out to……...

34.5 pounds!!!!!!!!! It will suffice to say that I recommend that if you are happy with what you think your fish weighs, don’t weigh it. If you insist on weighing it, and you can live with the number that you get from your 35 dollar scale, then again, accept that weight as fact and pat yourself on the back. But by all means, stay away from an official one!

How could this great discrepancy in weight have happened? I really don’t know… maybe it had a heavy heart, and when I ripped that out, it weighed 10 pounds less. Yeah right. Maybe it lost some pounds in blood weight and so forth, but it couldn’t have lost over ten pounds, so that’s about the end of it.

In either case, the trip proved to be most fruitful. In two trips, I lucked out with 4 fish, renowned fighters weighing in at between 30 to 46 pounds. Captain Bob was the one who made this plan hatch, and I am grateful to him. The 2 speed reels with spectra proved perfectly suited to the task, and gave me hope that I might be able to bring in fish that are much bigger. Finally, I am most grateful for the torch wielding mob in my head that shamed me into jumping into the yak for that last amberjack. Pure fun, indeed!


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