by Captain Makani Christensen, Lead Guide Fly Fishing Hawaii
Every day is different when fishing for the elusive Hawaiian Bonefish. After guiding for a few days in a row, physical and mental exhaustion sets in. Us guides need to decompress! We recover from fishing with -you guessed it- more fishing.
We take the boat to areas we normally would not go with clients, in search of schools of bonefish. This was the case on Saturday, the 19thof January 2019. We headed to Hawaii Kai and launched the boat. With a short window of tide, we set the drift with the parachute employed and fished along the flats. At first, we only saw a few fish, until we finally found the area where all of the fish were hanging out. We fished the area and fished it hard. The winds were blowing at 25 knots. Cast after cast, the fish would come up, bite, and spit the hook- or just turn around. As the tide receded and our ability to drive back to shore slowly diminished, we tried a few more times with no luck.
After drifting 3 more miles down the coast, we finally found the fish again. We anchored and watched the fish come up to the boat, carefully placing each fly well in front the fish, so as not to scare them. Some fish would give chase, or the fly would not get to the bottom fast enough. The idea is to ensure the fish see the fly, while still making the fly look as natural as possible. Of course, not every cast was perfect, but the ones that were on point allowed me to determine which fly pattern to tie next.
When we fish new areas, we often test my new creations in order to later eliminate some of the guess work of which fly to tie the next time we are out with clients. We use scientific experimentation to determine the fish’s reactions to the different patterns, then use this information to perfect the next pattern and weight used.
What went wrong? Were the flies heavy enough? Is it the color of the fly? Of course, the flies work! But we often go back to the fly-tying desk anyways and try something different for the area and tide we just fished.
It is Monday now. The sun is out, and the winds are light. The everlasting challenge and determination to catch these elusive bonefish continues, as I contemplate my return to the flats.