By Makani Christensen
I had the opportunity to guide Ben on one of our Half Day Fly Fishing trips for bonefish. A storm had just swept through the islands, causing the water temperature to drop by at least 3 degrees. The fish had disappeared off the reef. We had about 4 good shots at fish, and saw about 15 fish throughout the day. We managed to catch this fish at Fraggel Rock using the Big Trouble in Little China fly, which has extra-large green eyes.
Leading up to the day, Ben and Roberta had contacted me about their trip to Honolulu. We exchanged some emails and I was able to set fly fishing expectations. When the amount of fish on the reef is limited, it is important to have things to talk about. The conversations dove into the history of the islands and what we ate for dinner. We talked about politics, kids, and weather. At the same time, we were always looking for the the next bonefish, hoping that a fish would pop-up in front of us and give us a perfect opportunity to present the fly.
Some of the flies that Ben created were based on conversations and photos sent back and forth before he arrived on the islands. Every fly fishermen artist has a unique fingerprint or style of their creation. He would send a picture over, and I would respond with, “let’s try that one” or “might want to redo that one.” I was just as excited as Ben about this fishing trip. We tried a few of his creations, which were likely to work, but ended up hooking this fish on one of my go-to flies.
“Ben, let’s try one more spot.” I may have said about 3 or 4 times during the day, hunting for the bonefish on the reef. We needed a good shot. I wasn’t satisfied with the shots we had, and we were determined to catch a fish.
We approached one of the spots on the reef that I unofficially dubbed Fraggel Rock. If you ask other guides the location of Fraggel Rock, you may get the deer-in-the-headlights look. I asked Ben to tighten the drag because of the coral heads. The area is a bed of loose and broken coral the size of a football field with a few giant coral heads. To the left and right of this bed of coral is no-mans land. If the fish ends up in this area you will lose the fish.
With the glare in our eyes, I saw a bone swimming in.
I called out, “Ben, cast 15 yards at 12 o’clock!”
Ben punched the fly 4.5 yards in front of the fish. Perfect! The fish reacted to the fly and rushed. With a couple slow strips, the bonefish was on! The rod looked like it was ready to snap. Ben, an experienced fishermen, held the rod low to keep it from breaking.
Something was wrong! The fish was no longer pulling the line. The backing wrapped over the outside of the reel. Possibly a bird nest that fit through the groves of the reel? Looking at the video you can see the video go sideways. The only way to fix the problem with the line was to take the reel apart. With a quick fix the fight was on again.
Ben wrangled the fish in. You could see the “stoke” or pure joy in hooking one of these bonefish in Ben’s body language, smile and voice. Success! For a few minutes after the fish was caught, Ben mentioned the “shake.” The “shake” is the result of adrenaline pumping through the body due to pure excitement.
This marked another successful fly fishing trip for bonefish in Hawaii. After a few pictures and the successful release of this elusive Hawaiian bonefish, we called it a day. Of course, we took a few more shots on the way back! We headed back to the boat with the images of the day seared into memory.
Makani: “Hey Ben, did you see the Eat?”
Here fishy, fishy, fishy! Here fishy, fishy, fishy!