I met Mark Rogers, a fishing guide from Naples, Florida, during a photo shoot for a company selling inflatable rafts. We started talking and we share some of our best fishing charters stories. As fishing guides, there was an instant bond between us. Although we guide anglers 4,000 miles apart and target different fish, we found a common bond. The stories we shared often started with, “I had this one charter…” or “I took this guy fishing….” I found it fascinating! Within the first couple of minutes, I already knew this was a guy you would want to fish with. Seeing an opportunity for both of us, I offered to take him fly fishing for the elusive Hawaiian bonefish. The deal was struck and we set sail on Sunday 17 February 2019.
We met at the ramp around 9:00 am, just when the tide was at its lowest in Honolulu Harbor. I had already formulated a plan the night before on where we would be when the tide reached a certain level. On the low tide, the fish tend to bunch up in certain areas of the reef, and that would be our opportunity to land one of these bonefish. My mission was to help Mark land one of these giants.
By 10:45, we were on a bed of loose coral about 10 feet across that stretched in from the surf by about 100 feet. We were standing in water that was less than 1-foot deep, and to either side of this coral beds was a small channel about 3 feet wide. The bed of coral acts as a natural funnel for bonefish feeding in the area. Over the years, we have caught a few giants at this location and have learned to utilize topography to our advantage.
Makani: “Mark, cast ten feet at 12 o’clock.”
With a smooth cast, Mark hits the target. The bone sees it, follows the fly, and doesn’t take it.
Makani: “Eat it! Eat it! You mother f**ker,” (referring to the fish).
At this point, I smartly gave a disclaimer about my profanity. I explained that out of all the tours I do, I only swear on the fishing tours. I conduct a lot of tours around Hawaii not just fishing, with Keawe Adventures and I will never swear on those tours. However, when we fish, all bets are off. I drop “f-bombs” sometimes more than others. Today might have been one of those days when I dropped more “f-bombs” than ever before.
As Mark and I talked, our conversation turned to sharing the craziest stories we’ve heard on our fishing charters. I immediately recalled one story that I had heard from a paramedic working in Las Vegas. Hands down, it’s the gnarliest story I’ve ever heard. I had to share it with Mark.
The guy who told me the story had served in the Las Vegas Fire Department as a paramedic. He fished with me a few months back, but the story he told me that day seared an everlasting image in my mind.
The paramedic responded to a call that took him to an apartment building near the strip in Las Vegas, where he encountered one of the most peculiar and mind-blowing scenes. He explains the story in all its gory detail (be warned). Arriving on the scene, he entered the room to find two individuals. A female victim was lying on the floor with severe wounds to her face around her mouth. The overall appearance resembled The Joker. This woman had managed to eat her own face off. What? Yes, she ate her own face, furiously chewing through her own lips. How the hell did this happen?
The paramedic turns to the other individual, a semi-conscious gentleman on the couch, to find out how this happened. This individual was so out of it, he probably felt like he was the couch. To put it bluntly, he looked high as sh*t.
His response was less then comprehendible both in subject and volume, “Bath salts my n*gga, bath salts. Up the a**.”
The paramedic asked again, only to receive a more forceful and garbled response, “N*gga, I told you. Bath salts up the a** with that,” he said, pointing at the turkey baster on the counter. This guy seemed to be the pimp of this (once) attractive young lady, probably in her early twenties. Medical examination later identified pieces of her lips and cheeks in her stomach.
If we learn anything from this story, let it be to stay away from drugs and keep the bath salts in the tub.
We continued our hunt for bonefish on the flats, stopping briefly at certain areas where the bottom topography was perfect to wait, or if we saw a fish heading our way. As the sun disappeared and then reappeared, a bonefish surprised us only a few feet away from where we stood. We had many opportunities to present the fly, but again and again the bonefish took off. I changed the fly nearly 25 times, only for my profanity to steadily increase. Mark and I fished, shoulder to shoulder, as I attempted time and time again to help him hook his first Hawaiian bonefish.
Mark is an experienced fisherman with more than 35 years of experience. He fished professionally in the bass tournaments across the United States, with first place prizes in excess of $50,000. He is also the premier guide in Florida, targeting a variety of local fish on spinner rods and on the fly.
With the tide rolling in, we took the boat to another fishing location- The Triangle. The tide was perfect. It was a small tide in the afternoon, a limited window when the fish roll onto the reef. At this point, the water was about 6-inches deep with 10-lb bonefish tailing everywhere. Half of the fish were out of the water as they arched their backs to feed. Mark and I went nuts casting well in front of these fish. Our plan of attack was to cast about 10 feet in front, so when they got to that spot, they would see the fly in its most natural looking state. On The Triangle, Mark and I hunted, about 100 feet between us. The fish were looking, but still not biting. Hiding near a mangrove, I spotted 3 giant bones. First shot- miss. Another shot- miss again. F-bombs were flying. I look over at Mark to see a giant bonefish headed in his direction. I shout it out. He sees the bone coming in, giving a couple of casts. The fish was still about 50 yards out but closing in quickly. Within moments, the fish halved that distance, now only 25 yards out. Mark casts again. As the fish closes in on the fly, he moves it. The fish jumps on it, looks, and then bolts. An explosion of spray and white water as the fish thrashes in the shallows making noises that sound like fire crackers. Absolute mayhem.
This happened maybe 5 or 6 more times during our expedition, each time increasing our determination. By this time, I had gone through my entire arsenal of flies, putting each one to the test. As the tide drained out, the fish headed out from the reef and we finally called it a day.
This was a pretty typical day out on the flats. Although we didn’t land any bonefish, it was an epic hunt. What made this day truly special was the camaraderie between us. Two guides from different parts of the world, hunting for bones in Hawaii and bringing crazy stories together. Some more gnarly than others.