I've been fishing quite a bit lately, trying new techniques, and in general not catching much to speak of. Still, the feeling of reverie while fishing makes it worth going even when the fish aren't biting. But we all know it's better to catch fish than to not catch fish (or "feesh" as I hear it pronounced here).
My friends Ralph and Patra talked me into driving with them to the other side of the island at 2am Sunday morning so we could start fishing before 5am. We loaded up on coffee and sweets, and set out for "the dry side", that is, the Kona side. Side note: In the Hawaiian language the word kona refers to the leeward (opposite of windward) sides of all the islands, but on this island it's also the name of a city on the leeward side, Kailua-Kona, or Kona for short.
We parked at the Honokohau Harbor and hiked over some pahoehoe lava to a nice little spot on the coast to begin our quest for fish. After casting out a few times I caught a nice little fish known as menpachi. It's small but supposedly tasty. I'll find out how tasty when I pan fry it in grapeseed oil.
|Everybody's got something to hide, except for me and my menpachi|
|Ralph is a "lai"er|
|I don't know if it's more amazing that I'm standing horizontally or that the ocean is vertical. Computers have a mind of their own sometimes. It simply will not rotate the pic. Anyway, I'm holding the trumpet fish.|
Things sort of dried up at the harbor except for the spinner dolphins who were putting on an acrobatic show all morning for us. Spinner dolphins naturally just jump out of the water and spin and do amazing flips and whatnot, all without provocation or bribes from whistle blowing dolphin trainers offering tasty sea snacks like they do at places like Sea World. Not to mention the fact that most dolphins at places like Sea World are actually Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (thank you for that tidbit of info, Patra). Atlantic dolphins do not just naturally do flips and acrobatic maneuvers the way spinners do in the wild. So then why...ahh forget it. I'll save that discussion for another post.
As I was saying, things dried up at the harbor so we moved on to another spot known as A-Bay (short for Anaeho'omalu Bay). By the time we got there around 9:30am the sun was already well overhead so I wasn't expecting much. It's a great beach though, and we waded out into the water and up on to some exposed rock to cast-off a few more times. We made a few leisurely casts using our "bubble-teaser" setups (think bobber filled partially with water, dragging the lure 4-5 feet behind and near the surface). I saw an interesting looking fish follow my bait once and then retreat, uninterested. Then, out of the blue, I got a hit. Fish on! I knew right away it was going to be fun if I could keep it on my line and the line didn't break. A split second before it hit I saw the sea rise slightly in a bubbly green-blue hue just behind my lure (it must have missed on its first pass, or was checking it out). Then, it struck and immediately took my line out. I had my drag set a little tight and Ralph yelled at me to loosen it and let the fish take the line before it snapped it. I managed to quickly turn the drag setting a bit (luckily to loosen it, not tighten) and felt the tension ease as the little fighter took my line out with a "vzzzzzzzzzzzzzz". It slowed a bit and I reeled in. Ralph yelled at me again to keep the rod up high (I always forget that rule). I reeled in some more. Then, "vzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz". It took me for another ride. Then another! I thought for sure I was going to lose the great fish. Ralph was jumping around like a madman yelling instructions and cursing at us for not bringing the net or the bucket out to the rock we were standing on. I saw Patra hurriedly wading through the water towards us to see what all the commotion was about.
Up until now I didn't know what I had, but I knew it was something good. The cycle of reeling and then vzzzz'ing continued for a few minutes (seemed like hours). Then, a flash of blue cascaded underneath a big blob of smooth, upwelling water and Ralph belted out, "papio!". Papio is actually a general term for a small fish, but it's most commonly used to refer to certain types of small trevally fish in the genus Caranx. The one on my line was a blue-fin trevally (Caranx melampygus), or omilu, in Hawaiian. It was beautiful, but still fighting. It took my line around some nearby jagged coral/rock sticking out of the ocean, almost as if it knew the line could be cut by dragging it along a sharp edged rock, but I countered its cunning defensive maneuver and moved the line out of harm's way. My heart was racing. I was trying to be patient and not attempt to pull the fish out of the water too quickly for fear of the line snapping. I waited for the fish to stop fighting, then Ralph grabbed it around the tail as soon as he could reach it. This thing was beautiful.
|Omilu, blue-fin trevally|
Unfortunately, because of a foodborne illness called ciguatera that can be contracted by eating fish such as this one, it's recommended that you don't eat them. The fish eat toxin laden algae, which causes the meat of the fish to be toxic to humans. So, I had to return the fish to the sea, but I had no problem with that. I'd rather go back and try to catch it again.