Oahu Bonefishing, November 31st, 2016 Trip Summary: On our way over to Hawaii before continuing on to Christmas Island, we laid over on the Island of Oahu for a couple of days. I had always heard that Oahu had freakish bonefish that grew as large as 18 pounds and that the flats fishing was both underrated and could be really good if the conditions were right. We were lucky enough to hook up with Captain Rick Lee of "Bonefish Hawaii" who had a last minute cancellation. Without hesitation, we met him at the Marina curious to see if the rumors we had heard about Hawaii bonefish were true. The weather we had on November 31st was stormy, windy and cloudy – not exactly perfect conditions for chasing bonefish. However, despite these odds being stacked against us, Captain Rick found a couple of windless lees where we were able to walk some soft muddy flats casting to giant cruising bonefish. When I saw my first bonefish that was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 14 pounds, I was absolutely shocked. Flubbbing my cast, that fish bolted off heading for deeper water and leaving a vapor trail of mud in its wake. Frustrated, I ended up spooking or blowing out a half dozen fish as I walked the first flat we tried. Diane was on a different line, and fishing slightly deeper water, and did not have the kind of action I experienced. At one point we got in the boat and poled an adjacent flat where we spotted about a 40 Lb. GT resting. We made several casts to it, but it showed no interest. Captain Rick Lee poled right up to it within a few feet of the boat, and the fish casually turned and swam away with no sense of urgency at all. Maybe it was sick, or tired, we don’t know, but it was really odd to witness. After the GT episode, the sky unleashed a blinding torrent of rain and we pulled over to wait out the storm and eat some lunch. Soon the squall passed, and Rick took us out to some deeper flats out in the middle of the bay that weren’t protected from the nasty wind. Out in the middle, we bobbed up and down on rollers and somehow Rick managed to spot fish in the rough conditions. For the next two hours or so, we hooked multiple large bonefish only to have them take blistering runs wrapping our fly line around an obstacle course of coral, or breaking off our fly on the strip set. If your fish heads for the coral, the technique for catching the fish and saving your fly line is to let the line go completely slack and then slowly pole forward with the boat unwrapping the bonefish origami and picking the slack line out of the coral as you go. If you are lucky, the bonefish will be somewhere at the end tired from its blistering run and you can get control of them again. All the fish we hooked broke off and we never got one to the boat. Ironically, this was on 16-20 pound test leaders which is usually ridiculous for bonefish . All in all, I think we hooked about 6 bonefish out of maybe 25 spotted. All of them were most likely over 8 pounds, and we casted at some giants that maybe pushed the 15 pound mark. On the flight to Christmas Island, I coincidentally sat next to Captain Mike Hennessey of "Hawaii on the fly" on the plane. Mike is also a bonefish guide on Oahu and had been the only other boat fishing the day we were out with Captain Rick Lee. I told Mike about our experience seeing the giants on the morning flat, and about the fish we had hooked and lost out in the open water. Mike raised his eyebrows in approval and said that was an exceptional day in Hawaii and he credited the bad weather to the successful hookups. Apparently when it’s flat calm and crystal clear, these fish are so wary it takes tiny flies and specialized techniques to get them to bite. Mike then pulled up some of his bonefish pictures on his laptop and showed me some of the fish I had seen on the muddy flat that morning. It seemed he knew right where I was fishing and had names for some of the fish. At least one fish was 14 pounds plus, and Mike had pictures of 3 different anglers holding the same fish as evidenced by a yellow spot on its side where a scale had gone missing. In the background was the same flat I had walked. He showed me a couple of others over 15 pounds that had also been caught by multiple anglers over the years. Mike said the fishery is very sensitive and many of these gigantic bones are resident fish that habitually cruise the same flats. He confirmed if you really want to get a picture with a 15+ pound bonefish, Oahu was the place to do it and I can confirm the fish really are there. We really liked fishing with Captain Rick Lee and will never go back to Oahu again without trying to book him several months in advance. For anyone heading to Christmas Island, you should take a day on Oahu and try for a trophy bonefish. We think the experience is totally underrated and totally worth it.

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