Classic Ed

I fished back to back days this past weekend, and it was epic.

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Part I: Intro

Saturday I fished with Captains Makani Christensen (Fly Fishing Hawaii) and Chris Wright (Aloha Fly Fishing). The next day we were joined by Sean, owner of Nervous Water, thee fly shop in Honolulu. And out on the flat, we bumped into none other than the venerable Ed Tamai. Basically, I spent two days with the royalty of fly fishing in Hawaii. I’m still not sure how I got lucky enough to spend time on the water with all these guys. I guess I land just enough fish to keep getting invited back. Or maybe my jokes are funny.

Part II: The Warm Up

On Saturday morning we fished pretty hard during the rising tide. There were a lot of fish moving onto the flat, but I couldn’t get any of them to bite. At one point I stopped wading and stood at the upwind end of a shallow, sandy depression. Fish after fish swam towards me and I made cast after futile cast. I even tried a bunch of different flies, from heavy lead to tiny bead chain eyes. The fish didn’t bolt, they just seemed uncomfortable and consistently avoided the area where my fly was waiting.

When I met back up with Makani and Chris, I confirmed that they were having the same experience. The fish were there, and they were visibly eating something, but they just didn’t seem interested in our flies. Chris joked “on days like this, I always tell my clients ‘that was a nice warm up, now we’ll move to the good spot!'”

We did change spots, walking downwind as the tide began to ebb. Finally, we started to get some action. I spotted a couple of fish far out, just a couple of blurry green torpedoes gliding over the bottom. Not wanting to let them get close, where they might develop a case of the nerves, I made a long cast with my light orange & tan shrimp. I waited for the fly to settle, stripped twice and felt a fish grab it.

While I was fighting my fish, I saw Makani hook one on the far side of the flat – the elusive double hookup!

Just a few minutes after we released our fish, I watched Chris hook up too. I know I landed a second fish but I lost track of how many fish we ended up with total. It turned out the morning was just a warm up. (You can watch a video of the action on YouTube.)

Part III: Triple Double

The next morning we met up at the crack of 9 am. We motored out on Chris’s skiff and anchored near the middle of one edge of the flat. We spotted Ed’s yellow boat way up at the top end, and Ed stalking along the edge of the mangroves.

Since it worked the day before, I tied on another orange and tan shrimp. I saw some fish as I waded slowly down the flat, but I didn’t have a good chance until I got close to the mangrove island at the bottom of the flat. I spotted a fish moving towards me though a sandy patch. Years ago, I learned from Ed that sometimes you have to make a quick cast, but other times you can stand and watch a fish for a bit. This fish was swimming slowly so I watched it for beat and thought about how to proceed. I decided that the fish was definitely moving upwind and so I made a cast all the way across the top of the sand patch, placing my fly far in front of it. As soon as I was set, the fish slowed down, waaaaay down. It wasn’t doing much of anything, just swimming very, very slowly. The temptation to re-cast closer was strong, and I was getting tired of crouching down, but I had laid a good trap, and the fish was still coming. So I waited. Finally, the fish came near. Smoothly, I stripped in line until my fly was positioned in the fish’s path. Suddenly, the chase was on. The fish turned left and accelerated. I paused and when it stopped to grab my fly I set the hook.

That was fish number one. The next three fish I caught were all double hook-ups. Two with Makani and one with Chris. We actually had a triple hook-up at one point, but Sean lost his fish when it broke him off on a mangrove.

It was a great day of fishing. I think we landed about a dozen bonefish between the four of us. Of course when we met up with Ed later, we learned that when he was fishing the top of the flat, where we had seen him earlier that morning, he had hooked fifteen. That’s classic Ed.

Note: A video from the second day is also up on YouTube: Watch it Here

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