The Bubble

Last weekend I went papio fishing with my friend Chris. The surf was small and the early morning low tide looked ideal, but the reality was totally different than predicted.


Reefs that should have been completely exposed at the low tide level were one to two feet under water. Reaching the actual fishing grounds was nearly impossible and even in the shallowest spots we were constantly fighting breaking waves.

These abnormally high water levels have actually been the norm for several years, and are due to a “bubble” of water around the Hawaiian Islands. I have not found any explanation for this phenomenon. I did find some articles that associated El Nino events with higher water levels, but I don’t believe that those conditions would persist for so long. Climate change is the next culprit that comes to my mind, but I don’t think anyone knows yet.

I looked through some NOAA water level data, and I had to go back to 2015 before I found a graph where the actual water level fluctuated both above and below the prediction, which is what should happen (if the prediction is any good).

The current conditions (see the 2020 graph, above) are a lot higher than predicted. The recorded water levels are about 6-8 inches deeper than the prediction, which is a dramatic difference in Hawaii where a two foot tide change is considered big.

Despite some good bonefish days this Spring, fishing overall seems to be worse. Of course, it’s hard to say if the relationship is causal. Despite the conditions, Chris and I caught a couple of small fish, and had fun exploring.

For now though, I need to go clean up the yard in case we get walloped by Hurricane Douglas…

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