The first fish I landed in 2023 was a goatfish, a weke pueo (here is another, better photo of one). The common name for the species is “nightmare weke,” so I didn’t necessarily feel super good about that as a starting point for the year. I did land a couple of small papio after that, which was some consolation, but as hard as I tried I just couldn’t seem to land that first bonefish of the New Year.
I had bonefish reject my fly, ignore my fly, and pick up my fly but not get hooked. I also had a big blue omilu rise on a plug only to turn away and disappear at the last moment. I hooked and almost landed a large bonefish one morning at Keehi Lagoon. Tara was standing by with the camera and Ed was watching the action from afar. Just as I brought the fish close and grabbed the leader the hook popped free and we just stood and watched it slowly swim away off the flat.
This past weekend I put aside my frustration and headed out with Tara to a special spot to try and finally bring a fish to hand. The conditions were passable, and we spotted some fish. They didn’t seem interested in the tan shrimp that I was offering so I switched to a brown crab pattern with long, wiggly legs. I spotted a pair of fish in a small sand pocket and cast to the one on my left. It startled when the fly hit the surface, but the other fish seemed curious and swam over. I gave the crab a short pull and watched the fish follow it, and then tip forward and eat. Luckily it was a small fish, just a few pounds, and I was able to land it fairly easily.
Tara took a few quick photos and I slipped the fish back into the water to rejoin its companion. Since the spot is still a semi-secret, I won’t post the pictures here. Instead, I found an unused photo from last Summer – with a bigger fish!
I was pleased to have landed a fish, but the real redemption was when Tara pointed out that it was actually the first day of the lunar new year. By that reckoning, I landed my first bonefish on New Year’s Day. You can’t start off much better than that!