Fish Art

This is a birthday card I received from my family last Fall. The painting was done by my father, Terry McIlrath. He has been a professional artist since before I was born, and has been drawing, painting and sculpting fish images for just as long.

Fish and art have long been parallel themes in my own life and I guess it is only natural that they have combined in many ways.

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Winter Fishing Blues

I used to get a bad case of the Winter fishing blues every year. I could usually make it to February without going too crazy but eventually I’d bundle up and go looking for something to catch, which was usually nothing at all. For many fishers (especially the carp on the fly variety) Winter is a tough time of year. Even in Hawaii the storm fronts start to roll through weekly and the water temperature falls just enough that the fishing slows down noticeably. This year has been a little bit different. This year, my fishing blues are of a different kind.

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Flats Fishing by Boat

Flats fishing on foot and flats fishing from a boat are fairly different experiences. Like most things, each comes with it’s own advantages and disadvantages. I have spent quite a bit of time fishing solo from an inflatable boat or SUP board, but this was the first year I have spent any meaningful time fishing from an actual boat while being poled by another person. I have yet to really get the hang of it, but I have definitely learned some important lessons, which I thought might be useful to others.

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Oregon 2018 Part 3: How to Catch a Sturgeon on the Fly

The demise of our inflatable boat changed my fishing strategy. I had planned on using the boat to fish for carp on a number of backwaters and lakes connected to the Columbia River. Instead, I had to focus on places with shoreline access. Despite this turn of events, the fishing only got better and the fish only got bigger. I landed a couple of chunks and just missed one beast that was probably over thirty pounds.

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Oregon 2018 Part 2: Listing to Starboard


The view from Oregon to Washington

Ever since we started visiting the Columbia Gorge, Tara has wanted to paddle across the river from Oregon to Washington (visiting different states is a bit of an obsession for people from Hawaii). Last spring we packed up our Sea Eagle inflatable kayak and brought it to our cottage on the Columbia River. I was excited to be able to take it out on the water this summer but the boat was going on ten years old and it had not been inflated in over a year so I decided to start small and work up to an interstate adventure. Continue reading

Oregon 2018 Part 1: Mount Hood Country

We are back to our regular lives in Honolulu. Back to our cat, our garden, our jobs, and back to the salt – the waves, the tides and trade winds, bonefish and papio. A month away is a long time. Significant things happen in a month, and mundane things too, like old water heaters and broken gutters. Things are lost and gained, friends met or missed, places changed or discovered.

July was a pretty big adventure. A lot happened. I will try to put the best of it into words, especially the fishing, but the memories are already blurring a bit. I can’t help but be reminded of the timeless words of Norman Maclean: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Or, perhaps, I am just getting older. Continue reading



Ed hunting triggerfish

If Ed Tamai is Oahu’s most venerable bonefish guide, then Makani Christensen is the Island’s most energetic and ambitious. Both men are dedicated professionals and I can tell that spending time on the water with them has started to push my fly fishing game to the next level. Continue reading