It rained really hard last week and I waited a day before attempting to kayak fish while the storm system was blocking the trade winds Expecting brown water, I was stunned to see so much debris on the beach. The brown tint extended a half mile out of the protected bay.
My fishing buddies couldn’t make it but since it was forecast to be the lightest wind day that week, I paddled out for more damashi training. Taking the advice of friends, I brought 4 to 8 oz lead weights with pre-tied line, short 2-hook damashi rigs and Gulp grups. The best thing about the gear was that it was stuff I had around the house. The lead weights were from my grandfather’s pre-1970 shore casting days.
On the previous outings I had marked clouds of bait with my new Garmin Echomap 44CV in the 100 to 125 ft depth range but on this day a bait cloud passed under me at 55 ft. I dropped a damashi rig with 2 small artificial fish skin hooks weighted by a 4 oz torpedo sinker. The weight was heavy enough to sink straight down and after the second pull I felt a strong tug on the line. The fish pulled like I imagined a strong opelu would pull, and assuming it was just a bait fish I was lifted and cranked fairly quickly. There was a good bend in the rod and about 20 ft from the surface the hook pulled! The fish had straightened the small damashi hook. I was playing the 7lb test branch line, not realizing the hooks were so soft. Both sets of fish skins were pulled off the hooks, just leaving a bead and bare hook.
I put on the heavier rig with the small squid skirts but the bait school had moved on. Continuing on to 125 ft, I dropped down on small pockets of bait but nothing bit. Giving up on the deep bait school, I put a Gulp grub on one of the two squid skirted hooks and paddled into the 70ft range. When I checked the rig, there was a deep water lizardfish head, chomped up, hooked on the Gulp grub hook. Shucks, missed whatever took that lizardfish. Got another hit that ripped up that Gulp grub but didn’t stick. I also diagonally whipped a 60 oz swimming jig unsuccessfully.
By this time I had been out for 2 hrs and hadn’t landed a single fish. I was a mile from shore and the trade winds began to blow above 10 mph. There was heavy rain in the valley. Began to paddle towards the safety of the shallows and the wind really started gusting. I was paddling directly into the 15 to 20 mph wind and the heavy rain had reached me. It took 30 mins of hard paddling to cover the half mile distance to a more protected spot in the bay. In 25 ft of water a small trumpetfish got hooked on the Gulp grub and I hastily unhooked it and resumed my paddle in. The conditions were so treacherous at times that a boat came by to check on me. That was comforting to know that some caring boaters watch out for the smaller craft.
The rain let up for about 10 mins and then another squall with strong winds came through and tried blowing me back out to sea. I pulled my line in and made the paddle of shame back to shore.
- Unstable weather can generate rain squalls, which can generate very strong winds.
- When wind starts blowing out to sea, don’t stop paddling until you’ve reached safe water.
- The damashi rig is much more effective when it can be fished straight up and down.
- Fish the damashi with a light drag since the hooks are soft and two fish could be pulling against each other.
- Adding scent or bait makes the damashi flies more attractive.
Well, I was stoked to hook something in the bait school even though I didn’t see what it was. I’ll try tipping the damashi hooks with ika or shrimp next time, and may even drop down a frozen oama. And I’ll keep a more watchful eye on the weather conditions.
Happy New Year!!!
Thanks for reading the blog even though we’re beginning to stretch the boundaries of Nearshore Fishing.