Here is a guest post about a recent stand-up paddleboard fishing adventure on the South Shore of O`ahu by my fishing buddy Kelly. He prefers staying a little anonymous for now.
Howzit fellow fishers! Scott was nice enough to humor me and let me do a second writeup for his blog. In my first guest post I caught a personal best yellowspot papio in Waikiki. Lucky Lucky.
It was a nice calm Sunday morning with a very high tide 2’+ at 7:12am and the moon phase was good, so I dragged my lazy butt outta bed early to see if the fishies would give me any action. The surface of the water looked smooth and some surfers were preparing in the dark to paddle out, so I did the same with my wetsuit and fishing gear. Hopefully no freak sets would wipe me out, as occasionally happens!
As has become my custom, I brought my foamie SUP board, although the new wrinkle for this trip was that I decided to try an ancient used Penn 209 level-wind that I bought from eBay for $25. The reel was loaded with 30lb test Yozuri Hybrid fluorocarbon/mono that some fishers in Hawaii swear by. Hopefully this reel and the heavier line would allow me to land some of the larger fish which have been giving me trouble the last year or so. I had asked Scott to service the reel, since it was kinda similar to the bait casting reels he uses. The drag had been very sticky and freespool was all hemajang and when I took it apart it was giving me fits getting it re-assembled. To my mild surprise, Scott was able to do a full service and even get it so that the drag was silky smooth and the freespool could now spin for days. I was now loaded for bear and figured the little papios were gonna be toast.
At about 6:30 in the morning I paddled out at one of my usual spots, with my cheap-o used conventional reel and charity hand-me-down baitcasting pole from Scott. The rod was a bit stiffer than I am used to and that little trigger kept jabbing my lower back due to placement but the setup seemed to be passable. I figured at the very least, I would get to paddle in some nice glassy water, get some cardio in and see a beautiful Hawaiian sunrise. 🙂
As you may have read in my other guest post, my fishing budget is extremely limited and I always try to catch fish using very inexpensive tackle that still works for the fish I target (papio). I have found that just trolling dead baits like frozen oama, halalu or sardines with a pole stuck in my shorts is pretty easy and productive. It also minimizes my gear (and prep time) and allows me to catch/surf a wave if and when one happens to come along.
The sun was just rising and the tide was peaking, so I felt there was a decent chance to catch a legal-sized omilu or two for dinner. Since the water was very high and I had LIVE oama, I decided to stay inside the breakers and close to shore, at least initially. Scott had generously given me some live oama, which I picked up in the bucket right at the spot he left them in his garage. The pickup was in the wee morning hours, prior to heading to the fishing spot -so I am very grateful that he would leave the liveys out for me! Scott even let me use the bucket and pump. I think I owe him some good homemade char siu soon. 🙂
Editor’s note: Welcome anytime!
So off I paddled, first out about 50 yards then parallel to shore. My instincts proved true and within 5 minutes of launching from the sandy beach, I got a 2+lb omilu in the bag. The fight was pretty good even though I was using a big soda-can sized floater to try to keep the big live oama from swimming down and snagging the bottom. Despite the resistance of the huge floater, the omilu made several strong runs before I dragged it onto the board.
The floater seemed to be working as an attractant, because after re-baiting and paddling back to about the same spot, I scored another thick 2.5 lb omilu right away! Both were caught within casting distance from shore. The morning was still young, so I decided to hang around to fish a bit more and use my last few liveys.
With the pressure off and the tide now falling, I headed out to the breakers. Often the action in the surf zone is hot and heavy, with all the turbulence and whitewater seeming to stimulate the fishes to eat. I landed another 2-pounder in the surfers’ channel on the way out and then decided to go past the surfers to scout some new reefy areas, quite a bit past the breakers. Anything else now would be icing on the cake.
After about 15 minutes, and a couple bait stealers taking my last liveys, I switched to a frozen, salted Halalu from Thad (that halalu trip was written up here) and replaced the floater with a light clip-on weight. Those freebies from good friends seem to have some kind of mana, as I always seem to get lucky when using gifted gear/bait!) Actually there was a lot of Aloha involved in this fishing trip, since Thad gave me the secret bait I used to catch the oama and he also gave me charity salted halalu which he caught whipping. Scott gave LIVE OAMA, the baitcaster rod and serviced my new old reel, another friend gave me the remnant line I used for leader and so on and so forth … maybe I stay just one old pa’ke (thrifty Chinese) fisherman … haha
As I trolled about 40 yards outside the surfers, I hadn’t had a nibble in about 10 or 15 minutes, so I was contemplating going in early to clean my fish. Maybe the halalu was not a good bait for this area? Maybe the bite was pau already…?
As I was daydreaming about why I wasn’t getting hits, all of a sudden BINGO-BANGO and my clicker started SCREAMING. My line was ripping out -it sure is nice to hear that loud clicker, since I usually hear a pretty quiet spinner drag. Scott’s comment regarding his screaming clicker sounding like Wicked Tuna played in my head and I told myself that this was a BIG M’Fer and I better not lose ‘em!
I fiddled clumsily with the reel since I am not used to using a conventional, I had to switch hands and flip the pole over, then finally set the hook two or three times by jerking the pole upwards, more out of habit than anything else. Of course, that made the fish pretty unhappy and he went on a 20-yard spurt. Since the water was about 15 or 20 feet, I let him run a little more than I usually do then started to retrieve line slowly, but surely. During the fight I vacillated with letting the fish run then clamping down, afraid of being rocked, as I often am. Finally, I rationalized that my line was heavier than usual and my reel bigger and stronger than my junky spinner, so I could probably just boost the fish in. I palmed the spool and just started “winching”, which is kinda how I feel fighting a fish on a rather foreign (for me) conventional reel, but after about three or four minutes, I saw the familiar electric blue hue and knew it was a nice sized Omilu.
The fish made a couple of death circles under my board, and I used the time to grab my glove from my pocket. I don’t bring a net, so I just grabbed the tail on the scutes with my gloved hand and the fish was mine. The knockoff Gamakatsu live bait hook I used was easy to remove and as I bagged the fish, I realized my backpack cooler would not zip up, so I had to leave the tail sticking out.
By now I was sooo dang stoked! My paddle-in seemed like I was just floating on a cloud, so effortless. I rarely catch nice sized papio, usually just papiopio, which are mighty tasty anyways. It turns out that this was my second largest papio … EVER!
After fishing, I stopped at Scott’s house to return his bucket/pump and he was nice enough to weigh my fish with his IGFA certified spring scale. Turned out to be a bit over 6 pounds and made lots of sashimi, poke and vina dos.
The sashimi was cut and eaten on the second and third day after the fish was caught. We like to eat our raw fish than way for most fish, since the flesh tends to be a bit softer after a couple days (depends on fish type though). My catches are small and I always ice them very well, that is the single most important aspect to keeping the fish as fresh as possible with the goal always to have sashimi quality fish at home, whether we eat raw on not!
We made poke from the not as pretty but still super fresh cuts of fish. This time I made a sweet ginger shoyu poke, which is normally the most popular with my children. Basic ingredients are shoyu, sugar, round onions and ginger. Other things we like to add depending on taste and availability are sesame oil, chili pepper, honey, toasted sesame seeds, green onions. You can also try the secret ingredient, a touch of oyster sauce … get creative and let your taste buds make the decisions!
Vina dos is a Portuguese style vinegar fried fish that my kids love. We use it for the bones, belly and other “scrap” pieces of the fish. Many popular recipes are online, so I wont go into detail but the main ingredients are vinegar, Hawaiian salt and fresh garlic – lots of garlic is the key! Oh, I almost forgot, my mom made a fish soup (“chiri”) with the head … no waste 🙂 … we live by the motto … “you kill it, you eat it” … although maybe that is just my old plantation pa-ke roots coming out … hahaha
Thanks for reading my fishiiiiing taaaales!