Prepared for Most Situations, Victory for a Pelagic!
Wind, Chop, Ulua, Ono, Shark and South Point Drama!
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I had a fishing experience worth writing about. Not by the lack of not catching fish, but by a spicy story that had some thrill and adventure to it.
For the last few weeks kayak anglers on the Big Island have been experiencing great fishing weather with light and variable winds on the west side. The reports of pelagic catches have been minimal though.
In fishing, timing is everything. Being at the right place at the right time is crucial to catching pelagic. Or could it be by luck only. Let’s face it; most of us visualized the victory of landing a great catch or dealing with an extreme situation before we begin an adventure. Yesterday was no different…
Reggie called the night before and could see outside his window that South Point was happening with fantastic weather conditions. Slicks were on the water with a slight west to east wind with fishing boats present, a great indication to plan on fishing South Point.
But would the weather hold up for our morning launch. On the north side of the island the night before, it started raining hard. The last time this happened, the south part of the island was perfect. So we made it a go. Unfortunately when I arrived at our launch site, the wind was blowing stronger than expected with south east gusts at about 15 mph. The water conditions were choppy but no white caps.
We contemplated the launch knowing we had to paddle out 2 miles west battling into the wind to get to the drop off. Once we get past the point, we would drift back in a southernly angle away of our launch site. Willing to cut our lines if we drifted to far south before we angled in, we headed out.
What a battle we had against the wind. Water came over the front hatch with wave sets so close to each other. There were times I wanted to call it off as both of Reggie and I struggled to make it to our desired point. There is a strong advantage to having a mirage drive pedal system on a Hobie Kayak in comparison to a Ocean Kayak paddle with wind conditions. I love the advantage of having my hands free for battling fish. During our paddle, we thought we were not progressing at all at times. But after 1.5 hours, we finally crossed the point (usually a 30 to 45 minute trip). The drop shelf goes from 150 feet down to 300 plus and runs south from the point. This is where pelagic fish gather and hunt for their food chain to come up the shelf. Looking to my left and straight out, I could see sea birds dive bombing into the water for their meals. My thoughts at that time was about the movie “The Birds” directed by Alfred Hitchcock. There were so many of them.
My fish finder was sounding off with large fish, but the wind picked up stronger slowing us down. It was impossible to make the bird pile, we tried and tried, then finally over the drop off, Reggie hooked up. Then I did also. We fought our fish only to pull up Ulua. Quickly released, we drifted east and made our way back to the point. Crossing it again, I took another strike. The reel screamed line out fast. I would say that it spitted out 150 feet before I slowed it down. Then the fish made a run back towards me diving down. I did not have enough time to turn off my line clicker but managed to get tension in the line under control. Then the fish made its second run dragging my Hobie Revo with it.
As I started to reel it in, my concern is to get the fish up quickly and in the kayak trying to avoid the tiger sharks biting the back end of my catch. As the fish rose closer to my kayak, I could see a large fish trailing my catch. It was a shark about six to eight feet long 4 feet below me. My catch was an “ono.” And as I maneuvered my catch closer to the boat, the shark followed. Coming to grips with my situation, I focused on the “ono” and prepared for the gaffing and where I was going to store it on my kayak. If only my Shark Shield had arrived as I ordered one the week before.
I tried to be careful with keeping the blood drippings to a minimal to avoid the shark bumping me. This was one heavy fish. It weighed 45 pounds and really unbalanced my kayak because of the mirage drive system (pedals). The ono was 50 inches long and massively fat. Now this is my number one complaint about the Hobie Revo, it is the most uncomfortable ride when landing a large fish. It’s hard to pedal because the lack of space and movement, especially with the wind and swell conditions we had yesterday. It really takes the bang out of landing a large fish. I’ll have to work on a rigging solution or move to an open hull Hobie Mirage kayak in the future.
Nonetheless, I positioned the ono as best as I could and forgot about the shark and headed back to shore fighting the southeast drift. Reggie hooked into a massive fish on the way back but had to cut his line loosing 100 feet of it with tackle. He was drifting to far south and would have to face the wind getting back to our launch site. It was not worth it to him to battle against the wind.
The day ended with an “ono” and even with this victory for a pelagic, you sometimes have to look back with caution, “should we really have been out there with these conditions?” And that is where experience pays in. Always be prepared to deal with and visualize all situations as best as you can before you start.