February 18, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Oahu (Day 28)

My 4 weeks in Hawaii has came and went. While Michael wanted a last shot for new species, I decided to spend the day with my Grandma. After packing up my luggage, there was a bit of tackle, most notably the 6oz bank sinkers, that I would not need at home.

I met with Jason one last time to drop off the extra gear. All these years, we have fished together but never taken a picture together. Michael suggested that we should remedy that.

Mahalo brah! A hui hou!

That was the conclusion of my Hawaiian trip.

I would like to thank my family for hosting me for so long, especially my Grandma. I would like to thank my friends Ji, Jason, Stan and Todd for making their best effort fish with me. I would like to thank my new friends Wade, Jamie, Jeffery and Peterson and hope we will have opportunities to meet again in the future.

On this trip, I was able to catch 64 new species, all of which are testament to the aloha of all my local friends, both old and new, and the help of my species hunting community especially Steve, Elijah and George who shared everything they know about locations, species and techniques.

Now that I've caught 96 total species from Hawaii (32 previously, 64 on this trip), future visits to Hawaii to add new species will be much more difficult. Even without the new species, a visit to Kauai and more time on Big Island would definitely do the trick!

February 17, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Oahu (Day 27)

Todd had been trying to get me out on his boat the entire trip. However, taking the boat and truck out of 16 months of dormancy had its fair share of issues. Todd did a lot of work on the boat before I arrived to get the boat into top shape, but an unexpected fuel leak and bad brakes on the truck prevented us from getting out.

With only a day left on Oahu, we made a last try to get out on the ocean.

The wind would increased to 19kts later in the day, so we decided to troll out from Waianae up the ono line in the morning, then tuck inside for some bottom fishing later.

We got to the FAD and drifted a couple of akule around but no one was home. Heading further out, I took the wheel while Todd showed Michael how to get the spread. With the lures trolling enticingly behind our wake, Todd and I had just switched hands when the battery alarm came on.

Todd suspected it was a bad alternator and we had to head back to port. Luckily, we made the 6 mile journey back on our own power. As Todd said, I simply had no luck this trip.

Still, I really appreciate all of Todd's effort to try to get us out on his boat. Hopefully, we'll have more luck next time.

With the morning and afternoon free, we checked out a potential spot at Nanakuli and Ko'olina. However, we didn't see any interesting new species to get the rods out.

Michael was complete exhausted and asked to return to his hostel for a much needed sleep. I took a quick power nap before heading to He'eia Kai. While we were in Maui, Elijah was on Oahu to attend a wedding. He fished for a bit and reported seeing juvenile Scalloped Hammerhead caught on live bait.

I had full intention to soak live baits for a few hours, but with strong trades blowing onshore the entire time, it was unexpectedly difficult even trying to catch bait. The last resort was to fish chunks of squid on the heavy rod hoping the reef fish wouldn't strip the bait too quickly.

At one point, I saw the rod tip jiggling as if smaller reef fish were pecking at the bait. I did not pay much attention to it. Almost an hour later when I checked bait, there was weight on the other line. I do not know how long this Spotfin Burrfish was on the line. It was deep hooked so I cut the line, took some quick pictures and released it promptly.

Spotfin Burrfish (Chilomycterus reticulatus) - Species #549

In the evening, Jason met up with us to help us catch a Glasseye (Aweoweo). We tried for a couple of hours during prime time but could not find any of them. It will be a target for me to go after on the next trip. We did catch a few Brick Soldierfish (Menpachi) and Michael caught a Flagtail so the technique was solid. The fish simply did not want to bite.

After fishing, we went to grab some plate lunch at Rainbow's Drive-In; $9 for the mix plate can't be beat!

February 16, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Oahu (Day 26)

It was the last Tuesday on Oahu for me. Tuesday was the day off for both of my uncles. I had saved the morning for a potential brunch with both of them, but the decided on meeting for dinner instead.

Michael had already started the morning fishing solo along the Waikiki stretch. I joined him later for a quick afternoon session.

There was a man who caught two Moray. One was a very cool Snowflake Moray that had Michael and I drooling. The other was a small Undulated Moray. We soaked bait for the entire session but got nary a touch.

There were plenty of Wedge-tail Triggerfish in the area and they loved shrimp. On one retrieve, I saw something dashed up quickly for the shrimp but refused it at the last second. Switching to whip with a curly tail grub, I quickly caught the suspect.

Gracile Lizardfish (Saurida gracilis) - Species #548

* Lizardfish are very difficult to identify. The alternating black and white bands on the lower jaw narrowed this down to either the Gracile or Clouded Lizardfish. I had a quick look at the predorsal scales and it appeared to be a Gracile Lizardfish with only 2-3 scales between the tip of the pectoral fin to the dorsal origin. Unfortunately, the fish was not cooperative enough to take definitive pictures of the scales.

Among all the Wedge-tail Triggerfish, I found a single White-banded Triggerfish

That was all the excitement aside from the usual reef fish.

February 15, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Oahu (Day 25)

We returned to Oahu in the morning. Initially, the plan was to snorkel at Hanauma Bay. However, it was President Day and we were sure it would be incredibly busy. Instead, we fished in Pearl Harbour. Some intel told us there were Spotted Eagle Ray and the potential for Giant Trevally in the shallow bay.

We fished with squid and crabs that we caught on location, only to find our bait being eaten by crabs over and over again. There were juvenile Giant Trevally busting a few bait school but they did not want any of our artificial offerings, and we could not tempt the bait to bite out hook.

Perhaps the most impressive catch of the day made by Michael as he snagged an abandoned crab trap, complete with a male and female Mangrove Crab inside. They were both close to keeper size but, we didn't want to eat the contaminated creatures of Pearl Harbour, they were lucky to be released to live another day.

Yes, we were skunked in Hawaii. It does happen!

February 14, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Maui (Day 24)

Our last day on Maui, we decided to take it easy. We started the morning off at Iao Valley. People said it is a must see destination, but we didn't find it too special. Yes, the history was interesting, but other than that, there were way too many tourists!

We continued with a drive along northeast corner of Maui. The road is not for weak drivers. Tight blind corners and hills, and single lane cliff side roads were the norm...about 25km of it that took 45 minutes to go through. If you thought Road to Hana was challenging, you should definitely avoid this section of Hwy 340. It was fun to drive, but also raised my blood pressure quite a bit. The horn was our friend and might have saved us from a head-on, roll-off-cliff accident.

But the scenery was pretty nice.

At the end of the road of death, there was a dirt lot with lots of parked cars. We wondered what the fuss was all about. Apparently, there were some tidepools at the base of the cliff where people love to swim. We didn't bring swim trunks so took some pictures.

I was just gazing at the fishy-looking rocks when there was a puff of spray that looked out of place. A more intent look at the area and we finally found who was making the splash. This humpback whale got as close as 70 yards from the rocky shore, tail slapping as it coasted along, giving everyone a great show.

We continued to Makaluapuna Point, nicknamed Dragon's Teeth for the unique rock features. The area is special to Hawaiians. We were initially interested to fish the area but decided to move on.

We checked out Kaanapali but there was no parking remotely close to the location where we wanted to fish, so we move onto Lahaina.

After grabbing some poke for lunch, I was pretty tired. Michael still wanted to fish so we found a jetty to spend the afternoon. We didn't think much of the area initially but, on my second cast, a beautiful African Coris, aka Yellowtail Coris, surfaced.

African Coris (Coris gaimard) - Species #547

Thereafter, we saw cool species after cool species. There were Achilles Tang, Fourspot Butterflyfish, Belted Wrasse and even a juvenile Rockmover Wrasse. It was actually a very species rich area! The reason I listed them was simply because I could not get any of them to bite.

Michael tried for 3 Paletail Unicornfish that I spotted earlier and they either snapped him off or the hook pulled out. We waited until dusk hoping for some Moray to show but they never did. With an early morning flight, we decided to drive back to the hostel for an early night sleep.

February 13, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Maui (Day 23)

This was our full day hike at Haleakala.

We arrived at Haleakala Visitor Center at around 10am. Here are a couple of shots of the beautiful Haleakala Caldera that is currently dormant, but could erupt in a few thousand years.

From the Visitor Center at 9740 feet, we hiked down the side of the caldera following the Sliding Sands (Keonehe'ehe'e) trail and passed Haleakala Silversword plants

While waiting for fellow hikers for our group, we took some pics...

...but still a long way down.

Finally, we made it to the floor of the caldera. Here's a 270 degree panorama of the entire caldera.

We hiked between cinder cones...

...to the other side of the caldera where it was a little more vegetated.

Four hours later, we reach the Holua cabin at 6940 feet for lunch stop. There was a nearby cave to explore. It was closed to entry, but our group were rebels. It was really cool (literally) and a nice retreat from the scorching sun.

The trail out of the caldera started off easy. My new hiking friend Brenda still going strong.

Then it was switchbacks after switchback...

A seemingly never ending number of them...

Final look of the caldera before we hiked behind the rim.

But at last we reach the Halemau'u Trailhead with time to spare so we can catch sunset.

Another Hawaiian summit reached and a bucket list item checked!

February 12, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Maui (Day 22)

We had the full day to drive to Hana. People rave about the scenery, but it was very much just the same Hawaiian coastal views for most part.

There were a few waterfalls along the way, but the dry conditions made them quite unassuming.

We stopped in Hana to check out Hana Pier for fishing potential. Since the pier was in a dilapidated state, the pier was closed. The water around the boat launch and along the shoreline was murky and there wasn't much life around. We hardly saw any coral. We chummed bread and only juvenile Saddle Wrasse and Green Damselfish came for the free food. At the end, we decided not to waste time.

When we got to Haleakala National Park in Kipahulu, we found a dry Makahiku Falls.

We wondered if it was worth the hike to Waimoku Falls. Since we were already here and the 3 mile hike would serve as a good prelude to hiking Haleakala, we pushed on.

Bamboo is not native to Hawaii. This looked more like a page out of Southeast Asia.

Luckily, there was still a trickle at Waimoku Falls.

It was a pretty tall waterfall at about 400 feet high. Here's a picture of me for reference.

We hiked to see the pools of Ohe'O Gulch. They were also a trickle...but it did looked a bit like the Garden of Eden.


Driving back toward Kahului, we stopped so Michael could take some pictures of a double rainbow. Surfs up in Paia but not many people were out riding the waves.

We had some seafood plates at The Fish Market in Paia. I had grilled wahoo (Ono) on a burger and it was good, but we would much rather have poke instead. We went to bed early to get maximum rest ahead of the 12 mile hike next day.

February 11, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Maui (Day 21)

Michael had an early dive at Molokini Crater, leaving me to fish solo for the morning. I poked around Makena a bit and caught another Bluespotted Cornetfish and another Saddle Wrasse but nothing else.

Taking it easy, I took a nap then head back to Kihei boat launch. Unfortunately, fishing was not allowed at the ramp, so I walked a bit further and found a little cove.

There were a lot of Flagtails in this cove. These were Kuhlia xenura. I gave a couple of the 12" specimens to a retired couple who were chatting with me.

* Kuhlia xenura has fine speckled on the top of the head and much larger eye diameter compared to K. sandvicensis.

When Michael got back on shore, we returned to the hostel to voice our displeasure and sort out the bed arrangements for the rest of the days. Due to the misunderstanding, the manager agreed to guarantee us a spot on the Haleakala hike on Saturday. Otherwise, we would have to wait for the sign up sheet to come out at 11:30am the next day and that hike filled up fast.

After getting to our new room, we had lunch and took a nap before heading out to fish again.

For the sunset session, we fished at Maalaea. The end of the jetty was closed due to construction, so we could only pick at species from the shallower side. Michael tossed a chunk of Rainbow Wrasse for Moray and hooked up minutes later to catch his lifer Undulated Moray. However that was all the new species we found off the jetty. When night came, it became very windy and cool. It was way too windy to whip for Menpachi or Aweoweo, so we were forced to leave.

February 10, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Hawaii (Day 20)

We fished at daybreak again for one last try for Flounder. Michael caught one fishing right next to me, but I would have to wait for another trip to check off that species :(

While Michael went to try for a Blacktail Snapper, I fished the jetty whipping a curly tail grub and caught a Bluespotted Cornetfish (Nunu).

Bluespotted Cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii)

Then I decided to look for Moray again. The smaller Moray was there and it came out to take the bait once, but the hook did not set and the eel became very cautious after. A couple of boys were watching me fish and one of them saw a Moray swimming around in the open. I tossed a chunk of Half-beak at the Moray and it took the bait in no time. It was a Turkey Moray, aka Whitemouth Moray. You can clearly see how it got its Whitemouth Moray name.

Turkey Moray (Gymnothorax meleagris) - Species #546

We had to wrap up fishing by noon. After packing up and getting lunch, we were in a hurry to the airport. Unfortunately, our flight to Maui was delayed and we were schedules to route from Kona to Honolulu to Kahului. Luckily, while were were waiting for our Honolulu flight, the airline made some arrangements and actually found seats on the next direct flight to Kahului for us.

The drama was not over yet. We had reserved a private room for 2 at our hostel but somehow they marked us down for only one single bunk. It made no sense at all. But they did their best to accommodate us and put us on priority list for any available bunk. We had to play musical chairs each morning, moving from room to room...but they did find us a bed each night. Kudos to them on that.

February 9, 2016

2016 Hawaii - Hawaii (Day 19)

A bit fished out, we decided on a sightseeing day.

Mauna Kea on a clear day.

A piece of western charm in paradise.

Akaka Falls

Waipio Valley. Unfortunately, the valley was closed due to Dengue Fever epidemic.

On the way to our next spot, I happened to look over and saw this sign.

There was no argument...we stopped in to find out how researchers used the Keck telescopes to find black holes, exoplanets and dark matter...and perhaps even a potentially new planet in our own solar system! WAY COOL!

Stopped at KTA for some much needed poke lunch...shoyu marlin and limu ahi.

We hiked down Pololu Valley to appreciate it at different angles.

Toward dusk, we stopped at Mahukona to fish for a bit. We found some intriguing Yellow Tang that would swarm a piece of bread out of curiosity, but never taking a bite. We caught the usual reef critters but didn't catch anything new.

Upon returning to Kona, we fished the pier again for Aweoweo and Menpachi. Strangely, the Brick Soldierfish were everywhere on this night. They would bite a piece of bait close to the surface. I caught half a dozen of them but Michael took a long time before he finally caught his lifer. I caught another Blotcheye Soldierfish but nothing new.