Finally! Sandy and I etched out time to get out of Montana during the winter, do some fishing and squeeze in a little time for our long time pending honeymoon. We headed for Kaua’i, the oldest and one of the least populated Hawaiian Islands. This was the first actual vacation either of us had ever taken. I have to admit it’s difficult to find a reason to leave when you live in and around a vacation destination. A car ride, a couple of layovers, and three planes put us into one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. No offense to Montana but between the ocean and the mountains in Kaua’i, this also has to be one of the most rugged places I have ever been. We found plenty of hiking, body boarding, fishing, coffee, fresh fish, geckos, chickens, plantations, local markets and gorgeous beaches for a full sensory overload. I cannot speak for the entire island since we spent the majority of our time on the north side, but this had to be one of the friendliest places in the world. Maybe it was all of their fun in the sun. Along with their beautiful setting, self sustaining routines, and laid back attitude, Hanalei is definitely one of my favorite towns ever. Contagiously friendly and not once was I handed a plastic bag from any of the stores or markets. Thank you Hanalei, Kaua’i, Hawai’i.
And yes, there are trout in Kaua’i, if you were wondering. This fishing excursion was definitely not about the method or size of the fish. It was all about why and where. Why? Because if it’s a trout and I am within close proximity of it, why not? Where? Not only was the setting stunning, but come to think of it, I’ve never caught a trout in this state. Originally, Rainbow Trout were planted in the 1920’s, now many of the fish are wild even though there is still some annual stocking. Even though there weren’t many, the trout were very spunky and well fed. Unfortunately, many of the locals here don’t practice catch and release. Otherwise, I could see where many of these pools could hold piles of fish. Trout Unlimited along with a few other locals including my guide, are trying to change this standard and encourage regulations to be implemented especially on the stream we fished in particular.
Now I allocated only two days of fishing and wanted to fish everything I saw. I had to chose and decided to dedicate my second outing in the salt even though my guide was slightly apprehensive. The weather and tide was as good as it could get for this time of season. Other conditions were not. There were snorkelers, paddle boarders, wind surfers, swimmers, and rock skippers all over the only flat on the island that held bonefish. Dangerous surf conditions combined with peak tourist season confined everybody to the safest beach for all of these activities. No worries though, we found a little space and I had a handful of great chances. Nearly every fish that I cast at followed, approached, or charged my presentation but never committed when it came down to the final inch. It was heartbreaking. This has to be one of the toughest skunks I have ever had to swallow since I knew I wasn’t going to get another swing at bonefish for a long time. Great, now I have another afflicted addiction. Was it my presentation, human scent on the fly, tippet size, fly pattern or just the fact that I haven’t paid my dues yet? Either way this is my favorite type of fishing. Even though I had only made about six objective casts the entire outing, it was all about the hunt and just experiencing something new. One fish, one cast and a handful of outcomes. The overall technique was very similar to searching and stalking gulpers on the glassy surfaces of Hebgen Lake so it wasn’t entirely out of my comfort zone but I have to admit I was definitely out of my element.
I know that Kaua’i probably doesn’t even make the list when it comes to fly fishing destinations, but it does have some of the largest bonefish in the world and I thought it was a great avenue to immerse myself into this unique environment. Even though my entire focus was tunneled towards my quarry, it still gave me a different perspective than the rest of the tourists just doing the beach thing and sticking to well known attractions. If you ever find yourself looking for something to do in Kaua’i, consider booking Nigel Warrack. He is the only fly fishing guide on the “Garden Isle” that fishes for trout. If trout aren’t your thing or the conditions don’t cooperate, there are plenty of other fly fishing deviations. Bonefish, trevally, smallmouth and peacock bass are all fun diversions. All are well worth the time. If there was anything that I would suggest on the fishing side, I would plan my trip somewhere between early summer and well into fall because of better fishing conditions, more trout options, and fewer tourists. If you have any other more questions about fine details and expectations, feel free to contact me through the ranch. You can check out more photos from the trip on the Firehole Ranch Facebook page.
Happy New Year!
Head Fishing Guide and Outfitter