Planning for an epic birthday fishing trip for Justin Kotomori began months in advance. He was pretty much set on heading somewhere on the south side of the Big Island. After Justin narrowed the location to a couple of spots, his fishing partner Jason Vierra recommended an ideal spot, which had been untouched for a while. With Justin in agreement, the trip was set. As usual, Justins son Chase was part of the fishing crew.
As they ventured to the fishing spot, they were all ecstatic to finally be there. As soon as they arrived, poles were cast and hang baits were set. Once done, they all waited on edge, hoping to hear that sweet sound every ulua fisherman loves to hear. Unfortunately, the night went by with no action at all. With morning upon them, they put new baits on all the lines and started doing what they always do plugging.
While they were focusing on plugging, the ulua poles continued to soak their fresh baits. Soon it was midmorning, and a toau hang bait took the first bite. Justin was right next to the pole, and Jason caught the first glimpse of the fish taking the bait. He screamed, Hes a big boy! Stop that buggah!
The PENN 4/0 reel, half-full of line, began draining. Justin ripped the pole out of the stand and tightened the drag. It wasnt enough; the fish continued to peel out line. A secondary brake, Justins thumb, was applied. Toasting his thumb in the process, Justin stopped the fish and began boosting it in.
After a brief battle, the fish was brought to gaff. As Jason sank the gaff, he immediately knew this was a big fish. He pulled it up. When the fish was right in front of them, they all had thoughts of a 100-pounder running through their minds. After congratulating Justin on his birthday present and personal best ulua, they put the fish in the 270-quart cooler.
As the day went by, they ate some lunch and had a kanak attack, so they squeezed in some zzzs. Chase was the first up, so he started to fish by himself that afternoon. Justin and Jason were still charging their batteries when they were awoken by a faint battle cry. They both jumped up and saw Chase with his pole bent. He was fighting the second fish of the trip. Once again, a toau hang bait took the strike.
Justin made his way to the point to assist his son, and Jason remained at the camp due to leg cramps. While trying to relieve his cramps, he watched with his binoculars and saw Chase giving it all he had. As Chase boosted the fish using short pumps, he was gaining line slowly but surely. The TICA Wasabi pole was at full flex and stayed that way the entire battle. Justin continued to assist Chase by moving poles and guiding him under and over the other lines.
After about 15 minutes, Chase was totally spent and the fish was straight down and ready to gaff. Justin slid the gaff down; and, after a couple tense minutes, the gaff was set. The fish was on its way up and still had one last chance to escape. The fish was gaffed and hanging on the cliff but the gaff hook stopped them from bringing the fish all the way up.
By this point, Jason had recovered from his cramps and made his way to the point. With Jasons assistance, Chase and Justin got the fish up on the rocks in front of them. Justin and Jason were surprised at the size of the fish that this 16-year-old had battled and landed. This fish was also a monster.
They were totally stoked that they had landed two hammer fish in less than 24 hours. Furthermore, both of the fish were potentially 100-plus lbs and both were landed with toau hang baits.
It was late afternoon, so they fished through the night and headed home the next morning. Once home, they dealt with the excitement and anticipation of weighing their fish. After a restless night, they arrived at the scale the next day. They first weighed Justins fish, which weighed in at a respectable 95.9 lbs. Justins fish just missed the 100-lb mark, but Chases fish was up next. When they took Chases fish out of the cooler, they could tell his fish was slightly bigger than Justins. All eyes were locked on the scale when the numbers settled at a whopping 115.3 lbs!
Immediately, big smiles, handshakes and congratulations were shared. Sixteen-year-old Chase had accomplished the lifetime goal of every ulua fishermanmaking the 100-Plus list. He had done it. He had gotten the shoreline ulua fishermans dream fish. This was a perfect way to end an epic and unforgettable birthday trip.