On August 7, I started to pack for a week-long trip to my favorite spot. I checked the freezer for bait and uncovered some year-old tako that had been buried. I added them to the cooler and set out the next morning.
That evening was about catching small game. The next night I decided to small game again since the menpachi bite was good. Around nine o'clock I decided I would only run one pole that night. It was a 1st Gen Slider wrapped by Tokunaga in 2010 with a Newell 550.
I cast out the pole and slid one of the smaller old frozen tako about 9:30 p.m. Half an hour later I heard the bell and ratchet go off. It was a clean fight and 10 minutes later I had landed a 5O-plus-lb ulua and decided to release it.
I contemplated using the last of the old tako and decided to go for it around 11:30 p.m. An hour later I once again heard the bell and ratchet.
When I got to the pole, it was peeling so much line that my 80/60 splice was already out. I still had to wait for it to slow down so I could get the pole out of the pole stand and set the hook.
As soon as I set the hook and gave it a couple boosts, I was sure it was a big one. I was hoping it wasn't a shark. It was running straight out, and I was able to turn it so that the fish was running only slightly to the left.
Most of the left side at my spot is a danger area because of rocks and old line, so I was grateful the fish didn't turn all the way left. Amazingly, it was a clean fight with a lot of heavy boosting until the last 60 or 70 yards when it got pinned down on old line for a minute or two. Once the fish came free, I started boosting as hard as I could with what felt like dead weight getting it off the bottom.
Once it surfaced, I knew it was a big one. I was able to pull it to the side of the spot, and the water helped to wash it to the back side where I could get a hold of it. At that point my adrenalin surged and I just stared at it in shock. With a lot of effort, I was able to pull it up into a safe spot where there was no danger of the ulua being pulled back as the tide came up.
Several years ago, my wife got me a watch that had cellular service because I fish alone a lot and she wanted me to be able to call from it in case of emergency or if I caught a big one. I used that watch to call her at around 1 a.m. and told her "I caught a big one."
I asked her to bring me the fish bag and told her I was going to need her help getting the ulua off the rock and up to my truck. While waiting for her, I took a closer look at how I hooked it up and to my surprise it was hooked on the outside, under the gill plate, next to the jawbone. It was a barbless hook (16/0 VMC); which is the only kind of hook I've fished with for the last five years.
The longer I stared at the ulua, the more weight it seemed to lose. By the time my wife arrived 30 minutes later I wasn't sure I had achieved 100-plus status.
About my wife ... she sometimes likes to hang out with me when I fish, but she doesn't enjoy fishing. She knows enough about fishing to know what I'm talking about when I 'talk story', and she asks questions, makes comments, but that's about all.
She showed up with the fish bag and came down to help me move the fish to the truck. I got the ulua ready to carry and took the head; she took the tail. As we struggled up a small incline, I encouraged her to keep it from scraping on the rock because I was going to lose weight and I needed every scale.
We went to her car and got the fish bag, moved stuff around in my truck to make room for the bag and then carried the ulua to the truck and got it inside. I asked her to hold the spot while I ran back to the house to ice the fish and then I'd come back down. She looked at her watch-it was 3:30 a.m. by then-and said she needed to grab a charger cord for her phone from the car and she'd just sleep at the spot and hang out there until I got back from weighing it.
We decided I would take the ulua back to the house, ice it, shower and get some rest before I got up to go to S. Tokunaga Store to get the official weight. After all that, I got half an hour of sleep before I headed for the scale.
I made a few phone calls to friends as I drove in; my wife called our daughter and let her know.
Daniel. Wilson and Kamaka helped me unload the fish and get it on the scale with the Tokunaga crew, and my daughter and her friend took pictures. As we watched the numbers on the scale jump, I was excited to see that it stayed at three digits and finally landed at 108.9 lbs.
I could hardly believe I'd finally gotten one!
I called my wife, because she'd asked me to, and teasingly told her it was only 99.8 lbs. She was very sad for me, and then I told her the real weight. She yelled and clapped, and then told me she had already called Brandon at Makai Impressions to see if he was available to print the ulua.
I linked up with Kahana, my usual fishing partner, especially for tournaments, and he helped me get the ulua unloaded for Brandon to print. We stayed until Brandon was done, double-checked the ice and then Kahana called our friend Tiny to see if he wanted the fish to make sausage.
He did, so Kahana took the fish to give to Tiny so that I could get back to the spot and relieve my patient wife. A few days later, Tiny told us that inside the ulua 's stomach was a huge tako beak and the teeth, jawbone and spikes of a balloon fish.
Thirteen hours after I had left my spot, I returned, barely able lo believe I had finally achieved my lifetime goal.
I must thank the Lord for this blessing, my brother Edwin for teaching me to fish as a kid and getting me "hooked," Kahana for teaching me to ulua fish, and all my fishing partners through the years who have shared their experience and knowledge. I also would like to thank Brandon at Makai Impressions for the quick turnaround on my traditional Gyotaku and my resin mount Gyotaku. And an extra-special thanks to my wife for everything mentioned above, and for always supporting this passion of mine.