Bottom Fishing with MWR
Hana Pa’a! Try Bottom Fishing
By Reid Tokeshi
(This story originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Great Life Hawaii magazine. Photos by Glenn Coloma and Justin Hirai.)
It’s natural that fishing would be popular in Hawaii. After all, it’s an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and fishing can be a source of food, recreation and even income. If you’re new to the islands, or never fished before, this is something you’ll want to try now that you’re here. Luckily, MWR’s Outdoor Recreation has a fun fishing excursion here at Hickam Harbor.
The Bottom Fishing trip is offered every month and is one of the most popular at the harbor. Being born and raised in Hawaii, I spent part of my younger days with a rod and reel, but it had been years. So I jumped at the chance to feel the sensation of landing the big one…or anything.
Our group met at the harbor and was greeted by our captain/guide Frank “Frankie” Supranovich and Teddy Fabella, his shipmate for today. As Frank finished prepping the boat, Teddy gave us a quick lesson on proper use of the fishing gear. After that it was all aboard (no bananas, they’re bad luck!) and off we went.
We went to about four different places around the harbor. After years of experience, Frank and Teddy knew where the fish hung out. As we moved from spot to spot, Frank told us that they always catch at least a few fish – and usually much more – on each trip. When the first two stops yielded little results (a fishing reality sometimes), they jokingly reminded us what their lowest ever total haul was, and that we haven’t beaten it.
One thing newbies will appreciate is that Frank and Teddy do all the hard work for you so that all you think about is dropping your line in the water and trying to land your catch. They have extra poles ready in case your line gets stuck on the rocks. If that happens, they hand you another pole while they free the line and reattach the hooks if necessary. Their goal is to keep you fishing so you have a good time and hopefully pull in something worthy of a photo.
Honestly, our trip won’t set any records. Frank was almost apologetic as our total catch was below the norm for their tours. You could tell he and Teddy want their customers to have a fun and productive trip. But it was still a really good time and we all caught at least one fish and captured a wide variety. We pulled in O’io (bonefish), Moano (goat fish), Mu (big eye emperor), Ta’ape (blue stripe snapper), To’au (black tail snapper) and even a persistent little crab among others. There is a “catch and release” instruction, so be sure to take a picture when you reel in your prize.
Gavin Doi from the Hickam Harbor office says what makes the bottom fishing tour so popular is that it’s affordable ($30 per person, all gear included) and Frank makes it fun.
“Frankie is patient, great with kids and adults, knows our harbor inside and out and is able to communicate very effectively,” says Gavin. He adds that Frank also stays calm under pressure, which helps customers feel comfortable while out on the ocean. Beginners and experienced anglers alike will enjoy this trip.
This tour can sell out quickly, so keep an eye out for it in the Outdoor Recreation schedule in this magazine. You can also book a private tour if you have at least four people (maximum is six) and the price is still $30 per person. Private tours can allow for customers age 7 and up. Even then, you’ll want to plan ahead.
“Due to the popularity of our fishing program, I’d say it could take about two months to get a private bottom fishing trip,” says Gavin.
I could definitely see myself doing this tour again. The three hours go by really quick, the guides are great and just being out on the water felt really refreshing. I recommend this to anyone who wants a little time outdoors on the water.