By Steve Weisman
As much as I like the four seasons we experience here in northwest Iowa, I must confess something. As I get older, I do like to break up the winter with a little bit of warmth! So, when you read this column, my wife and I will be on our way to what we think is the closest thing to paradise in our 50 states: The Valley Isle. Yep, we’re heading for Maui.
It’s for many reasons. It’s a belated 40th wedding anniversary to each other (you would think the family would just pitch in for this, wouldn’t you???), a 65th birthday present for me (March) and a semi-retirement present for my wife (May). Guess that’s enough reasons!
We’ll be gone for 15 days and are looking forward to 82-degree days and 64-degree nights. We’re Marriott reward members, and I’ve been saving points for years, so we will be using up a lot of those points to help cover our lodging costs when we stay at the Maui Ocean Club at Ka’anapali Beach and the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort. Plus, we have a timeshare that will cover one of the weeks at the Kahana Beach Vacation Club on Ka’anapali Beach. It will be somewhat of a pain to move three times, but deals are deals!
The 16 days will give us time to kick back and relax and to do the “tourist” things that tourists do. I’ve also been working with Charlene Kauhane with the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau to help find some of those special out-of-the way jewels.
Knowing my wife, we will explore the botanical side of Maui, the out of the way and unusual shops, the marine life and walk the beaches.
Fish? Me fish? Really? You better believe it. I’ve been researching this for months. First, I am holding off the trip until Monday, February 4 to get as far away from the full moon as I can.
The next big decision, private charter or shared charter. Private is much more expensive, but you are with your own group. In this case, my wife and I will be the only ones. In 2004, my son and I took a shared charter when we were in Maui. There were four of us, and we drew cards to see what order we would take the rod. Luckily, Curt and I drew the two top cards, so we went first and second. Curt caught a smaller marlin and I caught a nice Mahi-Mahi. The other two anglers did not catch a keeper game fish – nothing but junk fish that you throw back. They were pretty hot, because they paid $200 a piece and brought back nothing.
So, the cost is more, but I like our odds much better on a private charter.
The next big decision? Which one? Go on their websites and they all have glowing reports of great catches. They are all #1, you know.
There is a website by Captain Mike Crawford, a Hawaii sport fishing veteran of nearly 35 years. He’s pretty much retired from the charter business now, but runs a website called fishmaui.com. He covers pretty much everything you want to know about fishing in Maui from shore fishing (on your own), to bottom fishing to big game charter fishing. He also lists the top charters and will help visitors line up a trip.
So, I gleaned what I could from Captain Mike’s website and then went to charter websites, looked at reviews and then sat there and thought what do I really want to do?
Do I want a shot at a huge marlin? It’s a long shot to be sure. Chances are we’d catch other fish along the way. A trophy would be great, but still the odds are pretty great that it wouldn’t happen.
Reel Luckey, catchy name for a charter boat isn’t it? That’s the name of the charter I ended up choosing. Captain Tad Luckey and his wife Cindy started “Luckey Strike Charters” in 1978. I spent time researching Luckey Strike specifically and found glowing reports. I also visited with Cindy and struck up a good conversation. Here is what helped me make this choice.
Can’t be done
For years he did what most everybody does on their charters, mainly surface trolling at 8-10 mph with lures close to the surface. It’s pretty much taking off and covering a lot of area. He still does that with the 50’ Luckey Strike but not with Reel Luckey, a 38’ Mediterranean Yacht. Luckey has rigged this boat for live bait and light tackle trips.
That’s it, that’s the one for me to try. I want action, and though you call it fishing, not catching, and this appears to be the best choice.
Long story-short, Tad and Cindy both many deep dives, while Tad did a lot of deep diving with coral divers and found a whole lot of structure that hold a wide variety of fish.
Plus, he tried something from his state-side background: downriggers. He was told they wouldn’t work in Maui, but low and behold, getting down deep helped him find Trevally, Snappers, Amberjacks, Sharks and Barracudas. Plus, he had GPS coordinates for those underwater structure gold mines.
Today, he has refined this so that he puts his live bait rigs at different depths in the water column and works different spots at different times of the year.
So, we’ll see. No matter what, a bad day on the water beats a good day at work – oh, wait. I’ll be working, won’t I? Can’t think of a better job in the world!