- Another fish for the angler
who wants to do battle with a leaper is the "aha", or giant needle fish
(Stongylura gigantea). It jumps repeatedly from the time it is hooked until it is landed.
Whats more, it gets big enough to put a very strong fight on spinning tackle. I once
caught an "aha" that was 49 inches long.
- The giant needlefish is well
named. It is long, slender, silver and pointed. Its upper jaw is like a marlin bill, and
so its lower. Together, they create an odd beak-like appearance. Both jaws are lined by
rows of sharp teeth. The head of a needlefish is even more vicious-looking than the head
of a barracuda. The barracuda, at least hides its teeth when it closes its mouth. The
needlefish, on the other hand, never seems to close its mouth.
- Its sharp teeth and
long strong body make it dangerous to handle. The safest place to grab it is behind the
head. But when you do, be prepared for the fish to lash its body from side to side.
Its wise to use a glove or at least a piece of cloth, when trying to hold the
- Those same long jaws
make the "aha" hard to hook. When the needlefish attacks a bait, it grabs it
with the middle of its beak. It clamps down on its food with its needle teeth and holds on
for a few seconds before swallowing. You must wait until it swallows the bait before you
can set the hook. If the needlefish feels the tension of the line, hell just open
his jaws and let go.
- Thats why fishing
with bait is better than fishing with lures. The needlefish spits the lure out almost as
soon as he strikes it. Its jaws are so bony and hard that the hook has a difficult time
trying to penetrate. But lures are effective and fun to use for "aha". I have
caught them on small spoons and swimming plugs like the Rebels, Rapalas, Redfins, and Sea
Bees. The hooks must be extremely sharp and you must jerk the line to set the hook as soon
as you feel the strike.
- When you set the
hook, the "aha" will instantly start leaping. You must play with him the
lightest drag possible. Gentle pressure is the key. If you try to horse him in,
youll put the hook loose. If you put too much pressure on him when he jumps,
hell jerk the hook free. The needlefish will teach you patience.
Hawaiis is home to several kinds of needlefish, but the biggest and gamiest one is
the giant Stongylura gigantea, as it is known to scientists. Where it occurs in other
places around the world, it is called the "houndfish".
find the "aha" at the surface in deep channels when the current is flowing away
from shore. These lazy giants like to cruise back and forth across the current while they
wait for it to bring them some unsuspecting bite of food.
- To fish for
"aha" with lures, cast across the current and reel as fast as you can. The rapid
movement of the lure will attract their attention. And the speed will also help you set
the hook because the lure is already moving when the fist hits.
- To fish
with bait, use a slim wooden bobber as a casting weight, then tie an 18-inch leader on
behind with a small hook and a strip of squid or shrimp for bait. The wooden bobber will
keep the bait right up at the surface. The slim shape will provide the least amount of
resistance when the needlefish takes the bait.
- Cast the
bobber and reel it slowly, just fast enough for the bait to travel along just under the
surface. As soon as you feel the tug of the strike, relax the line to keep the fish from
feeling any extra tension. The best way to do this quickly is to hold your rod parallel to
the shore when you are reeling, then point the rod at the fish as soon as he strikes. This
will give him four or five feet of loose line.
the fish three or four seconds to gulp the bait then pull the rod back. If youve
hooked him, hell go straight up into the air. Be sure you keep your bait moving.
Needlefish dont seem to like a drifting dead bait. They like action.