Tony Soltys hooks up to a Picasso triggerfish while underwater fly fishing. Tony and 12-year-old grandson Alain Thomas Soltys-Gray landed and released all the fish they caught unharmed.

Tony Soltys hooks up to a Picasso triggerfish while underwater fly fishing. Tony and 12-year-old grandson Alain Thomas Soltys-Gray landed and released all the fish they caught unharmed.

Traveling Outside: Underwater fly fishing in Maui


Recently, on a family trip to Maui, my grandson Alain and I decided to try fly-fishing not only for different species, but in a way we’d never even heard of. Instead of fishing from shore, we fished underwater.


The fish were in deep water, so we swam out to where they were. We didn’t use a fly rod; instead, we just dropped our fly down to the fish straight from a fly reel as we snorkeled above them. We gave the fly the right movement to get them interested. It was pretty hard at first, because we used the flies my grandfather uses for bonefish at Christmas Island, but they didn’t work. So I had to tie up some of my own that the tropical reef fish would eat. Next, we had to jiggle the fly just right for the fish we spotted. It was great swimming with the fish and being able to see how they reacted to our flies and how we moved them.

After that we had to find some reefs that weren’t loaded with swimmers, swim through the surf and locate some hungry fish on coral reefs. We knew from visits to the Maui Aquarium that some of the reef fish were carnivores, and these were the ones we might interest in hitting a fly. Trumpetfish, needlefish, triggerfish, manybar goatfish, boxfish and trevally became our targets. We decided to ignore the scary looking moray eels. The numerous turtles, octopus, and solitary manta ray fortunately decided to ignore us, but were great to observe.

I like to fly fish, but this takes it to a whole new level. They were so hard to catch. I loved how you could see the fish and interact with them underwater. Also, we got to visit spots where there were fewer people. I noticed that for most of the fish we targeted I would have to jerk the fly and let it sink again and again while trolling (swimming quickly) around.


We figured out this is a way to fly fish that we haven’t heard about before. The other tropical fish, turtles, octopus, and the fun you have snorkeling new reefs on Maui would make a no-fish-caught-day time well spent. It’s not a sure thing you’ll catch fish. In the three weeks we were there, we managed to catch several trumpetfish, needlefish and a few humuhumu (also called the Picasso triggerfish,) flounders, boxfish and goat fish. Those and plenty of other fish are still there, since we released all the fish we caught unharmed. Alain tried this new-to-us type of fly-fishing instead of enjoying the surfing and Grand Wailea water slides.

I must mention that although I, Alain’s 75-year-old-grandfather, used a snorkel, Alain free-dived. Much credit is due the Glacier Swim Club last year for making him so confident in the water.


Next year I’d like to catch a humuhumu and more needlefish, but mostly to catch a trevalley. I haven’t made the right fly… yet!

• Tony Soltys is president of Juneau’s flyfishing group, Raincountry Flyfishers; Alain Thomas Soltys-Gray is Soltys’ 12-year-old grandson and a sixth-grader at Floyd Dryden Middle School.

A sea turtle checks out Alain Thoms Soltys-Gray and Tony Soltys, two Juneau flyfishers perfecting their underwater fishing technique.

A sea turtle checks out Alain Thoms Soltys-Gray and Tony Soltys, two Juneau flyfishers perfecting their underwater fishing technique.

More in Neighbors

Fred LaPlante is the pastor at the Juneau Church of the Nazarene. (Photo courtesy of Fred LaPlante)
Living and Growing: Be a blessing

Years ago, I learned a great acronym, B.L.E.S.S. “B” stands for “Begin… Continue reading

Salad ingredients ready to assemble. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Mexican corn and bean salad

Several years ago, I ate at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Los… Continue reading

The interior of the Pipeline Skate Park on Dec. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Join interactive design meeting for Jackie Renninger Park on May 21 CBJ… Continue reading

A new online dictionary features Lingít, X̱aad Kíl, Shm’algyack and English. (Mircea Brown / Courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)
Neighbors: Sealaska Heritage Institute debuts multilingual online Alaska Native dictionary with audio

Platform includes resources for Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages.

Brent Merten is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Juneau, a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. (Photo courtesy of Brent Merten)
Living and Growing: Your room is waiting

Thursday, May 9, is a very special day. Although most calendars don’t… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Living and Growing: Twisting Scripture to suit themselves

Ever wonder why so many different people say so many different things… Continue reading

The Ward Lake Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Neighbors: Public input sought as Tongass begins revising 25-year-old forest plan

Initial phase focuses on listening, informing, and gathering feedback.

Sister Sadria Akina, Elder Tanner Christensen and Elder Bronson Forsberg, all missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, collect litter on April 22, 2023, in the Lemon Creek area. It was their first time partaking in Juneau’s communitywide cleanup. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Annual Litter Free citywide cleanup on Saturday Saturday is set for Litter… Continue reading

Tortilla beef casserole ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Tortilla beef casserole for Cinco de Maya

When my kids were growing up their appetites were insatiable. Every night… Continue reading

An aging outhouse on the pier extending out from the fire station that’s purportedly the only public toilet in Tenakee Springs in August of 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Gimme a Smile: Is it artificial intelligence or just automatic?

Our nation is obsessed with AI these days. Artificial intelligence is writing… Continue reading

Adam Bauer of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Bahá’ís of Juneau.
Living and Growing: Embracing progress while honoring Our roots

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that we are… Continue reading

Maj. Gina Halverson is co-leader of The Salvation Army Juneau Corps. (Robert DeBerry/The Salvation Army)
Living and Growing: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Ever have to say goodbye unexpectedly? A car accident, a drug overdose,… Continue reading