Kaua‘i Remembered: Fishing

Fishing has always been a favorite sport of mine…any kind of fishing. This section will be different stories of the various type of fishing that I have engaged in. I think my first experience was crabbing off the old Niumalu Bridge at the mouth of the Hule‘ia Stream. Then it was catching o‘opu (goby) and opae (shrimp) at Kalapaki. The o’opu was used to cast for kaku (barracuda) and papio (young trevally) but the opae, we ate ourselves. We would make spears out of baling wire and spear the opae. When we had a pretty good supply we would boil them in a pot over an open fire. This was when I was about seven through ten years of age. Later it was casting for kaku in Nawiliwili and learning to throw net at KipuKai.

In 1954 I went fishing with Bo Rice out of Hanalei several times. Bo had a small sampan and trolled primarily for aku (tuna) which he sold in the local markets. The first day off the Kilauea Light House we spotted Iwa (great frigate bird) almost motionless above and to the right of the boat. Bo steered to a spot under the Iwa and right away we got a strike. Bo made me reel in the fish and it was nice big mahimahi of about forty-five pounds. I was thrilled and he was happy. About three days later, we went the other way towards Mana but couldn’t find anything. At about 1 p.m., Bo said that we should start back toward Hanalei. We turned and started back but in about twenty minutes or so we saw all the birds suddenly turn and start flying back to where we had come from. Looking back we saw the bird frantically diving on some bait so we turned and went back. When we got there we found a ball of six inch opelu (mackerel scad) being besieged both from above and below. We pulled in all of our trolling line and set up one bamboo pole which was used for baitless fishing. We started to pull in fish like there was no tomorrow. There were three of us who would take turns pulling in the four to five pound aku, taking about fifteen minute turns. All the while the small opelu remained in a tight ball on the surface. Finally a seven foot mano (shark) arrived and started to eat his way through the ball. This was a gruesome sight. After about two hours of pulling in fish we must have had almost a ton of fish when they stopped biting. It was now too late to head back to Hanalei so we went to Port Allen instead. At Port Allen Bo made arrangements with a store to refrigerate the fish overnight and the next day shipped all the fish by Young Brothers barge to Hawaiian Tuna Packers Cannery in Honolulu as there was no way he could sell that many fish here on Kaua’i. This was an experience that I will never forget.

In 1955 Dick Davis, who was working at Hale Kaua’i, and I bought an unfinished kit boat from Sam Wilcox and finished it ourselves. The boat was 21 feet long and had a 35 horsepower Universal marine gas engine. We named the boat the “No Huhu” (no get mad) to remind our wives not to get mad at us when we went fishing. We launched the boat before the end of the year. Dick Davis left Hale Kaua’i in the beginning of 1956 so I bought his share in the boat from him. Later that summer I took the boat to Hanalei and had pretty good success at fishing. We caught lots of ono (wahoo) and small ahi (yellow fin tuna) but no other kinds of fish. At the end of August I took the boat back to Nawiliwili because the surf and weather conditions could not be trusted from the first of September on. We didn’t have the weather reports and forecasting that we have today.

In March of 1957 Nancy (my wife) came and got me at work one Saturday morning and said that there was a Tsunami coming and took me down to Nawiliwili where the boat was moored. The engine wasn’t used for over a month but started right up. I wasn’t too keen about going out to sea so with David (my son) aboard I took the boat up the Hule’ia River. About two miles upstream just before the end of tidewater, there was a grove of mango trees whose branches hung out over the water. I tied the bow to one branch and stern to another. I then heard branches being broken down the river and knew that the wave was coming. I pulled the boat as close to the bank as I could and told David to go to the highest ground he could. I stayed with the boat with the intent that I would swing up into the mango branches if the water got too high. The water only rose about eighteen inches and that was the end of the danger. Just opposite of the upper end of the Menehune fishpond the river makes a sharp turn and most of the force of the wave was dissipated there. I left the boat there for about two weeks and then brought it back to its dock in the Harbor. One accidental benefit of the stay in the fresh water was that all the salt water algae were killed by the fresh water and the bottom of the boat was nice and clean.

The next two summers it was back to Hanalei for more fishing. One Saturday afternoon Bill Akana, Bill Case, Bob Englehard and I went down the Napali Coast and spent the night at Nualolo Kai. On the way down the coast just off Hanakapiai we got a triple strike. They were ulua (trevally) and averaged about thirty-five pounds apiece. We went back to Ke‘e and got Nancy to take them to a store in Hanalei to hold in refrigeration overnight. Coming home from Nualolo the next day we caught two more in the same place. This was in 1958 and later that summer we had a hurricane but luckily the winds were only about eight-five miles per hour so that the boat rode out the storm nicely. Three days after the hurricane Dick Slogett Jr. and I went as far as Hanakapiai and caught an ono and an ulua, in about two hours time. At the end of that summer I took the boat back to Nawiliwili the long way, that is, by the way of Barking Sands and Waimea to Koloa and on to Nawiliwili. I broke up the trip into two legs, the first to Kekaha and the next all the way back to Nawiliwili. In 1959 I finally sold the boat. Nancy was happy again! 


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