My wife, Ginger, was born and raised on Kauai, and during the 1950s and early 1960s she’d often go fishing with her family — at the seashore, in plantation reservoirs or steams in the mountains, or in the Hanalei and Wainiha rivers.
Whenever there was heavy rain, she knew that the oopu came rushing downstream, and the Hanalei River would be loaded with them, and it was a good bet that her mom and dad would make plans to go oopu fishing that Saturday up the Hanalei River.
Over the years, the people in her family besides herself that went oopu fishing together most were her parents Al and Julie Beralas, her brothers Allan and Ronald Beralas, her grandpa Tomas Beralas and her grandma Rita Sadang, and her cousins Warren, Donald and Stewart Ditch.
Traveling to the Hanalei River from Lihue in her dad’s Ford station wagon using the old Kealia and Kalihiwai roads took about an hour and a half in those days.
They’d reach the Hanalei Bridge about 7 a.m., and from there her dad drove into Hanalei Valley about a mile upstream and parked. Then they all hiked on a dirt road to the “first mango tree” further upstream.
The “first mango tree” is where they would usually rendezvous when it was time to go home, and the “second mango tree,” further on, was another meeting place, while the “third mango tree,” still further upstream, is where they turned left from the road and went to the river to start hooking oopu.
They would use bamboo poles they cut themselves, with small hooks and leads and earthworms for bait and the catch was always plentiful.
The fishing went on all morning, while they continually moved downstream, until just about noon, when the oopu would stop biting.
After lunch, the kids would swim in the river.
They’d start packing up about 3: p.m., and by 4:30 p.m., they would hike back to the “first mango tree,” where they would all meet and walk back to the car.
At about 5:30 p.m., they would head for home.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.