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Hanalei Bay

The Pier at Hanalei Bay on a rainy day. The bay is now occupied more with pleasure crafts than fishing boats.


Samson's father fished commercially, especially for akule. He was very skillful at discerning different types of fish. Samson says, "we never spent too much time talking about the particulars, we never had those curiosities as we were growing up. We just knew that if any were fish around, he's going see them, and he's going know what kind, period." But as Samson relates, this was not always an easy task:



"I know Kalani always used to come get him, if he'd seen fish from Lumahai. And after they'd see them then they'd say, 'yeah, but what if that's akule?' So they end up, they go out and surround the fish with a net anyway. Because they're so worried about, 'what if that's akule? The other guy get lucky, eh?' So they surround them. But then that ‘o‘io bust the hell out of the net."

Akule are a small variety within the category of Jacks and Trevallies (Carangoides and Caranx), known in Hawaiian by the names ulua and papio (applied to the young). This family of fish as a whole are strong-swimming, open-water carnivores, with the larger jacks being prized as game fish.



Photo reproduced with permission from John E. Randall's Shore Fishes of Hawaii



Photo reproduced with permission from John E. Randall's Shore Fishes of Hawaii


The ‘O‘io is a very different story. A far more primitive type of fish, the ‘o‘io is classified among the Bonefish (Albulidae). As Jack Randall points out, bonefishes like the ‘o‘io are famous as game fishes, but are not often eaten, as their common name reflects the numerous small bones found in their flesh. But Randall adds that they are indeed difficult to distinguish.

Samson recalls, "We caught the ‘o‘io too, but I don't know what it brought for a price. I would think, akule would be better. I'd rather eat akule than eat ‘o‘io. Of course, there's guys what like ‘o‘io. But I think the only thing good about ‘o‘io that I know is, to make fish cake out of it."

Fishing requires decisions about method and approach, and these vary with one's approach to the business as much as it does with one's personal preferences. Here, Samson reflects on lessons learned from his father:

"In rock fishing, he never did fish just any time. He liked to go at rising tide, or after rising tide, and this time of fishing is maybe ten to twelve o'clock in the night, and that's his favorite hour. He never cared for the morning hour. But from ten to midnight, maybe to early morning about till one o'clock, if the tide was good, those times, that's the best time for him. Throw net. A lot of patience."


Moi. According to Samson, these fish ran outside the outside the breakers at Hanakapia from the second week of April. Photo reproduced with permission from John E. Randall's Shore Fishes of Hawaii



"Bag net is all we used, not gill net. My old man always told us, 'What's the sense of catching the fish one minute, and it takes you one day to open the fish?' Well, that was clear enough. When my brother was just getting into his own, he used to go with all the seasoned fisherman, they were going in the afternoon, and the tide was kind of high, and those guys get heavy nets. And my father always talked about heavy nets, he'd tell us, 'The logic about heavy net on big school is all right, but the bad thing about heavy net is, it's too heavy for you, how long can you hold and be at ready? You cannot, there's not way. So what's going to happen is going to frustrate you. And then pretty soon you might not come fishing!"

"So afterwards, we figure, why make big nets then? If you cover a big area, then you're going to cover the hole where the fish can run away from you! So you don't want a big net, cover everything. You cover the fish, but you're not going to catch them."



"The idea is catch them," Samson, says, leaving us with a final thought. "No worry about get rid. Easy for get rid. Too much is no problem, because you always got your neighbor, eh? Many guys like fish, but they no like do nothing."



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