Fishing. Tradition. Spirituality. Family.
From Genesis after the earth cooled, the land, the rivers, lakes,
streams and oceans filled and were populated; fish became a major means of
For many, many centuries fishing, the world over, was and still is a
tradition for feeding our families and nourishing our bodies.
Our forefathers recognized the bounty of the sea. The lesson handed
down to each generation is – harvest the bounty that you need, leave the rest
for tomorrow and for future generations.
The word “fishing” most often brings to mind catching one’s personal
best. For Santiago in Earnest Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea fishing
was a time to be focused, to be committed, to have planned and to be alone
in his boat with his well-worn equipment. At the battle’s end his only
comfort was that he knew he had done the best that he could do.
The reality of fishing involves planning well, being safe, being ready
and willing to exert the needed effort and smiling even though at the end of
the day the ice chest is still empty because there is still another day and that
day may be better.
One special occasion my son David, a friend Dave Bloch of Maui and
I went on an outing. After unloading our gear and pitching camp we got out
our spinning reels, tied on our damashi rigs (a multiple rig with small hooks
decorated with flashy bits of feathers or plastic) and set out in search of live
bait. David landed an enenue (silver black rudder fish). Dave and I had to
settle for tako (octopus) Dave had speared the day before. As dusk began to
settle we cast out our lines and set our poles. We retreated to camp, stir fried
fresh veggies, grilled marinated chicken, and cooked our potatoes in the
embers. The food in the great salt air was ono (delicious). We waited with
great anticipation. Then, suddenly, out of the still night two bells started
clanging. The poles were in a deep bend. We raced to the poles. Within
minutes the line to the first pole went slack – the fish had broken off. For
David the fight was on. Dave watched the direction of the line, called out
instructions so proper line and pole pressure was applied to steer the fish
away form the razor sharp coral heads. David brought the fish to the ledge
and with Dave’s skill the fish was landed – a 10 lb. ulua.
This was a memorable moment for all of us. In the morning after hot
coffee and Hostess Twinkies we broke camp and headed home. David’s fish
was filleted. My Mom made sashimi plates for her friends and the
neighbors. Mom, David and I dined in style that evening.
Many of my most treasured moments are family outings. My
daughter Lee caught her first fish on a clear, spring fed mountain stream at a
wilderness camp. The rod and closed-face reel (enabling a cast using a
button on the reel) was inexpensive available from K-Mart, Target, Sears or
local fishing store. The combination set included rod, reel, line and a small
assortment of lures. On one other outing while having a country style
breakfast bright, multi-hued hummingbirds, their wings whirring like jet
turbines came up to our window to feed. This was an amazing sight to
behold. Other fishing outings were on the Current and Meremac Rivers in
Missouri. Even though I have no photographs, the images are firmly within
my heart and mind.
Fishing will bring you even closer to your very best friend. On one
occasion Dave Innis, his father in law and brother in law fished twin lakes in
Ontario, Canada. After a long drive from St. Louis, Missouri through
International Falls we arrived at our take off point. Our Beaver (single-
engine float plane) was loaded. After a 2 hour flight we landed on the water
and were dropped off. Every morning we enjoyed a hearty woodman’s
breakfast (super sized pancakes, drizzled with butter, covered with covered
with strawberry jelly we purchased after crossing the border and a small side
of Jimmy Dean’s Country style sausage) we boarded our boat and departed
to fish. After an open throttle run to our portage (beaching our boat and
hiking with gear to our sister lake) we started fishing for Canadian walleye.
Our only break was for our shore lunch. We did as Dave had done it for the
many years he had fished this lake – fried walleye, potatoes and onions.
Dave’s favorite, Labatt’s Crystal Beer Blue Label. We would head back
after lunch to our cabin and rest. In the late afternoon we would head out to
fish for lake trout and northern pike. We used ultra light gear (2 lb. test
monofilament line). The lake trout averaged 6 lbs. We never lost one. We
never had one break off our line.
The only fish that got away was a great northern pike. We fished wit
¼ ounce lead jigs, painted yellow with tied on yellow feathers. Each of us
was responsible for making our own jigs. The water depth was about 80 to
95 feet. That evening, the air became still. The lake trout stopped biting.
I felt what I thought was a strike. Then I felt nothing. After several
attempts to turn the handle to my spinning reel I could not reel in any line. I
said, “Dave I am caught on the rock ledge and I am going to break my line.”
From the bow, Dave called back, “Be patient. You may have a great
northern at the end of your line. He will not move. He will sit until he feels
safe.” I sat motionless for what seemed an eternity. Then my line started to
move. I kept steady line pressure with my rod and reel. The fish made 6
runs. Each time I was successful in stopping the fish from spooling my reel.
An hour and forty five minutes passed. I could see the fish. Dave called in a
calm voice, “He looks to be 20-25 lbs. He is too big for our net. We need to
land him by hand. You need to bring him alongside.” I did as instructed.
At that moment I looked down into the water. Just as I did the eyes of
the fish and mine were locked. Spontaneously, swiftly, the fish dove
beneath the boat. I let out line and went around the stern (rear) of the boat to
stay clear of the propeller blades of our outboard motor. The battle from the
right side of the boat lasted for about 35 minutes. Suddenly, in a burst of
power, the fish turned and headed back to the boat. The great northern made
a complete loop from right to left around the boat. I tried to keep with the
fish’s movement but he was too swift. He cut the line with the propeller of
our outboard. He was free to roam the depths of the lake. He was King!
Fishing should not be its own realization. There is much more to
fishing than catching fish. My first introduction was at a dinner party hosted
by my friend Bob Maruziak and others at a country restaurant in the German
countryside. Outside our table was a pond surrounding by willows. As the
sun set the reflection from the water turned golden. The mayflies
(Eintagsfliege. In German) began to dance. They appeared like petals
floating in the crisp air. The brown trout (Lassföhren, In German) began to
feed. This one of Mother Nature’s magnificent moments.
David and I are avid readers. One of our favorite authors is John
Gierach. Mr. Gierach shares a wealth of information on trout fishing. Most
importantly is this basic theme – Even if your creel (fish basket) is empty at
day’s end you have been blessed by being with and experiencing the best
that nature has to offer. This is a priceless gift.
How to catch fish? The Hawaii State Library System and library in
your community library have a wealth of information.
Check out books, periodicals and magazines that are available. Read,
Learn, Practice from the lessons shared by experienced fisherman. My
favorite author is Jim Rizzuto.
Gather up the family, extend an invitation to others in your ohana.
Pack a picnic or better yet have a pot luck gathering.
Relax, enjoy, fast forward your everyday cares for another day. Take
lots of pictures or video. This is a special time, precious moments, a time
All of this sounds like hard work to arrange and organize, it is. The
richness and rewards of these lifetime memories will be cherished today,
tomorrow and by each succeeding generation.