Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ancient Hawaiian Fishing Practices

Being a fisherman, a poe lawaia, in old Hawai'i was an honorable profession, one that grandparents handed down to the boys in the family.

With a working knowledge of fishing areas and seasons and an array of implements, a fisherman supplied his family or his ali'i (Royalty, King ) with fish and shellfish from streams, fishponds, reefs and the Ocean. Sometimes the catch was so huge, they gave the left over fish to the Pigs and dogs, and/or dried it for food and fuel for the fire.

Those fishermen that could supply large amounts of fish from ponds or ocean canoes were believed to possess much "mana" or supernatural power, to attract fish at will or make them multiply.

Successful fishing implements, such as hooks or cowry shell lures became famous and were prized, and passed down to the next generation.

For deep-sea fishing, many ingenious fishing methods were used. Sometimes the lures were made up of shiny puau shells and pigs hair, and were used to catch Aku from canoes, much like the modern fishermen of today. No compasses as we know them were available to the hawaiian fisherman, yet by reading the stars, watching the flying birds, the shape and color of clouds, the ancient hawaiian fisherman could guide his canoe or fleet through thousands of miles of open ocean.

Fishing was truly an art form, yet it was a necessity for survival.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fishing and crabbing up in Washington and Oregon

I just got back from 2 weeks on the coast of Washington and Oregon. The weather this September was "nice" for that time of year. This Maui girl was wearing shorts and a winter jacket everywhere. I could not not believe the difference in temperature from the shade, and 2 steps over in the Sun! There must have been a 15 degree difference!

My dad has a sail boat, an Islander 33, up in Blaine Wa. We took the boat out and went crabbing for Dungeness Crab, my favorite! (after buying an $18.00 -1 day- License) I was allowed to bring in 6 crab and they had to be bigger than 5.25 Inches accross the shell. (I just wish they had told me how to tell the females from the males, so I could throw them back. I realized after cooking them that 2 of the 6 were females with eggs). All said though I had a great time, going crabbing is one of my favorite things when I visit my dad.

My dad also has property in Waldport Or.; after a few days in Blaine, we headed down the coast to Oregon. I love Newport and the historical district with all the fishing boats and Crab! I usually like to walk the docks talking to the fishermen and buying my crab and fish direct, something we can not do here on Maui, rarely anyway.

The salmon fishing is really bad this year, the fishermen and the 'agents' all agreed, we could sign up for Salmon fishing and we were allowed to keep 2 Salmon, and then they would fish for "Rock fish" on the way back in to the harbor. I checked prices and availbilty in both Newport and Depoe Bay farther north (they advertise the smallest harbor in the world, I do not think they have seen Maalaea bay here on Maui!) Prices averaged about $85.00 + your fishing License.

The fish the boats were bringing were pretty small by our Hawaii standards. No wonder everyone wants to go Sport Fishing when they come to Hawaii! I had lunch & coctails at Dock One in Newport Or. and watched the fishing boats come in and filet up their fish & talk about small! The Commercial fishermen mostly had Tuna, which I was not interested in as we have Tuna-ahi in abundance off Hawaii, where as the boats taking customers were bringing in mostly Rock fish.

Here in Hawaii, you do not need a fishing license to go out and try your hand at catching a big Marlin or Mahi Mahi, and our smallest tunas are much bigger than anything I saw on the Mainland.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ono are impressive predators with razor sharp teeth

Popular Name: Wahoo

The Ono is a long, narrow and powerful fish that averages about 4-6 feet in length, and weighs about 15-60 pounds. With it's razor sharp teeth, the ono is an impressive predator that can swim up to 50 miles and hour and can attack both lures and bait with lightening fasts strikes, making them a favorite fish to hook up to. It's sharp teeth are perfectly designed for slashing, with the jaws working more like a pair of scissors.

The back is an iridescent bluish green; the sides are silvery with cobalt blue vertical stripes.

*Thank you to Tad and Cindy Lucky of Lucky Strike Charters for this photo taken on one of their fishing Charters.

Ono tend to be a solitary fish and their diet consists mostly of other fish (those teeth are good for bottom fishing) and squid. We do not see many Ono during the winter months.

Ono means 'Delicious' in Hawaiian and boy is it ever! Like Mahi Mahi, there are plenty of ways to prepare Ono. Ono has firm white meat and can even be cooked on the grill with just a little oil on it.

Striped marlin are fun to catch as they can hit all your lures at once

Hawaiian Name: a'u

While you can catch striped marlin year round, the winter months are the best time in Hawaii to catch stripers, which are relatively small compared to Pacific Blues. Stripers are on average about 25-125 pounds, however they can get up to 200 pounds, and while the average striped marlins are smaller, they are also fun to catch and multiple strikes on your lines are common when trolling, as schools of striped marlin like to attack all at once! While stripers are essentially lone hunters like the Blues, stripers will travel in male/female pairs or even in schools.

Marlins have scales, fins on the belly, and a rounded spear which set them apart from swordfish which have no scales; stripers also have the most pronounced vertical line markings, hence their name. The spear of the marlin is sometimes used as a weapon for defense as well as for capturing food, usually by stunning its prey by slashing sideways with the spear, rather than impaling the fish like one might expect.

Striped marlins eat mostly fish, while rounding out their diet with crab, squid and shrimp; believed to spawn in the Pacific Northwest and migrate as juveniles, they have been known to travel up to 30 miles in a day.

Most striped marlins are caught trolling lures. When the conditions are conducive, (stripers usually need to be seen visually first) live baiting can be great fun. After setting your live bait: ahi (tuna) or aku (skipjack tuna) and letting it swim, most captains then troll the boat at slow speeds in order to create a conflict between the live bait and the marlin. The live bait starts getting anxious when the strike is impending. *This is where the experience of your Captain and crew comes in. Feel free to call us on our toll free # @ 1-888-841-9155 to get our recommendations.

Marlins open their mouths wide and can engulf the entire fish bait, so the hook needs to be set in 3-12 seconds. * Different Captains believe in different counts, some say 3-5 seconds or the fish and lure are history- the fights is less enjoyable, and the death rate goes up for the marlin; while other Captains contend you need to count to at least 10 seconds after the initial strike.

Pacific Blue Marlin: the Ultimate Trophy Fish

Hawaiian Name: A'u

The Pacific Blue Marlin is at the top of it's food chain, and is the largest, most beautiful, and one of the most powerful fish in the Ocean!

The males rarely get over 300 pounds, while the female is your trophy fish, coming in at up to 1,800 pounds! They feed primarily on tunas and other palagic fish. Pacific Blue Marlin can be caught year round, however the summer months of June, July and August are the best fishing for Blue Marlin.

The thrill of hooking up to one of these huge beasts is the hope of every fisherman and is one of the things that keeps us all going out as often as we can. Pacific Blue Marlin can put up a great fight! Jumping in and out of the water, with lots of surface action, bringing in one of these monsters can take several hours. If you get a boat that likes to live bait, the Aku is a favorite with fishermen. They say where there’s Aku, there’s usually Marlin. Once you Rig your fresh caught Aku, the boats troll at slow speeds just outside the school creating the disturbance and fear that predators (Marlin) sense so well.

One 589 pound Marlin we know of took just over 6 hours to bring in! Since this particular Marlin was caught on Rascal Fishing charters during a tournament, that means she was a big money fish! Only the angler who hooked up to her was allowed to touch the pole and he had to bring her up and in, all alone. For 6 hours he fought to bring her in, knowing he couldn't just let go, because then the whole crew losses out on the tournament money, not to mention the fame and fun that goes with winning a big Fishing Tournament. (Good Job Dave!)

Blue Marlin are typically caught around Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii, trolling with artificial lures and live bait. Most fishing vessels encourage a catch and release program on Marlin if possible.

Captain Kevin, the owner of Rascal Fishing charters (out of Maalaea Harbor, Maui) sent me over this 90 second video of a Blue Marlin as they bring it up to the boat. Captain JJ is intent on bringing this big marlin close to the boat so he can release it.