Na Upena Lawai'a O Ka Wa Kahiko Me Ka Lakou Hana Pakahi / The Fishing Nets Of Old And Their Individual Uses

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Na Upena Lawai'a O Ka Wa Kahiko Me Ka Lakou Hana Pakahi / The Fishing Nets Of Old And Their Individual Uses

(Written by Z. P. K. Kawaikaumaiikamakaoka‘ōpua.)


This is fifth of the nets that the ancient people used, the ka‘i uhu net. All of these nets were known as designated nets. This is how the ka‘i uhu net is used:

The wood that the ancient people got for this kind of net was a type of wood known as alahe‘e. There is one piece of wood on the north, and one on the south, and so on for the west and the east, the heads of the sticks are set up as a peak, and the rope ties all of the tips of the sticks together, [then] they are fastened tight. There are fine edging cords, or ‘alihi, at the bottom of these sticks attaching them to one another.

The mesh of this uhu net measures three fingers' width, or three fingers and a finger tip.  Dark cordage is the type used to make this net.  Just below the heads of these four sticks, there are four stones, the same number of stones as sticks; the area within these fine ‘alihi cords was called an H. by the people of old, and attached to the heads of these sticks are the ropes to lift the net up and release it down into the good fishing spot, called an au.

If you do not get a decoy uhu, then you must go diving for sea urchin.  At the place you think is proper, you must crush urchins there, and continue to do so until morning light.  Then the uhu will congregate there and you will have your ho‘oloulou hook ready.

Just like casting for fish with a hook, the person casting has to carefully watch the uhu, not slacking the line, because this type of fish is not like other types of fish that pull directly away.  This kind of fish is not like that; if it eats the bait, then it wishes to escape into the rocky pits, and if there is an opening in the rocks on the other side, then it will escape on that side.  That is why this fish's taking of the bait has to be watched so carefully by the people with the ho‘oloulou hooks.

If an uhu is caught, you place it in the basket that you set up with floaters and release it there.  That basket is always attached to where you fastened it.  There is a stone below, and a rope is tied and fastened to the base of the basket, with the floater above that you will attach to the basket.  If you have caught an uhu, then only one thing remains: using the uhu you caught for pākali, a decoy line. This is how you do it:

It is with a cord that you would set up this uhu as a decoy, several or perhaps many are bound to this cord, as per the desire of the uhu fisherman; if there are ten or more, that is enough.  Making the pākali line is like making a snare to catch a chicken; they are exactly the same; the snare is larger, the pākali a bit smaller; these pākali lines are all attached to a long cord.

All of the pākali lines used are made differently.  The ones used vary in size from large to small, and smaller still, the reason being that they are made for fish that are smaller than the uhu, such as the halahala, pānuhunuhu, pākole, and lauia, and the decoys are prepared in advance.  On top of these pākali lines there is a small floater.

Just below the end of the rope there is a spike that has been fastened tight; the reason this spike is attached there is for the fish that is entering into the net, and that spike is prepared so it can be attached at the head of that pākali line.  Grab it, holding the fish that will be used as a decoy, then take out the spike and put the cord through the eye of the spike.  If the cord is too large, wrap it around the middle of the spike so that it does not come off.

If you wrap it too short, the rope will come off of the spike.  The way to poke the uhu with the spike is to thrust it through the cheek of the uhu and exit through the mouth along with the cord, bringing the end of the cord through loop, like a chicken snare or loop of sennit for catching ‘a‘ama, and pull the cord tight, then secure the cord that holds the decoys.  Make certain it is secure so the fish do not escape.

Out of all of these uhu, there are two types that are extremely aggressive, namely the uhu lāuli and the ‘a‘a kole; if these fish are seen, the person with the pākali line must take watchful care, lest these fish follow the line and bite the decoy uhu, which might be a pāhau uhu, a hiʻu kole uhu, or a keʻo.

You let out the decoy uhu to attract this uhu lāuli or ‘a‘a kole.  Once the ʻaʻa kole sees the decoy, you quickly pull the decoy in close to the canoe.

If you do that two or three times, the aggression will subside; then you attach the decoy fish to the net, and you will have also fixed a cord at the base of the net.

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(To Be Continued.)



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Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, April 5, 1923
, Book: 62, Number: 14, Page: 6