Na Upena Lawai'a O Ka Wa Kahiko Me Ka Lakou Mau Hana / The Fishing Nets of Old and Their Uses

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Na Upena Lawai'a O Ka Wa Kahiko Me Ka Lakou Mau Hana / The Fishing Nets of Old and Their Uses

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


As for the Poupou [short, stocky] net. This type of net is for all kinds of fish, except for those big fish like the nenue, and the uhu for which different nets are used.  However, all of the various kinds of smaller fish are caught in this net.  If the manini is the fish you desire, then go early in the morning to dive for hālula sea urchin because that is the bait for all of the fish caught in this net.

When you dive for the hālula, dive with a long stick to stab the hālula, and in front of the hand that's holding the stick, you should use cross-shaped sticks as guards so that the hālula cannot slide up the stick and prick your hand.  You should get between five to seven hālula stabbed on your stick, and that will be enough bait so that you will not run out.  Then take [that bait] back to a spot where the manini constantly run, and lower the net.  The manini will run straight into the net, and then pull it up and the manini will be caught.

If there are four or five manini, then use one line for each of these fish and tie them to the mesh of the net, above the pōhaku mole, the anchor stone, which I have previously explained

And once these fish have all been secured to the net, then lower it in an area for the poupou net, that is, where you commonly set the net.  If there are multitudes [unreadable] there, then not one of them will be spared.  It is because of those fish tied to the net as decoys, wiggling here and there, that the other fish outside are attracted into the net.

If all of the fish in this poupou area are gone, then go to another spot.  And if those first decoy fish have become too limp, then replace them with new ones.  And draw in the net in a spot that it is normally lowered, this spot is termed an au.  Men who always fish for manini don't go inland to farm, because the fish is his garden to weed, and to plant, and to grow, and cover with a layer of grass or cover with a layer of wetness.  Fishermen get lots of taro.  That is the only endeavor of these people all year.  They must go every day [to tend to their food]. For the people of ancient times, they only stopped working when they became very weak and old.

If the pōuouo [bag net with two-finger mesh] fisherman desires pānuhunuhu to be their catch, then go diving for hālula in the early morning, because this is the time when there are plenty of fish.  Then, when you have gotten the hālula, strike it with a stick until it is crushed, and then put it inside the net and lower the net in an area for pōuouo nets where you know this fish can be found in large numbers.

When you lower the net, look carefully at all of the different kinds of fish.  And look for the fish that you desire, namely the pānuhunuhu.  When you see that it has entered the net, then pull it up.  Then use a decoy line; on this decoy line, there is a spike that pierces the mouth of the fish, and like what is done with the manini fish, the same is done with all types of fish.  Then the pānuhunuhu is secured to the net.

If there is only one fish that entered the net, pull it up.  If, perhaps, there are four pānuhunuhu, pull up the net.  And you proceed thus, over and over again.  When you see that all the fish in that area are gone, move to a different fishing spot. When you decide that you have enough of that type of fish, use a different fish as a decoy since there are many different kinds of fish that will enter into this net.  On the ends of some sticks of ‘ūlei wood, two rocks are fastened.  These dense, smooth basalt stones are carefully sought, and they must have holes in which you can thread a line and tie the rocks securely.

Bind them to the ends of the ‘ūlei sticks, one on each end.  The most ferocious among these little fishes is the halahala fish.  Vigilantly watch out for this species of fish, for it will run into the net to kill the fish that is being used as a decoy.

When you see [the halahala] nearing the ‘ūlei sticks, and the head enters [the net], you must pull it up immediately lest it get the decoy fish.  This is because he will be unable to get out of the net, since the net slackens when it is pulled up.

Take the net to be released in the the fishing spot, which is where to lower the net.  When you have lowered the net and left it down in the water, all kinds of fish will swarm around, however, when this kind of fish sees that this is their companion, they will quickly enter into the net.  When they enter the net, pull it up.  You cannot wait until there are many fish inside the net to pull it up.

Some of these types of nets were used by the old people along with fish baskets that were affixed to floaters in the ocean.  If while lowering the net, one caught a ‘ōpule or a moano, then the person manning the pōuouo net would take these fish and put them into the fish basket, since these fish were an easy catch.

Then you won't be spending the early morning diving for hālula.  You just take the fish you want to use as decoy.  If the ‘ōpule fish is what you want to use as a decoy, then pierce the lip securely with the spike and the decoy thread, then take the fish a little above the pōhaku mole, where you secure it to the mesh of the net. Then, take your net to a good spot where you can lower your net.


(To Be Continued.)


(click image for original Hawaiian text)

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, March 22, 1923
, Book: 62, Number: 12, Page: 3