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.)


When that uhu is coming closer to the edge of the net, that is when the person fishing for uhu must be extremely alert to that uhu ‘a‘a kole, lest it swim wildly into the net where the decoy fish is attached and bite it, making its scales fall off, and tearing up the decoy's body.

It would mean the uhu fishing would be useless, because these two types of uhu, lāuli and ‘a‘a kole, are the most aggressive of the parrotfish. When the fisherman sees that the fish has entered the edge of the net, that area around the edge called an H., then you should quickly pull up the net and grab it; you should not wait until the fish has gone all the way inside and then pull, or they will take the decoy fish.  That is how the ka‘i uhu net is used.

The Kāwa‘a Net

This is the sixth type of net of the people of old. The mesh of this net are mākolu, or three-fingers width, on the pā section, and between the pā sections, it was mālua a hoene, or two fingers and a fingertip in width, people might not understand the meaning of this word hoene; this is what it means: two fingers can enter the net-mesh, along with the tip of another finger, it can't fit all the way in.

The center of this net was fashioned for the fish that are a little bit smaller. As for the large fish, they were caught with the larger-eyed net. This net is used in a manner similar to that of the ku‘u, or gill net, meaning that  the stones are set close together in the deep part of the net. And on the pā sections, the rocks are placed somewhat farther apart; good sized larger rocks, so that the net does not lift up when the large fish come inside. Here is how to fish with this net. The canoes, both the one on the right and the one on the left, are filled with rocks, and if there are other canoes, they are also filled with rocks. These canoes are then called wa‘akau.

When these canoes are filled with stones, then you sail to the place where you would like to fish. After sailing to the place where the net is to be let down into the sea, the net canoes let out the nets where they are always set, and then one of the wa‘akau keeps watch on the deep part of the net so that it does not catch upon the 

If some part gets stuck on the rocks, then they have to dive down and arrange the net correctly, so that there is not a gap in the net and the fish escape under the net. When the net is set properly, the rightmost canoe ties the net lines to the wooden float; the leftmost canoe ties off its lines in the same manner. Then it's time to start splashing the water by tossing the rocks, so the net canoes must wait for the arrival of the wa‘akau.

At the place where the net canoes are floating, the stones are tossed together into the sea, and the canoes move together toward the net. Then someone calls out that they should dive, and they dive in together. When they get down below, they watch each other. If someone moves out too far ahead, then someone grunts to the one who is too far out in front. They grunt like this, “‘Ū”! The idea is to move forward together, without someone going out ahead.

When everyone reaches the poho, the deep part of the net, and if it has not snagged, then the divers have to lift up the net together. If some part of it does snag, and is stuck, they must toss the rock over the floater of the net, then you should surface and take a break, for one is out of breath. If the fish are all twisted in the net, then the net canoes will get their pā sections and pull them quickly onto the canoes. If one side is unsnagged all the way to the deep section where the fish are, then that canoe has to pull all of the fish onto the canoe.

This is the net that will snare the big fish, such as the uhu, nenue, palani, uhu, and all sorts of other large fish. The big fish, like the uhu, nenue, and palani, swim around the pā sections. It is rare that the large fish are caught in the deep part of the net, because the eyes of the net are very close together and the fish flee toward the area where the eyes are bigger. This type of net is easy to use; rocks are what you load on the canoe.


(To Be Continued.)


(click image for original Hawaiian text)

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, April 5, 1923
, Book: 62, Number: 14, Page: 4