Na Upena Like Ole O Ka Wa Kahiko A Me Ka Lakou Hana / The Fishing Nets Of Old And Their Uses

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Na Upena Like Ole O Ka Wa Kahiko A Me Ka Lakou Hana / The Fishing Nets Of Old And Their Uses

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


Our ‘āki‘iki‘i or lu‘ulu‘u net has been covered. Let us now move on to the second net; this is the uluulu net, a scoop net with two parallel sticks for a frame. This net is for shallow seas. Here is a love song written for this type of net, and it is truly beautiful when danced to.

I have a big fish,

That is held fast at the tail,

I go to grasp it,

As it sinks down,

This fish is a venturesome one,

That lives in the reef,

The watchman calls out,

To open the net,

And the fish is ensnared,

Like a crab with a missing claw,

There are two of us there,

In that scoop net,

It is an akule fish,

That inhabits the ocean depths,

And it is a moi fish,

That inhabits the sea foam,

The ‘Ōhiki crab is the fish,

Digging in the sand,

The story is told,

Of the scoop net.

As for the uluulu net, it is kind of similar to the holoholo net, a net into which fish run after being frightened. Two sticks are used, one on either side, and a line is attached near the end of each stick. This is the same line at the front end of the net that secures the sticks to it.

This is the easiest net to use and one person is quite enough to manage it, seeing as it is a net for shallow waters and is one often kept by farmers. This type of net is also accompanied with the jabbing of coconut fronds into reef crevices, the coconut fronds are called pula.

It is because of this pula being thrust into reef crevices that this net is named the uluulu, or agitated net. If you are in fishing ground, and there is a hole that goes straight through one side of the rock to the other, then two people are needed. The pula thruster should stand over there on the far side of the rock, and the man with the net should stand here on this side. Only good fish are ensnared in this type of net. The weke, kūmū, ʻāhuluhulu, moana, pākolekole and many other fish are caught in this net.

To use the ‘āki‘iki‘i net, you must go diving for sea urchins, but as for this net, that is not the case. All you have to do with this net is grab it and go fishing. The actual fishing depth though is the same as that with the ‘āki‘iki‘i net; the water should be one fathom or less in depth, for one shouldn't fish alone in extremely deep waters.

If there are two people in your company, however, than you can move off a bit to a deeper part of the ocean.

In the old days, these were very common nets that were kept by many, and yet in these modern times, these nets are not seen at all.

The ku‘u, gill or set net: This is perhaps the greatest and most commonly known net in all lands. This net is quite similar to those aforementioned nets that are set in shallow waters. For those first two nets, one man is sufficient.

This net, however, is dependent on having many people to drive the fish, and these people are called kāpeku or splashers. The people of old didn't do things in the same way that we do them now. For example, today the first thing we do is attach sinkers onto the net, but that is not how the people of old did it.

It was not until they went fishing that they attached the rock sinkers, held by lines that were threaded through the meshes of the upper and lower edges of the net because this net does not require a whole lot of work to set up. One area that needs to be recognized and explained on this type of net is its very middle section. This spot was called the “poho” or depression. This area was firmly secured with stone sinkers that were spread a distance apart from each other.

If there is between one fathom and one yard of net on either side of it, then the poho will be of adequate size and you can then place the stone sinkers there, setting them apart from each other. And then, the fish will run directly into the poho, where you have properly positioned the rocks.

Each side was an ‘aukiʻi[ʻaukuʻu]. And on either side of these ‘auku‘u were lines attached to the top edge of the net, and these lines were called kāwelewele lines. These were lines by which the people releasing the net could use as a guide to move themselves along the net to the place where all the lines met.

That was done to distance the fishermen from the net. There was no problem if the net was long enough. The net could be secured and managed with those lines. If one of your fellow fishermen is on the left, and one is on the right, then the man to the left should coil up his kāwelewele line in his left hand, and the man to the right should do the same.

That is done so that the line doesn't get dragged and entangled on a rock or on the floats. So, it is necessary to be well accustomed to using these lines. When the net has been set, and the two people controlling the net with the lines command the kāpeku to start slapping the water, then those two men watch closely as the fish move into the net.

If the kāpeku don't come real close to the net, then the fishermen must roll up the net with the fish inside and not wait until the fish have passed through the net or escaped. You see, that is the time when the fish jostle around and struggle strongly in the net. Now, if you have a good net, then the fish will get stuck in it, and that is that. But for some nets, the fish go into the net and then get free and escape.

When the people of old were finished fishing with a ku‘u net, they threw the rock sinkers back and didn't save them. They would wait until they went fishing again to get more rocks.

(To Be Continued.)


(click image for original Hawaiian text)

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, March 1, 1923
, Book: 62, Number: 9, Page: 5