(What! You tink we gone tell you our fishing secrets, just “li dat”, as we say in Hawaii?)
Just joking! Here’s how you catch fish from a sailboat in Hawaii:
1. Trolling under sail. In the photo below, you can see the trolling outriggers that allow the original 56-foot Tropic Bird to put out up to 8 trolling lines. A “normal”, relatively narrow motorboat might be able to put out 4, or at most 5, without regular horrific tangles occurring.
If you’ve got a good idea where you’re going to find the fish, trolling on the way there is a way to pick up an extra fish or two, or even to (surprise!) find the fish on your way to where you thought the fish were! Trolling under sail is nice, because the crew gets to sit under the shade awning, drinking ice tea, while they wait for one of the rubber-band “breakaways” to go “sproinggg-snap!”, the signal of a fish on. Ahh! We can do da ice tea later, guys.
2. In the photo below, you see a depiction of flagline; what mainlanders call “long line”. This is miles of 1/4-inch diameter dacron line in the ocean, with a dropper and hook every 300 feet or so, and either dead bait or live bait on the hooks. The line has floats every quarter mile or so, and floats with flags and radar reflectors every couple of miles so you can visually see it, and also see it on radar.
You let your line “soak” for anywhere from 4 hours to 12 hours before pulling it (reeling the whole thing back in), and if you’re a conscientious fisher, as we are, you check the line and remove the fish you’ve caught every couple of hours or so. Otherwise, you don’t have a chance to release fish you don’t want to catch (such as sharks; they are our Family’s Aumakua, and we protect and respect them; look that one up!).
ALSO, the sharks tend to eat fish off the longline, if they’re left there too long. Even though we respect them, we feel they should still go catch their own dinner, not cockaroach ours off the longline. It helps them leave our fish alone if we check the line for fish frequently.
3. In the photo below, you see a depiction of “ika-shibi” fishing, with the skipper of the Northern Lights in Kona, Hawaii, showing a 220-pound broadbill swordfish he caught.
There’s not a lot of good photos of ika-shibi fishing cause: A. it’s night, and it’s dark, yeah; and B. the skipper and crew often have blood all over their clothes and hands-not the best setup for picking up your iPhone and snapping a photo; and C. “bait that line and get it back in the water!” is the most important thing to do, not take photos.
“Ika” is the Japanese word for squid, and “shibi” the old Japanese word for tuna; together they mean “squid-tuna”. It was developed by Okinawan immigrants to Hawaii in the 1890’s who launched their sail-powered sampans off the beach in Hilo to catch ika (squid) at night.
One of these fishermen noticed that Something Big was stealing his ika off his little hooks before he could get them up to the surface (and sometimes stealing his entire squidfishing handline too), so he put an ika onto a Big Hook on a Big Line and caught a “shibi”- a 200-pound plus yellowfin tuna! Voila; ika-shibi! Swordfish, bigeye tuna, and other fish show up from time to time.
#4 through #9: You gotta marry into the Family before we gone tell you dese secrets, brah! Or seestah; cause we get plenty good-looking young sons wid no wife yet! Hey, you like come fishing, good-lookin?
(Note from Tim: Hawaiian tradition does not allow women to perform certain tasks such as fishing and other things; these are for Men. But we’re not traditional Hawaiians. Although we respect the culture tremendously, we do some things that are more in line with modern values of equality and respect between the sexes. When I met Susanne, one of the first things she shared with me was her fishing trip on a 70-foot boat where she not only did all the cooking and cleaning, but also gutted, headed, and iced down 24,000 pounds of ono (wahoo for you mainland types) and ahi (yellowfin tuna)). She did more work than some of the men on the boat. That’s one tough wahine!