Even though we live in a tropical paradise, every once and a while it does rain in Hawaii…This week has been one of those times, and with a potential tropical storm passing by, the island of Oahu got pounded with several inches of rain overnight. But when you’re with Keawe Adventures, you needn’t worry! There is fun to be had no matter what the weather is like.
This week, during a brief break in the rain, we headed to Maunalua Bay, formerly one of the richest food production areas of ancient Oahu. In the bay, several mountain streams empty into the ocean during heavy rains, creating pockets of nutrient rich, murky water, which draw the fish in closer to investigate. So we seized the opportunity, and went out for a wade in the stormy seas!
Throw-netting is an ancient style of Hawaiian fishing, rarely seen practiced in the bustling metropolis of Honolulu today. It requires a very specialized knowledge, including knowledge of the fish habits and habitats. Makani was lucky to have been taught as a kid growing up on the Big Island. I had never been throw-netting before, so for me this was mostly a watch-and-learn experience. Wading around in the knee-deep brackish water, with storm clouds brewing above us, we patiently waited for the fish appear. According to Makani, when the water is murky with rain-runoff, the fish will swim right up to the sandbar at the mouth of the stream.
After a half hour with only one sighting, I was beginning to wonder if this was true after all…until Makani adjusted the weighted net looped over his shoulder, took a swing, and heaved the net into the onshore winds, encircling the spot where he had seen a silver flash. Seconds passed with no result, until a thrashing splash indicated the throw was a success! He reached down and pulled a 7-pound bonefish (known as o’io in Hawaiian) out of the water and carefully freed it from the net.
After the excitement of the catch settled down, Makani began to explain the proper way to care for the freshly caught fish. We put the fish in a mesh bag, and left it in the water while we kept fishing. He emphasized the importance of keeping the fish alive until it can be brined and put straight in the cooler, otherwise you risk the meat spoiling in just a day or two—wasting resources and what could have been a good meal.
After twenty more minutes of wading around trying to spot bonefish, we switched it up and went fly-fishing for a bit. Although not usually known as a fly-fishing destination, the sport is growing in popularity in Hawaii as a way to catch bonefish, with the fly imitating a tiny mantis shrimp. Fly-fishing is another sport requiring patience and a decent chunk of time…but after a half hour with no bites, we went back to throw-netting.
Walking down the beach to a new location, Makani taught me how to spot the turbulence on the surface of the water indicating mullet fish below the surface. With light winds blowing, it can be tricky to see, and several times I thought maybe I was just imagining things. But he set off wading slowly into the water, and waited for a patch of “nervous water” to come his way. Eventually a disturbance came by, and once again he swung and threw the net out in a wide loop around the spot. After a moment I saw him dive his arms down into the water, indicating another successful throw! He came up with a mullet, and waded back to shore for a photo op and to add it to the bag with the bonefish.
With 2 good sized fish and 3 hours gone by, we declared the day a success and headed back to the car to put the fish on ice and rinse off the gear. The best part about fishing on a stormy day is that you have the beach to yourself! Wading in the water all alone under gray skies adds to the mystical atmosphere of the experience, and makes for a good story. So next time you’re in Hawaii and see rain on the forecast, don’t be afraid! There are adventures to be had, if you know where to look…