E Hele Lawaia (Let’s Go Fishing)

On Monday, I came into work and started the normal daily routine we do every morning. Makani wasn’t in the office yet. I started ordering tickets for tours, replying to emails, and other normal office stuff that I knew that needed to be taken care of for the day. Makani came in and took one look at me, he said “Good you got on board shorts, we’re going fishing today!” (What a hard job right?) Makani then told me that we (and by “we” I mean Makani because he knows how and where to fish the specific type we targeting) were going to be filming for a T.V. show called “Hawaii Goes Fishing.” I started getting all the gear ready; fly-fishing rods, spinner rod, tabbies (hard felt sole shoes for walking on reef so you don’t cut up your feet), and two throw nets. After getting all the gear in the truck, we were off to a secret fishing spot to hopefully find and catch an Oio (pronounced o-e-o) or bonefish, a prized fish that people come from all over the world to fish for in Hawaii. Now, I grew up fishing all my life but that was in lakes, rivers, and creeks on the mainland, but in Hawaii I spearfish, which is a very different skill set than using rods and reels. I was excited and intrigued to learn a new way to catch fish.

On the ride to the “secret spot,” (all spots are secret when fishing) Makani and I spoke about various laws and bills trying to be passed that will affect fishing here in Hawaii. This is a big part of the Hawaiian culture and fishing in order to provide for your Ohana. We pulled into the secret spot and we were met and greeted by Margo, the hostess, and Dean, the camera man, from “Hawaii Goes Fishing.” After getting all set up Makani gave a lesson on how to use a fly-fishing rod to Margo (and me) on camera. Makani is a self-taught fly-fisherman, who’s been doing this for 10+ years and has caught some amazing fish using a fly-fishing set up. As he was going over how to cast the rod and fly to Margo, I was intently listening. I’ve tried, and failed horribly, to fly fish before but never in the ocean. After listening to Makani for 5 minutes, I learned more about fly-fishing how to’s, the do’s, and the don’ts than I have in my 20 something years of fishing. Now that Margo had the jest of it down, Makani then went over the basics of using a throw net, another method of fishing used here in Hawaii. We started to walk out to the reef, so Makani could show the crew how to use a throw net to catch fish. “10 minutes or less and I know we’ll have fish,” Makani said half jokingly as we walked out.

On the way out we were all keeping an eye out for signs of fish, such as the tails of the Oio breaking the surface when they eat in shallow water ranging from 10 inches to waist deep.  As we were walking Makani, who was in the lead with the net, stopped and pointed out a school of Manini or Convict Tangs (side note: Margo had stated that she loved Maninis as they brought back childhood memories of fishing). He slowly crept forward trying not to spook the fish. Then, he slightly bent at the knees and in one fluid movement threw the net in a perfect cast, or throw, and landed it right on the school of Manini. He had at least caught about 15 good, pan-fry sized fish, so it was back to the shore to change our gear. Walking back in I thought to myself, “Ha, Makani was right! Only about 15 minuets to get fish using just the throw net, and most of that time was used on the walk out to the reef.”

Now, we broke out the fly-fishing rod and a spinner rod. Using two types of rods would increase our chances of getting the elusively prized Oio. Makani took the fly fishing rod and Margo used the spinner rod, with a simple set up of a small lead, a small hook, and some shrimp for bait. It was now go time with all the fishing gear. With Dean and I following Makani and Margo set up, we were hopeful to catch an Oio. As we walked the reef waiting for a bite, I kept watching Makani and how he was using the fly rod, intensively studying his movements. We were waiting and talking story (local slang for having conversations or sharing old memoires) when Margo started to get a nibble! Makani told Margo to wait for just the right moment to set the hook, as fish would nibble at the bait for a little bit before they fully bite down.  At the perfect moment Makani told Margo to reel in the fish. As Margo did, she stated she thought the fish came off, but as she reeled the line in we could see the fish swimming in towards us still on the hook.  As the fish got closer I could tell it was a Weke or better known as a Goatfish. Makani went to unhook the Weke, it twitched and jumped off the hook. “Ha that makes it easy,” Makani  said jokingly. I thought that we got some good video footage of us catching fish, now we was to get the Oio.

We fished for a few hours and Dean stated that his battery had about an hour left and we hadn’t got an Oio yet, so unfortunately we decided to head in. Makani was determined to catch an Oio, so as he was walking back to the truck wading through the water he continued to fish.  Margo, Dean and I walked back on shore; we talked story about as we waited for Makani to get back to the truck. This is when Makani came walking up with a shine in his eyes. “BRAH, get the net I just seen a school of like 30+ Oio,” Makani stated excitedly. He grabbed the net and headed back out. I threw back on my tabbies and ran to catch up so I could help. Following behind Makani, I was slowly moving to make sure I never spooked the fish. Makani froze and said that the fish were right in front of him! Again with a perfect throw, he threw the net right on two Oio. CHEEHOO!! As we wrangled the fish out of the net and into the bag Makani said, “Bra, look another Oio!” Slowly creeping up on another school, Makani got prepared into his stance to throw. After a second or two, he threw the net and landed another Oio. Now, with three Oio in the bag we decided to head in.  We got in, cleaned off the gear with a quick rinse, got the fish in the cooler with ice and brine. Makani stressed that this last step was super important to keep the fish fresh. After saying our good byes to Margo and Dean, Makani and I got into the truck and headed home. Not a bad day of work, I got to learn the basics of fly-fishing and watch my boss catch some fish in a traditional Hawaiian way, and in my opinion pretty bad arse technique. Lucky we live Hawaii nei!

-Jack Wells is a tour guide at Keawe Adventures. Between 2005-2009 he served in the US Marine Infantry and is an Iraq veteran.





Respected American writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell once said, “A hero is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself.” I agree that a hero is somebody who is selfless, but he is also generous in spirit and tries to give back as much as possible and help those around him.

Keawe Adventures employs only the exceptional and those who demonstrate such desired attributes on a daily work basis. Former professional surfer Chris Gardner is such a man and he would be called into action on a calm morning of February 18, 2016. At mid morning a Bell 206 helicopter loudly grounded and slammed into the glassy waters of Pearl Harbor 20 feet from shore. Chief warrant officer Ryan Rohner, who also flies Black Hawks in the Hawaii National Guard piloted the aircraft and carried four passengers inside. After the hard impact of the crash, the helicopter quickly sank, trapping a 16-year-old Riley Dobson of Ontario and tragically claiming his life.

At the time however, Chris Gardner did not know the condition of the boy who was still strapped in his seat. What he did know, was that the mother was able to swim safely from the wreckage and screamed her son was inside the helicopter. Without hesitation two men and Chris dove into the murky waters, about 10 ft deep. They took turns cutting the teenager’s seat belt from the back of the aircraft with a knife provided by a federal officer and pulled his limp body out.

Although the heroic effort to save a young boy was in vain and ended tragically, what this incident demonstrates is that altruism emerges in many disasters and many forms. Defining a hero is more difficult than defining a coward as it is not the everyday man or woman who will run into a hellish glory of bullets without a second thought and at the risk of their own life. This is why it is with pride that I can say that Chris Gardner is a selfless hero. He does not ask for recognition for his deed and reflects on that traffic event with regret in that they were unable to save the young man. Nevertheless, Chris Gardner is a hero. Chris is a friend. And I am proud to work with him at Keawe Adventures.

IMG_20160303_194219-2 -Kate Bodendorfer is a historic guide for Pearl Harbor and battle sights at Keawe Adventures. She has worked for the five-year veteran owned company for three years and studied Asia Pacific and Military History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Find Our Marines



“Find Our Marines”

On Saturday January 23rd 2016 I was part of a Memorial Service/Continued search for our 12 Marines who were lost at sea following the collision of the two Helo’s (helicopters) carrying them on a training mission off the north shore of O’ahu, Hawaii. First off as a Marine veteran I know we leave no fellow Marine behind, no matter what we will bring our brothers and sisters home. Being able to help out our Marines is always an honor. The morning of the 23rd, I arrived too early to work. I remember feeling hope and that is the hope to find my fellow Marines. These are men who signed up to protect our country and way of life, men who risked it all every day to make sure that we have the freedoms so many of us take for granted. On that day, we got the truck loaded with supplies and headed to the location of the base camp, Keana Point on the north shore. When we got to the “Base Camp” area there were already some volunteers waiting. To see this many people this early in the morning to go look for our lost Marines was a humbling experience. As we set up our pop-up tent and linked up with the other volunteer organizations, more and more people started to show up. I remember thinking to myself how impressed I was that “Makani got all this set up in two days”. We established the shuttle service and started to set up for the prayer ceremony, which was a local Hawaiian Kumu (priest) doing the traditional Hawaiian ceremony called a Ha’ule Lani. This ceremony provided means of closure for many, as our search was being done after the official search had been called off and was now a recovery operation. The ceremony itself was very powerful. Makani gave an emotional speech and then did final roll call for our 12 Marines. I don’t think there was a dry eye in sight. To see the outpouring of love and support for our Marines from our local community was awe-inspiring. After the Ceremony everyone went to his or her respective search areas. I’ll never forget looking up toward the point and seeing so many people looking for debris, wreckage, anything at all and even god forbid our Marines. It wasn’t long until calls and texts started coming in. Questions like “is this part of the wreckage?” or “what about this?” were coming into base camp at about 1-5 texts every ½ hour or so. Then came a call about a parachute that had been found a little west of Mokuleia Beach Park. Makani and I immediately jumped into the truck and headed down to the area to check it out. Upon our arrival we found a group of volunteers and they pointed out something in the water. Makani and I were watermen and experienced (it was winter and the waves and current can be strong) and we jumped in without hesitation. Makani was smart enough to borrow a mask from some beach goers; once we got to the item we able to confirm it was a parachute and decided to pull it out. After going back to shore and retrieving my dive gear I was headed back out. However, unbeknownst to me at the time the Marines were alerted to our find, and when I got back with my dive gear in hand two Marines were present to help. A young Private first class and myself swam out to the chute and were able to cut it to get it off the reef and back on shore. It was then put in the Marines’ truck to be taken to Schofield to be checked out. After getting the chute out the water we returned to base camp. When we got back to base camp we had a small potluck and started to breakdown the camp. As we started our long drive home, both Makani and I sat in silence and let the whole day and the community’s support sink in. The amount of local support was mind-blowing and the support from all over the country was amazing. The Family that had discovered the chute had flown in from Kansas to help with the search, as the dad was a Marine veteran. It was a humbling day, from all the organizing done by Makani, to the volunteers, both the people who just heard about it thru Facebook and the volunteer originations such as Team Rubicon and Red White & Blue. This goes to show how much support the local community and this country has for our armed forces, these brave men and women who put them selves at risk everyday to protect our freedoms and way of life that many take for granted.

The selfless sacrifice of these 12 Marines is a solemn reminder of the price of Freedom.
Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.
Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri.
Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.
Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota.
Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.
Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.
Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.
Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.
Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.
Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.

Jack Wells is a guide at Keawe Adventures. Between 2005-2009 he served in the Marine Infantry and is an Iraq veteran.