The ‘Ewa Beach Young Gentlemen’s Fishing Society
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I was fortunate enough to witness a recent meeting of the ‘Ewa Beach Young Gentlemen’s Fishing society. A quartet they are, for now, but their numbers are sure to grow.
The society doesn’t have a membership fee, and participation doesn’t require any special equipment. Alloy steel fishing rods? Depth finders? Elaborate lures? No, for these aspiring watermen, a bamboo stick and some baitfish will do.
Before ‘Ewa was known for sugar, it was known for fishing. Traditional stories about the area tell of the importance of staying silent near ‘Ewa Beach, for fear of scaring away the fish. According to legend, it was a favorite fishing ground for royals. It definitely was for regular folks.
Folks who lived near the shore would catch fish not just for themselves, but for their family who lived further up the valley. According to the Hawaiian historian Mary Kewana Pukui:
Ohana living inland (ko kula uka), raising taro, bananas, wauke (for tapa, or barkcloth, making), and olona [for cordage], and needing gourds, coconuts and marine foods, would take a gift to some ‘ohana living near the shore (ko kula kai) and in return would receive fish or whatever was needed.
I do not know whether the young gentlemen of ‘Ewa Beach plan to share their catch, but they were working hard for it. They told me they started their fishing day at Hau Bush, about a mile down the shore from where I encountered them.
As the meeting drew to a close, I asked the club president for a final report, as he walked along the shore.
“How many fish did you catch?”
He stopped and turned toward me, a thoughtful look on his face.
“Umm, a lot.”