Kupali ("Shoreline Fishing / To pole fish from a rock")
(To pole fish from the rocks)
15th from the series: ‘Ike Ho‘omaopopo by artist: LeoHone
The literal translation of Küpali is“to stand on a cliff” but it is the Hawaiian way to say “to pole fish
from a rock or a cliff.” (Hawaiian tradition considers it bad luck to actually use the word “fishing.”)
Alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far away from any other land mass, and completelysurrounded by amazingly clear water, the Hawaiian Islands couldn’t be more ideal for shoreline fishing. Hawaiiis a state that doesn’t require a fishing license for ocean fishing and most kids raised in Hawaii start out oama fishing with bamboo poles (usually equipped with hook, lines, and sinker) – something that is never reallyoutgrown. Along the coastlines in summer and early fall, people can be seen standing knee to thigh-deep in thewater, catching oama, often to use as bait in the larger game fishing. Probably not far from these fisherman,larger groups of anglers with longer hand poles or small spinning reel & rod outfits gather to fish for halalu or the larger akule (mackerel). The abundance of reef fish accessible by simple hand pole makes it impossible to predict what will bite. However, the oama, halalu, and akule are the ones chosen season after season.
Once a reel is added to the rod, it opens the door to a whole new level of fishing. The most sought after
game fish in shore casting has to be the fierce fighting ulua. Before reaching 10 pounds, these reef fish canbe found near the shores as papio. Once they reach 10 lbs., they are automatically in the ulua category. The average size of the ulua is around 25 pounds with the trophy size ulua being over 50 lbs. In the quest for ulua, Hawaiian fisherman today have developed a unique approach called slide-bait fishing. They line the shores withlonger rods with open-faced reels and stronger multi-filament lines, all securely anchored in the rocks. Most fishermen man an average of three poles at one time. (Some 50 years ago, my father-in-law had six polesanchored at South Point on the Big Island; he wasn’t fast enough one night when a trophy sized ulua took his bait headed out to sea with his favorite pole...)
While ulua can be caught any time of the day, it is particularly productive to fish for ulua overnightduring the right moon phase. I had just finished painting my son-in-law Kekoa and the paint wasn’t yet dry onmy canvas, when we got the exciting news that Kekoa had caught his first ulua– at noon full moon phase.
... and so all along the shoreline stretches a familiar lineup of fishing poles and fishermen...
But there is another lineup we must remember. We need to look at the lineup that cannot be seen withordinary eyes – and that line that comes to us from another dimension. Stretching as far as one can “see” andbeyond is the line of Hawaiian men from centuries past – a line that goes far beyond simply tracing theshoreline of Hawaii nei today. This line that reaches back in time, revealing the ebb and flow of countless menwho all too briefly stood in this exact same place, tirelessly casting their lines into the sea for harvest or for thethrill of the ultimate catch; and, if we listen to the “music of the sea,” the rise and fall of the rolling surf highabove the wind, becomes the murmur of the long-stilled voices of the line of men who have also stood right hereon these same rocks, under the same afternoon sun... drawn by the lure of the same waters...
ON THE LEFT: Mo’opuna Kaya already has it inher blood. In this painting, she is fishing with herfather Kekoa and his father Robert. On her left, isher father’s friend Brian and her mother’s paternalgrandfather Tedi. Kaya won her first fishingcontest (the 3rd Annual Island Colors Westside UluaChallenge or ICC, May 20-22, 2011) at the age of 3 – in a Girls 12 and under category. She is shown here with her father Kekoa and her winning catch. ON THE RIGHT: Kekoa with his first ulua, weighing at 33lb.