Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hand Fishing...

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time at Kalaeloa when it was still an active military base known as Barber's Point. I used to spend most of my time at the beach exploring the coral and tidal pools. There was one section of exposed reef which had a channel and every time I approached, the myriad of fishes would scramble and hide in various holes in the reef. I discovered that one hole always had a wrasse hiding in it and I could stick my hand in the hole, feel the roof with my fingers, and sure enough, the slippery side of a beautiful colorful wrasse would be mine if I gently cupped my fingers and extracted my prize. I would then let the wrasse go and I could catch him again the next day if I employed the same technique.

Of course, when military personnel brought their family down to that section of the beach, I would often ask the kids if they wanted me to catch a fish with my bare hands. They would always say yes. Then I would throw in some dramatic fish searching maneuvers, talk about viscious moray eels, and always end up at my secret spot and put my hand in. After making some faces and noises, I would produce the most brilliant colored Hinalea to show them. They could look up close at the fish, touch his side, and when we were finished, I would let the wrasse go, even despite protestations to put him in a bucket or outstretched hand or net. I think they enjoyed seeing the Hawaiian boy catch fish with my bare hands.

I did that trick about twenty to twenty-five times as a child. I am not sure if it was always the same Hinalea in the hole but we managed to thrill little children for quite awhile. We were quite the team. Until I ate him. I never found another partner quite as cooperative. Or as tasty...