Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fishing the Ala Wai in the olden days

I was never a fisherman anywhere, not like guys who are seriously into it. But there are plenty of folks who experienced fishing all over, including the Ala Wai Canal back in the days when it was much less polluted.

This morning, I came across a great blog at Kaulapi World about one man's childhood memories of fishing at the Ala Wai with his father. It's been only one generation since the cementing of the Ala Wai Watershed, but practically all has been lost in such a short period of time. Gone are the taro fields, duck ponds — the breadbasket of Oahu just a century ago — leaving us with remnants of what used to be.

My memories of fishing there are limited to occasional crabbing with Pack 333 (Cub Scouts) and watching the occasional fisherman hook up along the water, usually near McCully bridge. The crabbing was more exciting, of course, thanks to the humongous Samoan crabs. I don't know if the crabs were really from Samoa. They had big old pinchers, though, and they loved going after those aku heads everybody used as bait.

Tossing the crab nets, a circular metal frame holding a weave of rope similar to a basketball net, was probably the most fun for me. Not that I was good at it. But even back then, in the mid-1970s, I was aware of the toxins and poisons in the waters. A summer science class at UH, one for fifth graders, was all I needed. Will Kyselka led us on a tour up the Ala Wai and up Manoa-Palolo Stream, taking samples of the water along the way. All of the water was later measured for lead content. It wasn't a happy result, but it wasn't entirely shocking, either.

One day, probably, the entire watershed will be restored by Mother Nature. We probably won't be around to see foliage and vegetation run amok around and through all our man-made structures. Until then, all there is within the area are obnoxious motorists blasting their engines and all the dysfunctional symptoms that come with an overpopulated place. 

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