Your Subtitle text
"Ho`okahi Pu`uwai
(with one heart)

Fishing on Kaua`i - Ni`ihau & Ka`ula Rock:



Al, Jeanne & Rachael - Honokahau Harbor 1986 - 13 Ahi (more on other side)

A Sampan Catamaran . . . one of kind

For years, my wife, Jeanne, and I sailed and fished the waters off of Kaua`i, Ni`ihau and Ka`ula Rock. We mostly fished in very rough conditions, because the ocean surrounding most of Kaua`i is very rough. We first fished with a Boston Whaler and then, a 35’ Radon, both monohulls. Monohulls, especially at anchor, have a very hard “snap roll”. Monohulls can be very uncomfortable and challenging, at times, especially when going to weather or into the seas. I had made several channel crossings in monohulls. Up until Hokule`a, it was not one of my favorite things to do. Jeanne, especially, didn’t care for it.

After sailing on the Hokule`a, we both decided that we were going to build a boat. We would build a large catamaran. Jeanne and I flew to Honolulu to see Hisao Murakami. Murakami was a Japanese boat builder who learned his trade, as a young man, with one of the best sampan builders in Hawai`i, Funai.

Murakami boats are legend in Hawai`i. He built the first Aikane for Rudy Choy. The Aikane held the Los Angeles to Honolulu and Los Angeles to Tahiti records for decades. The Aikane is still sailing, in Maui, taking out tourists. All of the big catamarans that were built for Henry J. Kaiser and the Hawaiian Village Hotel were built by Murakami and are still sailing.

Originally, Murakami was going to build a traditional 40’ sampan for me and Jeanne. After the Hokule`a, we told Hisao that we wanted a 40’ catamaran. After a few discussions, we decided to build a 40’ fishing catamaran motorsailer with true sampan hulls. It was an amazing and very original idea . . . would it work?

Jeanne and I flew to O`ahu in 1982 and began working with Hisao and his son, Keith, on our dream, our 40' fishing catamaran. Keaouhikane`alei (the wreath of misty dawn) was my daughter Rachael’s and my mother’s Hawaiian name. The catamaran was named after them. We launched Keaouhi in October, 1984. Rachael was born in July, 1984. The 3 of us moved aboard.

Crossing The Channels . . .

When the ahi schools arrive in the islands from the North Pacific, they first show up on Kaua`i around March and April. In March we would sail Keaouhi, downwind, to Kaua`i. Jeanne and Rachael and, later Anela, would get off the boat and stay with friends onshore. Because the Kaua`i waters were so rough, I fished alone.

Usually, by May, the ahi arrived in Kona. The first time, we all sailed Keaouhi to Kona, by way of Moloka`i, Lana`i and Mau`i. We took our time spending several days on each island. Keaouhi handled the Moloka`i and Alenuihaha Channels magnificently. Murakami knew what he was doing! It sure was nice when we entered the lee of the Big Island and the tranquil waters of Kona. We would fish in Kona until November. Then, we would all sail, downwind, to O`ahu, with a stop in Hana to visit friends. We would spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with Jeanne’s and my family on O`ahu. Then, we'd dry dock in February and start all over again.

Fishing In Kona and Kaua`i . . .

When we first got to Kona, we were pretty new at ahi fishing, " Big Island" style. However, it didn’t take long for us “rookies” to be adopted by some of the local fisherman: Kerwin “Maguro” Masunaga, Jack Ross, The Leslie family, Ralph & "Ralphie" Takafuji, Bunny Kahanamoku, Freddie Rice, Jack Prettyman, Joe Marks, George, Randy & Marlin Parker, Jerome & Keoni Judd, John Spencer, Sueto and several others.

They saw that we were struggling, so they taught us how to catch opelu, make “float lines” and, most of all, told us at what depth they and the rest of the “commercial” ahi fisherman were fishing and holding the ahi at. First thing, every morning, one of them would radio us and tell us where the ahi were biting and we would head there. As we approached the FAD or ahi koa, they would show us the depth: 2 fingers = 20 fathoms, 3 = 30 fathoms, etc. Without this knowledge, you would have a hard time catching any ahi.

The following year, when I was fishing on Kaua`i, I used all that I had learned in Kona. I caught more ahi by myself than the other boats who had 2 or 3 guys onboard. My “secret” was the live opelu that I was using. All the years that I fished on Kaua`i, we had all used akule for bait. We were told by the “old timers” that there was no opelu on Kaua`i, only akule. We had been fishing at the wrong depth, 40 fathoms. The opelu were at 60 fathoms.

My first night back on Kaua`i, I went out to the 60 fathom ledge outside of Kukui`ula Harbor in Po`ipu. When I turned on my underwater light, I couldn't believe how much opelu there was. The huge ball completely filled the cone of light and the dark water on the outside. Within in minutes, I filled up my live bait tank. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. In fact, several of my friends teased me, saying that I was out “too deep”.

Everyday at the buoy, outside of Po`ipu, I kept catching more ahi than the rest of the boats. Of course, I was the only one using live opelu. The rest of the Kaua`i fisherman just assumed that I had learned some "secrets" in Kona. I kept my “opelu secret” to myself for about 3 weeks. When I, finally, got a call from Kona that the ahi had arrived, I went our for my last day of fishing on Kaua`i, before I left for Kona.

When I had about 10 to 12, 150lb. to 200 lb., ahi in the boat, I told several friends, over the CB, that I was done and was sailing to
Honolulu with my fish. As I was ready to leave, Darryl Horner (an old friend and one of the top ahi fisherman on Kaua`i) pulled up to Keaouhi. “What’s your secret”, he asked. I still had about a dozen live opelu in my bait tank. I scooped them out and handed the still live opelu to Darryl. He stared dumbfounded. “Where did you get the opelu?” he asked. “60 fathoms outside of Kukui` ula Harbor”, I answered. Unfurling the sails, I turned Keaouhi towards O`ahu and headed for the Auction Block in Kewalo Basin. Whenever I think about that time, I chuckle . . .  no opelu on Kaua`i, what a joke!

The “Green Stick” . . .

There was one thing that I learned while I was on Kaua`i. Dennis Eguchi, a fisherman from Kekaha, was using a new way of ahi fishing, the “Green Stick”. Dennis used 600 lb. test line on his “Green Stick” (a long fiberglass pole). That line trailed back to a “bird” which was a 2x6 about 6 feet long, with 3 1x2 “wings” about 2 feet long positioned equally along it's length. This “bird” kept the line taut, so that the 4 “baits” hanging from this line, would dangle and skip across the water.

Dennis used a hydraulic reel to haul in the line after an ahi had taken one of the baits. Often, you’d get multiple hits. The trick was to go slow, so that the ahi would hit slow. As soon as the ahi was hooked, Dennis throttled the boat back, but still kept moving forward and started hauling in the line with the hydraulic reel. Since the ahi couldn’t turn its head, it couldn’t dive and came right to the boat. Dennis hauled the ahi aboard, then continued on, letting the line back out, again. Doing it this way, you remained in the ahi school and was able to repeat this over and over again.

When I arrived in Kona, I had a “black stick”, the heavy commercial grade pole, and a hydraulic reel like Dennis Eguchi’s. While in
Honolulu, I bought the stick, 600 lb. test line, baits, hooks, hydraulic reel, made my own bird and painted it red.

Jeanne and Rachael would fly to Kona, this time. I set sail for Kona, alone, from Kewalo at about 0300, By the time I got to Kaho`olawe, it was getting dark. As I headed out into the Alenuihaha Channel, I turned on my radar and the running lights. With the audible alarm on the radar set, I went to sleep, waking occasionally to check the radar.

By morning, I was in the lee of the Big Island and took a course for Keauhou, where I was to meet Jeanne and Rachael. On the way, I passed the FAD outside of Honokahau. There were several boats there. It seemed that the ahi was not biting because the boats were in several clusters and the guys were “talking story”. So I decided to put out the “bird” and test my brand new stick and gear for the first time. Slowly, as I came upon the buoy, I waved to several friends who began gesturing that the ahi were not biting.

As I was standing on the starboard side, one of my friends started gesturing wildly; I didn’t know what he was trying to say, he kept pointing to the back of Keaouhi. When I finally looked back my line was in the water, I had an ahi on. I throttled back, turned on the reel and started hauling the line in . . . there were two ahi on the line. After boating the fish, I turned around for another pass. In the next hour, I caught six . . . I could’ve caught more but the steel ring at the top of my stick came off after a large ahi pulled it off. Wow, what a way to start the season!

Several days later, Jeanne, Rachael and I went out to the 60 fathom ledge, outside of Keauhou Harbor, caught some opelu and headed out for “C” buoy, the FAD outside of Ho`okena. We went up current, set the parachute, turned on our underwater light to try and catch ahi “ika shibi” style. No Luck . . . when we woke at sunrise, we were about 5 miles south of the buoy.

We motored north, set out the "bird" and got the “float lines” ready. I would set them at 10 fathoms because we were the first ones there. I motored up current of the buoy, threw out 4 “float lines” with live opelu and turned around, dragging the bird behind me. We did that all day long and ended up with several mahimahi and ono (we caught them first thing in the morning) and 10 ahi that we caught, the rest of the day, using “float lines with live opelu” and the “Bird”.

Another Magical Moment . . .

As the sun went down, we motored south for about 10 miles, turned off the motors, set the parachute and turned on our anchor light. It was so quiet. The only sound was that of the cattle from one of the ranches above Ho`okena. There was a small moon, and the stars blanketed the night sky.

As I sat on the stern looking forward, I could see Jeanne making dinner and Rachael sitting on the bed watching TV. Gabby Pahinui was playing on the stereo. It was a great end to a beautiful day . . .

As I sat there and the evening grew darker, all of a sudden, several porpoises started diving under and around the boat. They left trails of phosphorous as they dove beneath and around Keaouhi. I turned off the deck lights and was in complete darkness on the aft deck. The ocean was so still that the stars and their reflections made it seem that we were floating in space, you could not discern where the horizon was, it was only a continuum of stars and their reflections. The phosphorescent meteor-like trails that the porpoises were leaving as they dove and surfaced only added to the illusion.

Jeanne brought our dinner out and we sat on the aft deck, amazed at how beautiful and surreal the scene had become. We finished our dinner and went inside the cabin and put Rachael to bed. We turned off all the lights and came back outside. We sat there, listening to Hawaiian music, having a couple of cold ones and just enjoying that extraordinary moment.

The Largest School of Ahi  . . .

There was one particular day, fishing for ahi in Kona, that I will always remember. It was about 0600 and Kerwin Masunaga (Maguro), his 35' Radon, Holly Ann and Keaouhi were leaving Keauhou Harbor for another day of fishing. As we were going out, we could see several boats that looked like they were working a school of ahi. As we did everyday, we radioed on a specific CB channel that we were leaving Keauhou and it looked like there was an ahi school about a 1/2 mile outside of Keauhou.

Bunny Kahanamoku replied that he was down south, in Miloli`i with a huge school of ahi, moving north, and had boated several already. Next, Freddie Rice called and said that he was on the "Grounds", north of Kailua and he, too, was in a huge school of ahi that was heading South. Kerwin and I responded that we were also in a large school that was heading south and were just putting out our "birds".

Well, Kerwin and I fished that school for the rest of the day. When the school got outside of Kealakekua, it started to head West, so we followed. Shortly after that we could see Bunny coming from the south and Freddie coming from the north. Their schools, also started heading into the now setting sun.

Imagine, ahi rolling and jumping for as far as your eyes could see. Three different schools, combining into one and heading out to sea. It was a sight that all who were fishing that day said that they had never seen before. My fish boxes were full, so I headed back to Keauhou. Kerwin, Bunny, Freddy and several others kept following the school.

That night we all went opelu fishing to get ready for the next day. Early in the morning, a lot of boats started heading out, looking for the ahi school. We looked all day - the school had left . . . We all came back to the harbor and talked about that previous day. No ahi were to be found that day and the days that followed . . . that huge ahi school had left!

Memories to Last a Lifetime . . .

Living and fishing aboard Keaouhi was one of the greatest times of our lives . . . we experienced moments that were unimaginable. It certainly was my dream come true . . . to discover
Hawai`i by sea and do the one thing that I loved most, fishing for ahi. All this and being able to have my family with me, too.

Keaouhi is still in Kona and seaworthy after all these years. Mr. Murakami knew how to build boats to last. Keaouhi is only one of several boats that he built that are still sailing Hawaiian waters. There are not many boat builders that can make this claim.


40' X 20' Fishing Catamaran
True Sampan Hulls
Hull: Douglas Fir Planked Sheathed In Epoxy

Frames: Douglas Fir & Marine Ply
Deck/Cabin: Marine Ply Sheathed in Epoxy
Cutter Rigged Motorsailer - Roller Furling Main & Headsails
Twin Yanmar Diesels - 90 HP Each
500 Mile Range
4 Fishboxes - 10,000 lb. Capacity
25 Mile Furuno Radar
Raytheon Loran C & Sat Nav
Motorola CB & VHF Radios
TV & Stereo System
Furuno Fish Finder
Auto Pilot
Black Stick (commercial grade "green stick")
Hydraulic Line Reel & Pinch Pullers




NEW "Fishing Machine"

Hobie Mirage Adventure Island

YOUR VERY OWN VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Be Safe From Hackers & Predators On The Net!
Only $3.99/Month For Up To 6 Devices!


Click Here to eMail me! Mahalo, Al . . .

Website Builder