Tai Chi Aloha Around the World: Ken on Christmas Island, Kiritimati
Click on the play arrow below to view the once in a life time experience, a very special fishing trip Ken took with his Iolani classmate of 67 years.
Ken and a friend recently returned from a fishing adventure trip to Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean just a 3 hour airplane ride to the South from Honolulu. Quite poor and undeveloped with living conditions nearly the level of a 4th world country with sanitation being a challenge for even us who were used to old time Hawaiian country beach homes. The existing infrastructure of the place is pretty basic with unpaved coral gravel roads left over from the '50s by the British when they were doing atomic testing, thatched and tin roofed wooden small huts with some hollow tile walled ones and rainwater collection for potable water. But in this modern age, thank goodness, bottled water is available at a price. Shops are housed in tin lined walls and tin roof warehouse-like buildings and without display windows. A very rustic scene with no evidence of an unenforced anti-litter law.
But, our main mission was to catch fish and enjoy ourselves doing it and that we did. Our wish was our guide's command and we did a range of fishing including trolling for papio (small trevally) and ulua ( large trevally) with many lai (leatherback/queen fish) on the side, spin fly and spin casting with bait for oio (bonefish), lai and the occasional small papio. We even tried to lure a huge ulua (probably 50-75 lb) who came cruising around a few feet from us in waist deep water as the guide chummed the water with bait. He didn't bite but is was something to have one come so close and not be spooked. I also took the opportunity to observe and document on video how to locate and capture mantis shrimps which are a delicacy of the place and in the Far East where I have seen it in Chinese restaurants. My father had told me years ago about them being readily available in Hawaii in his youth.
We trolled outside the lagoon for tuna and large papio and ulua. We managed among other fish on the first day a 15lb ahi (yellow fin tuna), lots of bottom fish, a number of papio and to top it off we had twin strikes of almost 20 lb uluas (biggest I have ever caught). Second day trolling at sea was a banner day seeing huge flocks of birds feeding with aku, or tuna, over a large expanse of the sea where baitfish had come to the surface. We managed to get 26 aku (skipjack tuna) and quit so we could go bottom fishing (caught over 30 on last day) but otherwise could have kept going. Bottom fishing on both days netted numerous reef fishes of good quality with groupers and snappers, but the best for me was the very large moano (goatfish) over 1 lb. I had brought some ginger, green onions and garlic so I cooked these Chinese style with soyu and hot oil topping and we had a feast after each day of ocean fishing. All ulua/papio and oio are catch and release for conservation and to maintain the fishery which a significant source of income to the island, attracting fly fisherman from around the world. Other fish can be harvested. On one of the photos you see a ocean trolling/bottom fishing day's result. Less you think we are pillaging the sea I assure you that most of the fish went to the guide and boat captain to feed their families and friends since there is not much meat other than a few chickens and pigs and what they can get shipped into such a poor country. Not everyone has access to boats and can benefit from those who do and catch ocean fish to supplement the more available lagoon fish.
We arrived home intact on April 11, after recrossing the international dateline, weary but very satisfied having achieved our objective. It was part of a bucket list in my view.
Catching their own moano which were huge compared to what they can catch here in Hawaii was not only a great experience but gave Ken a great opportunity to cook on two different occasions. Ken and Dick had a feast of a dinner! The ginger and green onions were from Ken's garden and with hot garlic shoyu oil sauce, all was perfect for the 5 biggest moano they caught during the 7 days on Kiritimati.