Sometime in the mid-80s, perhaps '84 or '85, on a Club inflatable-kayak trip to North Molokai, one enterprising member brought a store-bought "trolling rig" comprising a hundred feet of 80#-test line and a bungee cord, and dragged it behind his boat with a shiny Kastmaster lure as we drifted down the coast. Lo and behold, we had fresh papio for dinner that night! Who would have thought? By the end of the summer, everybody had a trolling rig in their boat, and, at least in Hawaii, the sport of kayak-fishing was born. Within a year, of course, local shore-based fishermen were accusing us of depleting fish stocks...(sigh...).
Those $10 wooden looms soon gave way to $90 graphite rods with hi-tech Level-Wind reels, the Kastmaster lost out to Yo-zuri and Rapala and later, with the introduction of open-top plastic yaks like the Scupper and the Expedition that took us out into deeper water, and the rising use of fresh bait like 'oama and opelu, and the lowly papio was replaced by awa'awa, ono and mahimahi. There have been reports of Black marlin as well as Great Whites being caught by kayaks, and on the Big Island, the term "Polynesian Sleigh Ride" has been coined to describe what happens when a 70-pound kayak hooks up to a 200-pound Pacific blue marlin or other large pelagic fish.
It would be fun to say that Hui Wa'a Kaukahi invented the sport of kayak fishing, but actually, I suppose that distinction would have to go to the eskimos. Whoever started it, the sport has enjoyed phenomenal growth in the last 10 years, mirroring the incredible explosion of popularity that kayaking itself witnessed in the 90s. Tim Nemier redesigned Ocean Kayak's™ flagship Scupper Pro to accomodate the growing demand of scuba fishermen, and Wilderness Systems™ went even further to incorporate rod holders and bait boxes in their designs. Today, a simple Google search for "kayak fishing" will return dozens of websites, some quite large, dedicated to the sport. (Check our Links page for some recommendations). Hui Wa'a now has two annual fishing contests and a year-long accumulative tournament. And a sister-club here in Hawaii, the Aquahunters, has been formed specifically for the more hardcore, full-time addicts of the genre. Who knows where it will go next - purse-seine kayak trawling?
Not to be left behind in the dust (the wake?), HuiWaa.Org is finally trying to come up with its own section for fishing. As you can tell, it's a work-in-progress, and its final form is yet to be determined. Feel free to email suggestions to us, but even more important, send us your pictures and stories - who knows, you might even get a page of your own!