Nuuanu Reservoir No.4, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 16, 2009
It was like going to a funeral of a good friend. Catfish fishing at the Nuuanu reservoir, an event I've enjoyed since I was in high school, was about to end.

It all came down to money and two events led to the decision to
end public fishing at the reservoir. First, a state budget shortfall forced the closing of Anuenue Fisheries Research Center, the main hatchery that supplied catfish to Nuuanu and rainbow trout to anglers in Kokee, Kauai. Then the city Board of Water Supply needed to repair the reservoir's lower drain gate. The state was asked to take over the reservoir but with no money available, the state took a pass on the offer so the city decided to lower the water level from 26 feet to 10 feet for maintenance of the gate and not refill the reservoir once the work is complete. These events effectively ended fishing at Nuuanu Reservoir Number 4.
The Nuuanu reservoir is located along the Pali Highway just out side the city of Honolulu. Shortly after the end of World War II the government began introducing freshwater game fish in waters throughout the then territory of Hawaii. The Nuuanu Reservoir Number 4 was used as a fish refuge and research site for these introduced fish. The species introduced into island waters was the Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and the first recorded catfish fishing session was on July 5 and 6, 1969, when 96 anglers caught 339 catfish.
To fish at the reservoir you needed a Hawaii freshwater fishing license and an entry card that was filled out well before the fishing season opened. This card was put into a lottery system that told you the date and time of your fishing session at the reservoir. All anglers who submitted a card were accommodated.
The average size of the catfish in Nuuanu are 10-pounds or less. However some monster cats were pulled in and the official state record is a 43-pound 13-ounce fish that was taken from Lake Wilson in Wahiawa.
SteveL, his wife and several friends, their families and I arrived early to make sure we got close enough to the head of the line to stake out our usual fishing area. As soon as the natural resources officials cleared our permits SteveL and I grabbed the fishing gear and raced through the tall grass to a point of land at the far end of the reservoir that was directly across from the fish feeders. We quickly pounded in our sand spikes and had the rods set up for casting. And these were not your standard casting rods. They were heavy duty Shimano telescoping rods 11 to 14-feet long (these models are not available in the USA) that can toss a large chunk of lead and bait way into tomorrow.nuuanu05
The other folks in our party caught up with us just as we were about to begin casting. I would move down the line baiting the hooks with a horrendously smelly bait that consisted of three year-old fermented chunks of fish. It smelled godawful and I was careful not to get any of it on my clothing or else I'd be forced to burn it. After baiting the circle hooks I would give SteveL the all-clear sign and he'd haul back and throw the rig towards the fish feeders. After that all there was to do was sit back and wait for a bite. And we didn't have to wait long.
There were lots of kids with us and also folks who had never caught a fish before so whenever a rod began to dance, we put someone on it and told them what to do to get the fish to shore. There were lots of laughs, lots of screams and lots of good fun. We quickly began to fill the stringer with large catfish.
Some of the younger anglers were new to fishing and had bought a rod just for this catfish session. One of the youngest had spent the day baiting his own hook and casting his own line. Mistakes were made but he learned fast.
Minutes before fishing was to end for the day he made a cast that fell just outside the weed line near an island opposite the point we were fishing from. It looked like a good spot so we told him to let it soak. Then he had a strike and from the bend on his rod we could tell it was a big fish. Everyone was yelling and screaming then when the fish rolled on the surface the decibel level went way up. It was huge. The anxiety level rose. Play the fish carefully. Don't over stress the line. Keep the rod tip up.
As the fish neared the shore the horn blew to end fishing for the day but the fish was soon netted and on shore. This was the biggest fish of the day caught by the youngest angler who did it his way. This was a great ending to my final fishing session at Nuuanu Reservoir Number 4.