Nuuanu catfishing likely to get the hook


POSTED: Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ray Kajimura has angled for catfish at Nuuanu Reservoir No. 4 for 20 years—first with his own children, then with those from his church.

Yesterday was the first day of the summer catfishing season at the reservoir, a tradition for many families since 1962.

But the tradition is likely to end this year.

The city Board of Water Supply, which owns the reservoir, says it wants to drain most of the water, which is no longer used to supply Honolulu with drinking water.

“;It's a shame,”; Kajimura, 63, said. “;It's really to see the enjoyment that catfishing gives to the kids.”;

“;For the young ones we have going now, they're going to lose that opportunity to build good memories and just the love to fish with friends,”; he said.

In June, the water board wrote to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources asking the state to take over maintenance of the reservoir or end public access for fishing.

Dean Nakano, deputy director of the Board of Water Supply, said the current water level of 26 feet is unnecessary and costs city taxpayers.

The board pays about $300,000 to $500,000 a year to maintain the reservoir, he said.

On Friday, the city received the state's response that it cannot afford to take over the 1,195-acre property.

The city needs to repair a lower gate on the reservoir, which requires lowering the water level from 26 feet to 10 feet.

The board said it will not refill the reservoir after the work is completed, which will allow for easier and cheaper maintenance, Nakano said.

;  But the lower water level also will make running the fishing program difficult, he said.

Although popular, the program can be eliminated without a public hearing, because the state is not required by law to offer freshwater fishing at the reservoir, said Deborah Ward, the state Land Department spokeswoman.

Nakano said the city will obtain permits to conduct the repair work and drain the reservoir, but he said he didn't think there is a requirement for public hearings.

State budget cutbacks almost prevented this summer's fishing season from happening. State officials adjusted worker scheduled and limited the sessions to one morning session a day to accommodate the 7,200 people who applied for fishing permits this summer.

Last month, the state also eliminated the program that breeds and stocks the catfish for Nuuanu Reservoir.

Some fishing at the reservoir yesterday said that without the freshwater fishing program, they wouldn't fish at all.

“;It's a real shame that they have to close it down,”; said Robert Araki, who doesn't fish with his family elsewhere. “;The kids love it.”;

Without the program, the family would spend less time outdoors, he said.

He, his wife, and three daughters caught at least nine fish yesterday.

“;We tried fishing off the beach,”; he said, “;but there's nothing to catch.”;