Beneath the Surface: Talking Story with Gerald Yoro

Catching the mighty ulua (giant trevally) in Hawai‘i remains a sought-after endeavor among local fishermen. There are annual competitions, and fishermen cast—whether by shore or in boats—every day to catch one. Others, like Hawai‘i Island’s Gerald Yoro, do it the harder, more traditional way: by throwing net. A technique requiring nimble steps, throwing net to catch an ulua also implements the element of surprise and a profound connection to the coastline. As hard as this method may be, Yoro still fishes sustainably, throwing back younger, smaller fish with the hope that one day they’ll become what he—or his own daughter—might be looking for.

How important is fishing to people in Hawai‘i?

It’s kind of a lifestyle for me; I grew up around all of that. It’s just a big part of our lives and connects us with the ocean, and it’s also a way for me to get away from stress. I go out on the rocks, walk with my net and have that time alone. It’s just me, looking for the fish and enjoying my walk along on the coastline.

 

What’s your favorite type of fishing?

Probably throw net, so usually, when I go ulua fishing I’ll do it that way.

 

What do you do normally do with the catch?

I feed my family first, and if I have extra, I'll give it away to friends and family. That’s a big thing to me—knowing where your food is coming from. Especially with the high prices of food nowadays, it’s a more reliable way to provide food for your family.

 

Absolutely. So, what do you love about the technique of throwing net?

To me, it’s almost like being a ninja on the rocks, you know? You’re hiding from the fish and then you creep up and surprise them with the net. Usually, you try to not get seen by try hiding behind the rocks and getting low, almost in a squat-like stance. You pretty much stay as low as you can until you get up to where you want to throw ‘em. Sometimes you have to watch the waves; the whitewater can cover your shadow, so you’ll need to wait for the wave to come and then you throw the net on them.

 

Amazing. Have you taught this technique to others?

Definitely. I have a daughter and she loves to fish, as do my friends and family, so I try to pass it on to whoever wants to fish with me. My daughter is 6-years-old and it’s important for her to learn because she’s part of that younger generation, and I hope that in the future, she can pass it on to her kids. It’s all part of our heritage, because that was once how people survived—off of fish. Teaching her to fish has been a blessing to me, and I usually get more excited when she catches a fish than when I do, you know? She’s pretty fun to go with.

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