Rainbow Trout Fishing On Kaua‘i

Trout Unlimited-Hawaii president Deane Gonzalez with a rainbow trout at Koke‘e State Park. Photo courtesy Deane Gonzalez

Trout Unlimited-Hawaii president Deane Gonzalez with a rainbow trout at Koke‘e State Park. Photo courtesy Deane Gonzalez

Managing our fisheries is critical when it comes to sustainability and ensuring future generations will have fish to catch. But what few may know is Hawaii’s fishery management system extends beyond the Pacific Ocean. For 17 years, a group of dedicated anglers from Hawaii’s freshwater fishing community has been committed to conserving, protecting and restoring trout in Hawaii.

“Yes, we have rainbow trout in Hawaii,” says Wayne Hodges, president of Trout Unlimited-Hawaii. “The trout were introduced in the 1920s in the streams of Koke’e State Park on Kaua’i, and they’re still there today. It’s the only place in Hawaii where trout can survive.”

Trout Unlimited (TU) is a national organization whose mission is managing North America’s cold-water fisheries and their watersheds. TU is made up of 142,000 volunteers in 450 chapters nationwide – including one in Hawaii.

“I helped start Hawaii’s chapter about 17 years ago,” says Deane Gonzalez, who still serves as treasurer of the Waikahe’olu chapter of the nonprofit organization. “I was hiking on Kaua’i with Andy Baker and Dr. Jim DiMarchi, and Dr. DiMarchi said, ‘We don’t have a TU chapter in Hawaii, so why don’t we start one.’ And we did.”

Gonzalez says because trout fishing is limited to only Koke’e, the local chapter, which is made up of about 150 members, takes part in many freshwater fishing community events.

“We’ve worked with a number of different organizations to help address conservation issues,” says Gonzalez. “We’ve cleaned Kaua’i streams by eradicating kahili ginger and other invasive plants, and reintroduced native ones. Part of our goal is to help restore a stream’s normal flow.”

“Last April, we helped clean Nuuanu Stream on Oahu, and we were surprised when we got national recognition in Trout, a quarterly magazine,” says Hodges. “We even received local television coverage and managed to pull a wheelchair out of Queen’s Bath.”

Each year, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources stocks an estimated 15,000 rainbow trout in streams, ditches and reservoirs near Pu’u Lua Reservoir in Koke’e State Park. According to TU-Hawaii, has the biggest trout, some as long as 20 inches. In 2009, 2,691 anglers caught 3,210 trout. The fish that were caught averaged 11.8 inches long and 13.2 ounces.

“Prior to 1992, the state would stock several streams with the trout, but now they stock one reservoir during regulated trout season,” says Gonzalez, who was one of two people who received the 2012 Distinguished Volunteer Award from TU.

Trout fishing is open on Kaua’i from June to September every day from sunrise to sunset. Permits are required for freshwater fishing in Hawaii, and anglers can get them online from the Department of Aquatic Resources. Regular permits are good for one year, and seven-day and 30-day tourist licenses also are available.

Anglers can fish with one pole and line with one baited hook and can take up to seven trout each day. Catch-and-release is the preferred technique, because conditions aren’t favorable for natural reproduction.

“We’re doing our part so others can enjoy trout fishing in Hawaii in the future,” says Hodges.

For more information on the local chapter, go to tuhi.org.

Rally 4 Rainbows Update

Speaking of rainbows, Helemano Elementary School counselor Steve Chinen is moving forward with his grassroots effort to save the Rainbows nickname for University of Hawaii men’s sports. Chinen says he’s received positive feedback from people all across the state.

“I’ve received numerous ‘right-ons’ and other encouraging comments,” says Chinen.

His “Rally 4 Rainbows” is set for Friday, May 3, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Chinen is asking volunteers and anyone else who is interested to meet on the lawn fronting Bachman Hall on the UH-Manoa campus.

“Bring your voices, your signs and your energy,” says Chinen. “But most importantly, bring your love for our Hawaii nei! Imua Rainbow Warriors!”

For more information on the rally, email Chinen at stephenchinen@yahoo.com