Honolulu Star Bulletin 05/17/03
By Ray Pendleton
Whether fishing in Hawai`i is your passion or just a flirtation, there is a recently published paperback you really have to read.
It's called the Kona Fishing Chronicles 2002 by Jim Rizzuto and it is loaded with the kinds of anecdotes and wisdom that are only known by those who spend extraordinary amounts of time chasing fish and talking story with those who do.
The book's award-winning author has certainly done both, and perhaps more importantly, has the ability to write about them in a style nearly all of us can enjoy.
Rizzuto has authored numerous other books on this subject over the last 40 years. This book is the latest in a series that provides yearly compilations of his weekly Big Island newspaper column.
The book's chapters are divided into the months of the year and each lists the biggest fish, by species, caught in the waters off West Hawai`i as the year progressed.
With these catch results, Rizzuto then points out seasonal differences in the numbers and size of the various fish weighed in along the Kona Coast.
"Sometimes the ahi run arrives as early as May," he noted in the chapter for July. "This year, a few tuna showed up on time but the rest have straggled in on their own schedule."
Possibly two of those stragglers -- both 212.5-pounders --not only tied for the biggest ahi caught in 2002, but were bigger than any tuna boated in 2001.
Of course, his chronicles would be pretty bland reading if they were filled with nothing but statistics. So Rizzuto spices them up with an abundance of other fish-related data and narratives.
Have you ever wondered about the sensitivity of a marlin's bill? Rizzuto gives readers the following experiment as an answer.
"Hold (a) pencil by one end with your thumb and index finger," he instructs. "With your eyes closed, have (someone else) touch the pencil ... and then touch it again in a different place and in a different way.
"The pencil is completely lifeless with no nervous system, but you can still tell what is happening to it. Even if the (marlin's) bill were as lifeless as the pencil ... the marlin knows what is happening to it at all times in the same way you could tell what your pencil was feeling."
Or, instead of fish physiology, how about learning Rizzuto's favorite way to prepare opakapaka. Cube a snapper fillet, marinate it in a mixture of lemon juice, coconut milk, onions, chili peppers, celery and tomatoes, and then serve it cold.
As Rizzuto points out, it's "cooking" fish with lemon juice in a syle the French call poisson cru.
One of my personal favorite tidbits of information came in a piece about one of Hawaii's most popular food fish: opah.
"The moonfish was probably unknown to the ancient Hawaiians," Rizzuto says, "thus the absence of a Hawaiian name. It is served here as 'opah' ... but the name has origins in West Africa, despite what your waiter tells you about its big belly." (Opah is similar to "opu," the Hawaiian word for belly.)
The Kona Fishing Chronicles 2002 should be available in most book stores, but you can also order a copy online at http://www.JimRizzuto.com or write to him at P.O. Box 635, Kamuela, HI 96743.
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