“My time, fish was plentiful, today it’s not; they had overcatch some of the fish,” he said.
It’s OK, though. Just by being at the edge of the water was an accomplishment for Uncle Charlie — it had been two years since he had thrown net. “My legs are slowing me down,” he says. That day, however, he threw net twice, and both times he managed to do it perfectly.
Uncle Charlie has been making throw nets since he was 12 years old. He has sold his nets to fishermen on eight Hawaiian Islands, including Ni‘ihau. Millionaires have bought his nets just to hang it on their walls as a work of art. His story has been featured in many books about the island, newspapers, fishing magazines and even in songs.
Back in 2009, he and his wife, Loke, were nominated Garden Island Living Treasures by the Kaua‘i Museum. That night, he counted 62 nets he had made since his first one. Three days after the museum’s tribute, his wife of 53 years passed away. Since then, he picked up the pace, and estimates he is close to 100 nets. Not an easy feat considering the time it takes to craft an 11-foot-wide throw net.