The second episode of Discovery’s Pacific Warriors brings veteran Oahu kayak fisherman Isaac Brumaghim into focus and of course includes footage from the Chompy the Shark video that was first brought to prominence by KayakFishMag.com and then went viral on GrindTV with more than 15 million views.
With the latest version of the newest fishing reality show placing an emphasis on localism of the “this is my fishing spot, go away” variety, it was perhaps not by coincidence that Isaac had another run-in with a true local. Despite his best efforts to stop a kawakawa and bring it to the boat, a Galapagos shark got to the tuna first. No aerial attack this time — the cameras catch the shark eating the fish in the deep blue off Oahu.
As for the shoreline and on the water territorialism depicted on the latest Pacific Warriors, while the island kingdom was united by the Big Island’s King Kamehameha warriors in the late 1700s, there remains a tightly knit social structure revolving around Hawaii’s ocean resource. It all comes down to where you are from and whether you have earned the right to be where you are, whether you are fishing or surfing. The word is respect.
In his feature on the Aquahunters in Kayak Fish Magazine, Paul Lebowitz describes a scene at Isaac Brumaghin’s when the issue of localism comes up:
“Just like surfing, you have to earn your place in the lineup,” Isaac had said the night I arrived at his home in the Kapolei area. The house was alive with domestic sounds—kids home after a busy school day, his wife Juanita, a skilled canoe paddler, lovingly chasing after energetic little Pancho, not yet two, as he tried to scale the kitchen counter. A happy place. Once the kids were in bed, we retreated to Isaac’s back yard to talk.
“There was a time I was the new guy. You just stay humble and you give,” Isaac said, trying to impart Hawaiian values to a visitor from off-island. Not only do you need to earn your place in the lineup, you have to earn your place in society. You can’t just show up somewhere and expect a welcome. That doesn’t just apply to tourists; it is true for locals like Isaac too.
Earning his spot at this remote Oahu beach (Yoke’s) and offshore among the fishermen who hunt tuna, ono, mahi and other blue water pelagics took more than skill and muscle. It took time and a steady demonstration of respect, for the people and the place.
“I’m not from this part of Oahu,” Isaac says. “I took care of the lifeguards every single day, with fish when I had extra. There weren’t kayak anglers around. I had to show them I knew what I was doing, that I wouldn’t get into trouble, that I would do things the right way.
“Yoke’s is the last place you end up, not where you start out.”