Issue 20.5: October/November 2017
Native Intelligence: O‘ahu

Tackle and Talk Story

Story by Rae Sojot. Photos by Ryan T Foley.

Like many raised in Waialua, on O‘ahu’s rural North Shore, husband and wife Shane and Athena Fujinaga spent their childhoods outdoors, hunting in the mountains and fishing and diving in the ocean. “My family would spend weeks camping at the beach,” says Shane. “Fish, hunt, eat, sleep—then fish some more.” Two years ago Shane, Athena and partner Luis “Lui” Rivera started North Shore Sporting Goods, a hole-in-the-wall shop (a vinyl banner serves as signage) to perpetuate that lifestyle.

In the two years since opening, North Shore Sporting Goods has become a go-to spot for hunting, fishing and diving gear. Young families seek out scoop nets and tabis for tide-pooling, surf casters sift through rows of coffee cans filled with lead weights and hunters admire the latest rifle cases. Former high school classmates buy three-prong spears for their own kids, and old salts on their way to Hale‘iwa Harbor stock up on neon-colored fishing lures. If it’s diving season, better come early for tako (octopus) bait—it goes fast.

But the shop is as much about community as commerce, Lui says. “People will come in and not buy anything. They stop by just to talk story. That’s what this place is really about.” Neighborhood kids pull up on bikes, waving their report cards (they get a discount for improved grades). One youth became so enamored with fishing that Shane helped him outfit his bike to carry four reels, gear and a catch bag. “He rides from Mokulē‘ia to Turtle Bay on the weekends, fishing all day,” Shane says. Once a visitor from Maryland, impressed by locals he’d seen shore fishing, was disappointed to learn the shop didn’t rent gear. “He had saved up his money to vacation in Hawai‘i,” Lui says, “and just couldn’t afford brand-new gear.” So Lui rushed home and grabbed his own pole and tackle box. “‘Just bring it back tomorrow,’ I told him.”

The shop’s sense of community extends well beyond the 7 p.m. closing time. “Customers call us in the middle of the night about a massive fish or large boar they just caught, asking if they can weigh it on our scale,” Athena says. Shane jumps out of bed to come down and meet them. “He’s as excited as they are.”