Touching Base: Kekoa Nakasone ’16

Hooked on Fishing

Checking in with Punahou’s young alumni

After heading to the University of Oregon, Kekoa Nakasone ’16 endured a bad bout of homesickness during his freshman year. Like many recent grads, he missed Hawai‘i, his mom’s cooking, the ocean.

Fishing, he says, helped him combat the blues and connect with his new surroundings. Now a college senior majoring in political science, Nakasone heads out to fish two to three times a week, catching trout at Oregon lakes or crabbing and clamming, then preparing meals with what he’s reeled in. “For me, it’s really relaxing; It’s how I center myself when I’m in school,” he says. “It’s also created a social circle for me. I meet these crazy, crotchety old men who know me just as the kid from Hawai‘i who likes to fish. We talk about politics and sports. They’re my friends.”

Even while interning this past summer for U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono in Washington, D.C., Nakasone made his way to the Tidal Basin, a partially man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel, to fly fish. It’s been a good way to remind him of home. 

Nakasone learned to fish as a young boy from a close family friend – his hānai grandfather. He started out using a bamboo pole, then over time, began fly fishing, using a conventional spinning rod and spear fishing.

His bounty allows him to eat fresh seafood two or three times a week. His mother, Colleen Maeda ’85 Bird – an excellent cook – inspired him to improvise on recipes. He now makes a mean misoyaki trout, a take on the traditional Japanese misoyaki butterfish. He also hosts a surf-and-turf night every other week during crabbing seasons, preparing feasts for friends. 

Nakasone’s passion, however, isn’t rooted in a desire to indulge in fish. It’s more of a meditative process that allows him to connect with the ocean, or any body of water, for that matter. “I’m not fishing to survive; I’m fishing to relax,” he says. “I actually release about 75% of the fish I catch.” 

So what does it take to be a good fisherman?

Nakasone pauses and offers just one thought: “Patience,” he says.

– Diane Seo ’85

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