Sets Tomita, who shares some of his childhood memories in the documentary “The Manzanar Fishing Club,” was a featured guest at the recent Bart Hall Outdoor Sports Show. He is pictured with a typical fishing pole that was crafted at Manzanar from willow trees on the way to streams and creeks outside the camp. (Photo courtesy Cory Shiozaki)

By NJ NAKAMURA, Special to The Rafu

Most kids enjoy trout fishing and Sets Tomita was just like any other kid. As an 11-year-old, confined behind the barbed wire fencing at the Manzanar concentration camp, Sets and his two brothers, Mas and Makio, would fish at Bears Creek.

Bears Creek was located inside the camp, and it was far enough away from the guard towers that the soldiers couldn’t see them. They would sneak out at night to go to their favorite fishing spots along the creek and they were sworn to secrecy by big brother Makio.

During the week, they would dig for earthworms to use as bait. All of the worms were stored in an old tin can. Sets remembered that other kids used rice balls as bait.

While walking to the creek, they would find and cut long, straight willow branches. After stripping off the bark, they would tie on a 10-to-12-foot leader line. Then, Makio would tie on a swivel and a hook.

The swivels and hooks were purchased by Makio in the nearby towns of Independence and Lone Pine. As a trusted driver for the camp management, Makio was allowed to drive into town to deliver legal papers to the post office. While in Lone Pine, he would go to the Pioneer Market to buy this and that.

Sets and Mas only went fishing when big brother Makio wanted to go. Sadly, after Makio developed a fondness for girls, their fishing trips stopped.

Sets still has so many good fishing stories to share and most of those stories are in the documentary “The Manzanar Fishing Club.” When the Bart Hall Outdoor Sports Show was held in Long Beach on March 29 to April 2, Sets was invited to make a guest appearance. The booth for “The Manzanar Fishing Club” displayed a sign that read, “Appearing today, Sets Tomita, a Manzanar internee fisherman.” The sign, as well as the documentary, were made by Cory Shiozaki.

If you have the original DVD of that movie, hold on to it. Cory said, “It will become a collector’s item.” The DVD format has been discontinued because it is now more common to view the movie through “streaming.” The ability to download by scanning a QR (Quick Response) code and then streaming the movie will be available soon.

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