Fishing in Hawaii, and 50 Shades of Fish

A few short weeks ago, I went fishing on vacation to Oahu. My Father-in-Law and I booked a charter on the North Shore with Chupu.┬áCaptain Jared Dow took us out and we were treated with this beautiful sunrise. To sidetrack for a minute, I had been thinking earlier in the year about doing a “Species Challenge” for the year, and setting myself a goal of X number of fish to catch. Since this was my first fishing trip of the year, I pulled 50 out of the air for a random goal. There are around 120 some species in Illinois, the greatest majority are in the minnow size range (I’ve never microfished before), so it may prove to be quite the challenge. I’m going to try to complete the challenge without micros, however we’ll see what happens closer to year’s end.


1 - Monday Morning Fishing Charters


2 - First Fish of the Year - Pacific Jack Mackerel
Pacific Jack Mackerel – ┬áTrachurus symmetricus – Angling Species #10 / 2015 Species #1First Fish of the Year! 

It wasn’t long before Jared got us into some bait balls and we started pulling up Pacific Jack Mackerel. We were catching them on home-grown sabiki rigs 3-4 at a time. I hooked a Giant Trevally which put up quite a fight. Once he got the the boat, he had had enough and straightened the hook and swam off. These guys were nice fish for Southern Illinois, but they were pretty small by even bait standards here. We rigged them up by threading a piece of string through their eye tunnel, twisting it and attaching it to the hook. Then, a trailer hook was stuck near the tail for trolling. Wasn’t long until we had our first customer.

Keel-Jawed Needlefish -  Tylosurus acus melanotus - Angling Species #9 / 2015 Species #2
Keel-Jawed Needlefish – Tylosurus acus melanotus – Angling Species #11 / 2015 Species #2

My Father-in-Law and I both got into these Keel-Jawed Needlefish with the Jack Mackerel. They flopped around quite a bit, the guide didn’t really want us unhooking them. I’ve unhooked a coon and coon-dog before, can’t be any worse, right? We started rigging up for the big guns at this point. We really started seeing whales. They were humpbacks. I don’t mean we saw a whale here and a whale over there, there we everywhere. They would come up surprisingly close to the boat and check us out. Every once in a while they’d start breaching in waves. It’s really something to see so many tons of animal launch themselves out of the water like that. We got into some tuna then, and they were MONSTERS.

4 - 3 - Mackeral Tuna
Mackeral Tuna – Euthynnus affinis – Angling Species #12 / 2015 Species #3

You may notice I have a fighting-belt on here. Didn’t really end up needing it for these guys. We caught a fair mess of these guys, and they were DELICIOUS. They also ended up being bait for our southern-Oahu explorations. The weather started calming down and sea legs were working a little better. Then we caught two back to back Mahi. I have been waiting to catch a Mahi forever, don’t really know what my obsession was with them. For whatever reason, they just don’t bite up in Southern Illinois!

Mahi Mahi - Coryphaena hippurus - Angling Species #11 / 2015 Species #4
Mahi Mahi – Coryphaena hippurus – Angling Species #13 / 2015 Species #4
Our Catch
Our Catch

We ended up giving the Bull Mahi and the Jack Mackerel, as well as half the tuna to the captain. We took the rest of the fish home on a 3 hour bus ride where two rednecks tried to figure out how public transportation works in Hawaii. We may or may not have been held up by shaved ice and cheeseburgers… which are a mystery to me. I would probably be considered by most of my friends and family to be just a little obsessed with cheeseburgers and fries. Two of the best cheeseburgers in my life came out of this trip. One was from a little restaurant on the North Shore, which I cannot successfully Google for some reason, and the other came out of Delux Burger – Terminal 4 at Phoenix “Skyharbor” International Airport. I’m trying to come up with vacation plans that will get me back to Phoenix, because I have a new favorite burger. The shaved ice problem was, that Hawaii is known for is Shaved Ice. Maybe I’m a little prejudiced, but I swear my Dad does it better. Here is Hawaii’s score card from various stops:

  1. -5 Pts. for undertempered ice, -10 Pts. for how can you realistically call that flavor Pineapple WE ARE IN HAWAII.
  2. +10 Pts. for awesome pineapple flavor, -10 Pts. because you shaved it too coarse and the flavor just ran through it.
  3. Ice Was OK, Flavor Was OK, But Now I’m just disillusioned with Shaved Ice. Nothing to write home about.

Anyway, Snow King represent.

So, day 2 rolls around and I start sweet-talking my wonderful wife into walking over to the Sports Authority and browsing. Came back with a 7′ South Bend Trophy Stalker for <$20 bucks. It was medium-heavy, strung it up with 8# mono. Bought some adjust-a-bubbles, curly-tails, jig-heads and a giant chartreuse bucktail which got hung up on the first cast. We were going to try what the locals call whipping.

The first time my Father-in-Law and I tried it we went at night, and caught a fair amount of these guys:

Hawaiian Bigeye - Preacanthus meeki  - Angling Species #12 / 2015 Species #5
Hawaiian Bigeye – Preacanthus meeki – Angling Species #14 / 2015 Species #5

They loved curly tails. Especially the Glow-in-the-dark 3″ walleye variety that I borrowed from my daughter’s “Fishie” collection. I replaced them when I got home, you won’t see her without them too much. You just about couldn’t catch anything else at night where we were at, since they are pretty much designed for night-time predation. The camera flash washes out most of their red coloration.

Ko’olina – The Red represents where we saw a lot of fish, yellow where we actually did much catching – There was a seam in the water here. It was much warmer in the lagoon, and calmer as well. The foam road along a current, and it held fish ready to be caught.
Anna and her fishies.
Anna and her fishies.
8 - 6 - Bluefin Trevally
Bluefin Trevally – Caranx melampygus – Angling Species #15 / 2015 Species #6

Rachel and I went out for some sunset fishing at one point, and caught one baby Bluefin Trevally before the bigeyes took over. Our vacation was really getting in the way of fishing! Finally we had one last night to make it happen. We had to leave our room, but our flight wasn’t leaving till around 11PM. High tide was peaking around Sunset, so I ran out, whipped out a white curly tail a few times and caught the final fish of my trip – a bluespotted cornetfish. I didn’t even know that these existed. My Father-in-Law also caught a small, very pokie fish. When we got to the resort, one of the workers there wanted to see what we caught. He had several things to say about the pokie one, mostly involving not touching them. He said that the ancient Hawaiians loved to catch cornetfish in lagoons and that they and the Hawaiian big-eyes are very delicious. I managed to slide into the hot tub beside my wife just before sunset, and if she noticed that I smelled like fish she didn’t say anything. Did I mention that I love my wife?

Bluespotted Cornetfish - Fistularia commersonii - Angling Species #14 / 2015 Species #7
Bluespotted Cornetfish – Fistularia commersonii – Angling Species #16 / 2015 Species #7

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