||115 lbs. 1 oz.
Catching this fish was a dream come true! It all started with a last-minute trip back home to Kona for the weekend. COVID-19 lockdowns loomed, so I didnt want to go, but with persuasion from my girlfriend and inspiration from a couple of YouTube ulua videos, I changed my mind.
We flew in Friday morning at 9 a.m. I called my nephew and asked him if he wanted to catch bait. By 5 p.m., we figured out a last-minute spot that was close to home. By 8 p.m., our first lines were set with ulua candy, a.k.a. kupipi. Shortly after 8:15 p.m., my pole started screaming. I ran to it and set the hook. After a couple of good hooksets, the fight was on!
As soon as I set the hook, the fish started running straight out to the deep. This fish was heavy and strong and pulled on the drag slowly and steadily like a giant shark, but it also made the occasional ulua headshake. I knew the grounds where it was heading were deep and sandy. I backed off the drag and decided to let the fish tire itself out to where it was less likely to cut me off.
I looked to my right and saw that my fishing partner (a.k.a. girlfriend) Leimamo Naihe was itching to have a go. I handed the pole to her.
The fish was about 300 yards out and had been pulling line steadily for 15 minutes. I was tired, and my only hope was that the fish felt the same. I told Leimamo to tighten the drag and try to turn its head. Sure enough, the fish started to swim to the left and in. We took turns fighting the fish for another 15 minutes. Commotion ensued when the fish wrapped another line and got tangled. Both poles were wrapped up with the fish. I ran to the other pole and tried my best to keep the line off the reef while Leimamo continued reeling in the fish.
The fish was nearly to shore when we reached the knot where the two poles were connected. I handlined the fish the rest of the way while my nephew Dayhtan ran out to grab the fish. As soon as he shined his light on it, he started screaming, Ulua100-poundah! over and over.
Those words echoed in the night as we saw the giant silver mass on the end of his tiny gaff. We dragged the fish into a small tidepool, and everyone was astounded by the length and mass of this fish. It was huge!
The adrenaline rush I had reminded me of the excitement I felt with the first ulua Id ever caught. I felt relief, too, and I couldnt be prouder of the teamwork and the way things ended that night. It was truly a blessing!
Early the next morning we headed over to
S. Tokunaga Store in Hilo for an official weight of 115.1 lbs. Then we went to @makai_impressions to get the fish printed. Big mahalo to Brandon Nonaka for the amazing work!
Being part of Poseidon Fishing Research ulua project, I knew I had to get this uluas gonads sampled and weighed. It was a good thing Dyllon from Poseidon Research in Hilo was able to meet us and get samples and extract the ear bones to age the fish. Thanks to Cassie Pardee from Poseidon Fishing Research on Maui, we know that this big female ulua was 18 years old.