Kawakawa, kahala and opakapaka lead the list

With just 10 days left in 2015, there is still time left to hook the biggest fish of the year in one or more of the 22 categories on our Big-Fish List. In fact, we’ve seen three new list-leaders in the last two weeks. Those are the 124-pound kahala we reported about in last week’s column, a 12-pound opakapaka caught on Wednesday and an 18.8-pound kawakawa on Friday.


Night Runner crew Brittany McCurdy hoists an 18.8 pound kawakawa.

Kawakawa hang around opelu schools in 25- to 30-fathoms and attack them from above or below.  So you might expect to hook one on a bait near the surface or on a jig worked up from the bottom.  Jeff Closner of Yakima, Washington, hooked his up on top.

Jeff was aboard Night Runner with Capt. Shawn Rotella and crew Brittany McCurdy.  He had just set out a live opelu with a weight to send down deep, but it had sunk only a few yards when the kawakawa took it and ran.

Shawn had set Jeff up with a light 16-pound-class stand-up rod, which buckled far over from the pull of the fish.  No one had seen the fish so the guessing game started right from the first sizzling run.  Then the fish raced towards the boat.  The U-turn maneuver often slackens the line so the fish can shake the hook free, but not this time.

For the rest of the story

Big-Fish List for 2015. The list recognizes the biggest fish caught on rod and reel (except opakapaka and onaga, for which we’ll accept hand line catches) in West Hawaii waters for 2015 in each of 22 categories. They are listed by species, weight, angler, skipper, boat, and date. The list is updated every Sunday throughout the year (copyright 2015 by Jim Rizzuto). If we have overlooked you, give us a call (885-4208) or send an e-mail ([email protected]).

  • Kahala, 124, Ernie Schroeder, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Dec.12.
  • Kaku, (barracuda), 49, Ben Bermoro, from shore. Aug. 14
  • Ono (tie) 58.5, Asa Sugitan, Crazy Ann. Jan. 31,  58.2, Kawika Devine, Arnie Wolfe, Kiana Kai. Nov. 16.
  • Mahimahi, 53, Ray Mohammed, Capt. Jim Wigzell, Go Get Em. March 15.
  • Sailfish, 101, Craig Cugnit, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Jan. 31
  • Spearfish, 55.2, Heidi O’Grady, Capt. Andy Diehl, Bite Me 3
  • Striped marlin (tie), 141.5, Capt. Rocky Guaron, Hooked Up, March 26 and 142, Jody Pintar, Capt Jeff Heintz, Linda Sue IV.  April 8.
  • Bigeye tuna, 189, Meg Stern, Capt. Tracy Epstein, Last Chance. Feb. 19.
  • Blue marlin, 1,309, Michael Bilich, Capt. Mat Bowman, Northern Lights.  Aug 26.  (1,368*, Guy Kitaoka, Darrell Omori, Rayna. July 28, *electric reel).
  • Black marlin, 209, Tim Flint, Capt. Butch Chee, Duck Soup. Sept. 7.
  • Ahi, 233, Ken Smith, Capt. Bobby Cherry. Cherry Pit II, May 1.
  • Ulua (giant trevally), 104.5, Adam Hodgson, Kayak.  March 31.
  • Omilu (bluefin trevally), 13.5, Bruce Lentz, caught from shore.  April 2.
  • Otaru (skipjack tuna), 29, Unknown, Capt. Chad Contessa, Bite Me. June 2.
  • Broadbill swordfish, 50.5, Tony Clark, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui. June 6.
  • Ahipalaha (albacore), (vacant)
  • Kawakawa, 18.8, Jeff Closner, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Dec. 18.
  • Kamanu (rainbow runner), 21, Adam Hodgson, kayak. May 28, and 21.5, Jim Demand, Capt. Greg Kaufmann, Reel Screamer.  Sept. 8.
  • Opakapaka (pink snapper), 12, Flora and Milton Fukumitsu, Flora III. Dec 16.
  • Onaga (ulaula ko`aie), (21) Earl K. Hind, Kilohana. Sept. 11.
  • Uku (gray snapper), 16, Todd Shiraki, Treeny 2, June 20.
  • O`io (bonefish), 5.4, James Cintas (6 years old), Shoreline.