The Omilu’s Strike Zone

IMG_20171010_082121 (1)In the course of some internet research I found a link to Hawaii’s Mike Sakamoto Presents 101 Fishing Tips on Google Books. The relevant section was “The Omilu’s Strike Zone” and I clicked on it excitedly. Mike Sakamoto was one of the most recognizable faces in Hawaii for his long-running television show, Fishing Tales. He also wrote several books on fishing in Hawaii and I was very interested in what he had to say about catching big trevally.


Unfortunately, that section of the book wasn’t available for preview. I perused some other bits, which were interesting, but I finally navigated away unfulfilled. My curiosity lingered and several months later I searched again for the book. This time, “The Omilu’s Strike Zone” was available!

Sakamoto opening sentence summed it all up: “The best place to hook a trophy-sized ‘omilu is 2 feet from shore.”

His advice to anglers was simple: “you should try to keep the lure in the white water for as long as your patience will allow… The reason for this is because close to the rocks and in the white water is the perfect place for the ulua to ambush its prey”

(as of October 10, 2017, the chapter was still available on Google Books)

Needless to say, reading this got me excited all over again to go out and fish for ulua. Sakamoto’s advice should not be taken literally in every situation. The text is referring to fishing along rocky shorelines with steep drop-offs, but the essence applies equally well to other scenarios. I fish for ulua primarily on fringing reefs which are up to a half mile from the actual shoreline. The outer edge of the reef has a steep edge where waves break, creating the white water zone that Sakamoto refers to. What was most novel to me about Sakamoto’s advice was the idea of slowing the lure down and keeping in that zone as long as possible. Ulua are incredibly fast and I’ve always kept up a quick retrieve right to the last instant when I lift my lure from the water, so I was anxious to get out and try this new strategy in the water.

When I did finally get a chance, the conditions were so calm that it was hard to find much white water. Nevertheless, I managed to find a school of white papio (aka baby Giant Trevally) that kept me busy for quite a while.


All together I landed about six fish like these, with a couple of bluefin papio thrown in for good measure. It was a great morning, inspired by one of Hawaii’s true fishing legends.


5 thoughts on “The Omilu’s Strike Zone

  1. Hey man, I’m going to Hawaii for a few days of fishing, trying to target papios and omilus. Any tips on the retrieve style and how heavy of a tackle I should use? I’ll primarily be fishing in oahu and big island from shore. Thanks a lot!


    • Sounds like fun! If you are spinning with limited tackle, I would come with 20-30 lb test line and 40-50 lb test leader. Fish any rocky area you can find, around boulders, ledges and also right in the surf (cast just behind breaking waves into the whitewash). Start with a fast retrieve, you cannot outrun a papio! If you don’t get any action then try to slow down your retrieve gradually until the lure is just barely swimming. Start with small lures. Catching small papio is the best indicator that you are fishing the right way in the right spot. Once you are dialed in then you can try to target bigger fish.


  2. Retired from law enforcement on the mainland in June and moved here to Oahu. Living in Makakilo now. Any good fishing spots for polio that you would recommend out here in west Oahu? Thanks!


    • Hi Hershel, welcome to Oahu! My favorite place on the West Side is along the trail to Kaena Point, which is probably a 40 minute drive for you. I haven’t fished much between Koolina and Waianae, so I don’t know about parking and accessibility, but I suspect that early mornings at a spot like Kahe Point would be productive. Just remember that winter time can be slow, and watch out for big Northwest surf. Good luck!


      • Thanks much for the response. I will give both of those places a try. Kaena Point sounds interesting and will please my wife as she enjoys hiking.


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