Trevally Fishing in Hawaii

A few months back I wrote a post about fishing for trevally during our trip to the Leeward Islands of French Polynesia last summer. Summer in Hawaii is the best time of year for trevally, or ulua, as we call them locally. In the spirit of looking forward to the upcoming season, I thought I would point out some of the differences I noticed between fishing for trevally in Tahiti, and fishing for trevally here in Hawaii.


I pointed out in my earlier post that most of the Tahitian islands are surrounded by barrier reefs and that the tidal fluctuation is very small. So, as long as the surf isn’t pumping, the reefs can be fished almost all the time.

This is in contrast to Hawaii where the terrain varies depending on the island, or even depending on which part of that island, one is fishing. On the Big Island of Hawaii, most of the shoreline fishing is done from rocky ledges. On Oahu, I fish from rocks, fringing reefs, and barrier reefs. The tidal fluctuations in Hawaii are not large, but are considerably larger than Tahiti, so many spots are accessible only when the tide is low and when the surf is small.

In my experience, other countries, even remote locales with small populations, are often severely over-fished and poorly managed. But Tahiti has healthy reefs and a stunning variety of fishes. In my earlier post, I mentioned running into many small sharks there, which is usually an indicator of a healthy fish population. We also saw a few bigger ulua, and even some small tuna, while scuba diving there. Consequently, I suspected that Tahiti would have better ulua fishing than Hawaii, but that was not the case. We fished a variety of reefs on a variety of islands, and I was not very impressed. Ultimately, although we caught a handful of papio (small ulua), bites from big fish did not materialize as I expected.

Hawaii, and Oahu in particular has a relatively dense population, and a lot of fishers, and not a lot of regulation. And yet, not long after we returned home, I ventured out to one of the local reefs and hooked into this fish:

And that was just the biggest fish I caught. I probably caught more ulua that morning than we caught during our whole trip in Tahiti. It is something that I have thought about for more than half a year now, but I still cannot explain. I still think Tahiti has more to offer as a trevally fishery than what we experienced. For now though, I am pretty happy fishing here in Hawaii!

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