Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bigeye tuna are often mistaken for yellowfin tuna

Bigeye tuna is one of two species known in Hawaii simply as ahi. The Bigeye can be mistaken for a yellowfin as they both have yellow fins, however the bigeye is typically smaller averaging about 40 pounds; the fins are smaller and more fin like than the actual yellowfin tuna, which has a longer fin. The Bigeye can be recognized by its plump body & its larger head, with its unusually large eyes, hence the name: Bigeye.

Adult bigeye tuna are the deepest swimmers of all tuna species, with a depth range of 150 to 250 fathoms. Smaller bigeye tuna ( about 20-30 pounds) may be encountered in shallower waters, including fish aggregation buoys.

Tuna is caught year round in Hawaii, with the Bigeye tuna running October-April, which is the off-season for other tuna species.

Caught in deeper, cooler water, the Bigeye tuna caught in Hawaii range from 20 to over 200 pounds, Bigeye tuna of good quality is firm, with a reddish-pinkish flesh color, and is the preferred species for the preparation of sashimi, due to its higher fat content. Ahi steaks are also good for grilling and it’s mild flavor works good with many different recipes.

Aku are featured prominently in Hawaiian mythology

Although there are many types of Tuna, here in Hawaii we see mainly:Big Eye Tuna: Ahi po`o nui, (Ahi) Yellow Fin Tuna: Ahi, and the favorite of most Hawaiians themselves is the Skip Jack Tuna: Aku, which features prominently in Hawaiian mythology.

While doing a bit more research for this article, I came across a great web site
for anyone interested in old Hawaiian fishing practices. The Hawaiians knowledge of currents, fazes of the moon and how to fish for each individual type of fish is simply amazing.

Aku tend to feed in schools near the surface and the fishing can be fast and furious. Ahi are known for their strength and fighting prowess and present a challenge to even the most experienced fisherman.

Aku caught in Hawaii routinely range between 4 and 15 pounds in round weight, with larger fish (16 to 30 pounds in round weight), moving into Hawaiian waters during the summer season. (April-September).

Aku has a firm flesh that is deep red in color. The flesh color varies with the size of the fish, with smaller fish having a lighter red color; which is why the larger aku are preferred for raw fish preparations, such as sashimi, requiring a nice red meat.

For big time sport-fishing excitement, the Aku is best known for live-baiting Blue Marlin.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mahi Mahi are as beautiful as they are exciting to catch

Popular name: Dorado or Dolphin fish

Mahi Mahi are one of the most beautiful fish to catch as well as one of the most exciting, with lots of surface action! Make sure to grab your video camera or cell phone when you have one of these big boys hooked up. Mahi is one of the most abundant fish in Hawaiian waters, and while out trolling for Marlin, big game fishing boats often find nets in the water, surrounded by lots of Mahi Mahi. When you hear of a boat coming in with about 20 fish, chances are they found a cargo net. This can be some of the best fishing, as you are simply bringing in one after another; then call your friends for a fish fry or Hawaiian style BBQ.

Mahi Mahi means strong in Hawaiian. The best time to catch these fish is Sept.-May, usually peaking in March-May and Sept.-November. Mahi do not live long, only averaging about 4 years, however they propagate quite prolifically! The average size is 10-30 pounds, with the male/bull having a particularly large, bulbous forehead.

The meat is firm, light pink and has a mild sweet flavor. While alive its colors are a brilliant silvery blue, with golden yellow tones; these colors fade quickly when the fish dies.
*photo is Captain John of Rascal fishing charters 2-4-2010

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ancient Hawaiian Gods

Geographically, Hawaii is the most isolated place on Earth! It is believed that the first Polynesian settlers were skilled ocean navigators and astronomers, and traveled to Hawaii in double-hulled canoes. They sailed from the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific in an age when Western boats rarely went out of sight of land.

Over the generations, Lawai'a (fishermen) honed their hunting skills with the help of tools such as the spear, net, trap, line and hook. Lawai'a used hooks (makau) to catch fish in the open ocean. They possessed knowledge of specific techniques such as which hook was needed to catch a particular type of fish.

The ancient Hawaiians were a deeply religious people, and the Gods played a big role in their daily life. Kanaloa was/is the god of the Ocean, however most fishermen appealed to one of the lesser gods: Ku'ula (the deity presiding over and controlling the fish in the Sea) for his benevolence, though a variety of deities might be worshiped. To insure a good catch, the early Hawaiians built a fishing heiau (religous site), called ko'a.

These heiau were named in honor of the particular god, that each fisherman chose as his good luck deity. Before setting out to fish, offerings of bananas and baked pig would be made at the heiau. Small Ku'ula alters, smooth stones pointing toward heaven, also existed where offerings could be made. Ku'ula rocks can still be seen on promontories overlooking favorite fishing sites.