Common Hawaiian reef fish of Maui

The following Hawaiian reef fish can be caught in Maui’s inshore waters; shore fishing from the beach, spear fishing, or on a typical Maui bottom fishing charter.

ta'apeTa’ape (Blueline Snapper)
(2-10+ lbs. Year round. More common in the summer)
Ta’ape were introduced into Hawaiian waters from French Polynesia over 50 years ago and now thrive within Hawaii’s shallow reefs.  It is one of the most common Hawaiian reef fish. While edible, Taape are not as tasty as other snapper species. Opinions vary as to whether their introduction has actually harmed the other indigenous population reef fish.

hogfishHawaiian Hogfish
Weighing in at an average of about 1-2 pounds, the Hawaiian hogfish (A’awa) is one of the larger menbers of the wrasse family. Closely related to Parrotfish, Hogfish can be recognized by their elongated snout, protruding lips, and sharp teeth. They taste great, but have been implicated in ciguatera poisonings.

ukuUku (Gray Snapper)
(2-10+ lbs. Year round. Most common in early summer)
Uku is one of three common snapper varieties in found in Maui waters, and is a frequent catch on the shallow reefs. Uku is also caught on the surface, while trolling inshore waters. It has somewhat translucent, delicate pink flesh and very good eating, with a slightly stronger flavor than mahi mahi or opakapaka.

yellowspot travallyYellow Spot Travally (Papa Ulua)
A member of the jack family, this trevally is easily recognized from the splattering of yellow spots on it flank. Can reach lengths of 2 feet.  Slightly oily flesh, but very tasty!

Ulua (giant travally)Ulua / Papio
Omilu (Bluefin trevally); Pa´opa´o (Golden trevally, yellow striped); Papa (Island jack, yellow spot); White papio/ulua (Giant trevally, GT, ulua)
The Hawaiian term “ulua” actually encompasses various members of the jack family that have attained a weight of 10 pounds or more. Those that have yet to reach the 10 pound mark are referred to as “papio”. Ulua are caught both while trolling Maui Hawaii inshore waters, whipping/spinning from shore, and while bottom fishing. Many consider them to be better fighters than mahi mahi or even marlin. An effective tag and release program has been underway for nearly a decade now in order to monitor the breeding, growth, and migration of the papio and ulua.

photo by Barron Fackler

Aweoweo (Hawaiian Bigeye)
The term āweoweo in Hawaiian means “glowing red”. When the fish is resting, it displays this blotchy flesh color ranging from pink to brown. When it becomes more active, it glows a deep red color. Another interesting piece of Hawaiian lore… The presence of a school of āweoweo close to shore or within a harbor was believed to foretell the death of a high chief. Very good eating.

Don’t let their small size fool you. These are highly prized, delectable little morsels. Keepers! Menpachi are not all that common fish caught on Maui bottom fishing trips as they are essentially nocturnal, and are usually found in deeper waters.

barracudaKaku (Barracuda)
Barracuda are common predators in Maui’s near shore waters. They can be caught casting from the shore, bottom fishing, and inshore trolling with bait or artificial lure.  If you’re lucky enough to bring one of these beasts on board, I’d recommend letting the crew handle it, unless you know what you’re doing. The impressive teeth are NOT just for show.

amberjackKahala (Amberjack)
Largest of the jacks, the kahala averages between 15-40 pounds, however they can get well over 100. These are some of the larger Hawaiian reef fish and are strong fighters. They are reasonably tasty grilled.