The awa awa have eluded me all year. The are the hardest fish for me to land because they aren’t often encountered, jump when hooked, and often succeed in tearing the hook out of their soft mouth. Here’s how I hooked and lost the last one. My family and friends much prefer awa awa paste to oio paste so I was on a mission to land one. The forecast called for light north winds, with surf on the south and east shores. Frank and I decided to stay in the safety of the bay and hunt for something more exotic than omilu and whites.
We had 7 live oama each and yet the first 5 or so were cut in half, crushed or spit out by small papio, aha and one large papio that took line and shed Frank’s double hook. Maybe the water was too calm and clear, and the predators were a little suspicious of our offerings?
An hr and a half into our paddle, I got an odd, erratic tap on the line and turned to see an awa awa leave the surface of the water. I called out to Frank and was glad I had just changed to a fresh leader. The fish was on longer than the few seconds I normally would take to lose an awa awa and my confidence grew. I kept the drag light so the hooks wouldn’t pull and the fish swam towards me after its initial run. That was unusually behavior for an awa awa. Normally they battle all the way to the boat, splashing me as I try to bring it aboard but this one was fairly docile. It briefly pulled straight down when it got near the kayak and I waited for the second long run that never came. When it floated broadside, I was surprised it was of decent size.
Frank offered to video with my cap cam so I tried to unhook and pose with the still squirming fish while maintaining a death grip. The front hook was halfway down its throat and rear hook was just under its gill. It was bleeding quite a bit. Maybe the hooks’ positions controlled and weakened it?
With the target species in my cooler bag, the pressure was off and I could enjoy the calm conditions. Frank landed a 12 inch omilu near the papa edge and I missed a fish, and then the bite stopped. We explored for another hour without the fish interrupting our solitude.
I hadn’t scraped the flesh off an awa awa or the more common oio before so I decided to give that a try. My dad assisted me and we harvested more than 3lbs from the 27.25 inch (FL) 5lb plus fish. 4 different families were able to stretch the fish paste into delicately tasting fish cake. There aren’t many fish that can be split so many ways and still be appreciated.
All the awa awa strikes I’ve gotten were on live oama. Kelly has hooked awa awa trolling dead baits but I seem to need a lively oama being pulled in the upright position. Catching, raising and transporting live oama is a lot of work but it seems to be the best bait for the fish I’ve been chasing. Here’s what’s involved in the oama process.
Now that I’ve gotten my awa awa for the year, I’m moving on to a much harder species to catch from a kayak. UKU!!! Such a bad sounding name for such a delicious, clean tasting, firm meat fish. Its English name is “green jobfish” which isn’t that much better. They are much further out than the depths we’ve been fishing, so I’ll need the crew to join me on this uku hunt. I’ve made poke from uku we caught from a boat and it’s now my favorite fish to eat.
How long to you think it’ll take to get my first kayak caught uku? Here’s how we did on our first kayak uku hunt.