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Spearfisherman shoots record- breaking ulua

By Staff | Oct 24, 2013

Travis Castillon (left) and Olie Shipp with their 155.8-pound giant trevally (white) ulua. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – A pending Hawaii state and IUSA world spearfishing record is waiting for verification for Travis Castillon for his recent, record-breaking catch of a giant trevally (white) ulua that weighed in at 155.8 pounds.

Travis was free diving with Capt. Olie Shipp and friends Dennis Taugauasi and Jason Blue aboard a UFO Parasail boat. They had been diving the K-Buoy off the southwest corner of Lanai, but there were dolphins in the area – and no fish – so they headed inside to the backside of Lanai to check out a few spots.

They were going from point to point when one of the friends mentioned a big tunnel that might be holding ulua. Dennis and Jason jumped in and checked out the top of the hole, which was about 60 feet deep, but didn’t go in and came back up. Olie and Travis dropped down to the hole, which was a big cave about 100 feet long.

Olie went in on one side, with Travis spotting a bunch of bluefin trevally (omilu) swimming through on the other side. He was going to shoot one of the bigger omilu, maybe 10-15 pounds, but right before he was about to pull the trigger, this big ulua came by. He knew it was a 100-pounder. “It was like it wasn’t scared of anything. It was just cruising,” mentioned Travis.

Travis followed it into the hole and waited for a good shot. He thought, “If I’m going to shoot this thing, I’m not pulling the trigger unless I’m going to ‘stone’ it (bullseye). Otherwise, it’s taking off.” He waited and had a few shots on it at first, but decided to wait.

Olie was on the far side, so the ulua kind of turned sideways and stopped. Travis was really close when he shot it, about eight feet away. As soon as he shot it, it twitched a few times as its eyes rolled to the back of its head and sank. Olie came right up to it for a back-up shot, but they didn’t need it.

When they got it on the deck, the spear came out really easy. “The barb only went in maybe four inches. The tip hit it right behind the eye. I stoned it right in the brain,” said Travis. Travis has been waiting to shoot a 100-pounder. He has shot a 93-pounder and 80s, but never a 100-pounder.

Travis was using a Riffe Euro E-110 speargun with 5/8-inch double bands. His ulua was 66 inches (5.5 feet) from nose to tail, with a half-body girth of 22.25 inches.

The IUSA (International Underwater Spearfishing Association) is the official governing agency that establishes uniform regulations for the compilation of world spearfishing records and provides basic spearfishing guidelines, similar to the IGFA (International Game Fishing Association).

The previous spearfishing world record holder is also from Maui. Travis Kashiwa landed an ulua weighing 144.2 pounds on Christmas Day in 2003 at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. The Hawaii state and world record (non-IUSA/IGFA) for the largest ulua officially weighed is a 191-pound white ulua by Al Gadow from Maui on Jan. 14, 1980. He was scuba diving between Maui and Lanai at a spot known as Stonewall.

The giant trevally is one of the largest and most powerful and aggressive members of the jack family of fishes. Known in Hawaii as “ulua aukea,” it is a large, top predator found on coral reefs across the Indo-Pacific region. The giant trevally is considered one of the top gamefish in the Indo-Pacific, having outstanding strength, speed and endurance once hooked. It is highly sought-after as a food fish, although ciguatera poisoning is common in the fish.