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Start Me Up Cuz lands rare Butaguchi

By Staff | Mar 14, 2019

Capt. Steve Carroll holds his 27.6-pound Butaguchi ulua caught on Start Me Up Cuz.

LAHAINA – Capt. Steve Carroll and Co-capt. Anthony Ricco, aboard the Start Me Up Cuz, caught a rare 27.6-pound Butaguchi (thick-lipped ulua) while bottomfishing.

They were deep water jigging right on the edge of the 100-fathom ledge outside Honokowai. They normally catch lots of amberjack and trevally, and every once in a while paka.

They were using straight braid, 65-pound test Spectra line on a Shimano stand-up 6000 Baitrunner spinning reel and a Major Craft jigging rod.

They had the drag set as tight as they could set because the fish like to run them into the rocks.

Steve was drift fishing a high spot between 65 and 80 fathoms about two- to two-and-a-half miles offshore.

On their first drift, they had three bites immediately. All three were big trevally, running them into the rocks and breaking off.

Steve repositioned the boat as Anthony got everything re-rigged up and set up for a second drift.

On their next drift, they started catching amberjack around 10-15 pounds.

They had a bigger rip, with the fish screaming off a lot of line. They thought it was either a big amberjack or trevally.

It took them about 25 minutes to crank it up. Anthony grabbed the net as the fish neared the surface.

Steve’s initial thought at first look and the coloring was a nice amberjack.

When Anthony first saw it coming up, he thought it was a big gold-spot papio.

He shouted out, “I don’t think this thing’s an amberjack. It looks like a trevally, but something’s the matter with it.”

Steve asked, “What do you mean?”

As Anthony netted the fish and brought it in, it looked like a trevally, but Steve had never seen one like it before, so he wasn’t sure what it was.

He make a couple of calls to his buddies to get a verification on exactly what it was.

It turned out to be a Butaguchi (thick-lipped ulua).

Steve mentioned that it looked like a trevally but had different markings.

It had no teeth, no knives on the tail and a more elongated round forehead. It looked like a gold-spot papio without the spots.

Steve has been fishing Maui for 17 years, specializing in bottomfishing aboard the Cuz. This was quite a rare and special catch, said Steve. He got really lucky to catch one.

The Butaguchi is a very tasty fish and a highly valued food fish of commercial bottom fishermen. There is no threat for Ciguatera because of what they feed on (crustaceans such as crabs shrimps and octopuses).

They are uncommon in the main islands but abundant in the NWHI from the west bank of Nihoa to Kure Atoll. It inhabits not only banks and benthic slopes but also inshore areas.

The Hawaiian State record is 46 pounds.