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Hawaiian grouper/bass

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Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2002
I just saw a very large fish at Niihau on the 9th september. I was going to show one of my passengers some very big white ulua's that have been hanging around (50-60lbs) inside a arch. I went in to scare a couple out but there was none. I'm at 50-55ft when I look over and see a 8-10ft fish. This was by far the largest fish I have seen (except sharks) in the ocean. That includes the 500lb marlin I saw at one of our snorkel spots. This thing was fat, huge massive, and ancient looking. It was either a grouper or a seabass (I don't know the difference). For the life of me I can't find any info on this creature. I've heard stories of the Hawaiian grouper getting very big, and one 200lb'der was speared here on Kauai in the 70's. This thing was way begger than a 200lb grouper. It was so fat (how fat was she lrofll ) I can't make a judgement.
What I'm trying to figure out is; how heavy would any of you estimate a 8-10ft grouper (I hear they happen more in cooler water), and does anyone know anything else about the Hawaiian grouper/seabass?

Mahalo Ahinalu
Check This Out!!!

I remember reading this article in the Hawaii Fishing News. The guy who went to gaff it thought they hooked a baby whale in the darkness! :eek:

I know Ayau speared one in recent history and people had a fit because while it is not protected, it is rare and should be treated as such.

Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to know.
By the way, they weren't actually "shorecasting," they were swimming or paddling their lines out as commonly done in Maui.

Fuzz thanks for the link,
So do you know how big they get? This fish was much bigger than that (I have a rock it hung out next to, and a cave he sat in as reference. It also seemed to have a bigger mouth proportionate to it body. IF I ever see it again I hope to have a camera handy, the tourist that was on the surface looking down took his last shot of me as I was diving down.:duh Thanks again.
Aloha ahinalu
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I haven't heard of them getting much bigger than that! you do know water adds 25% right? ;)

Only a very few of the people I've dove with have seen them!
My grandpa dove in Hawaii his whole life, he never came across one(course he spent most of his time on the reefs harassing manini and tako).

In any case, I am greatly envious of you :D Definitely take a camera next time :)
In all the pictures that I've seen, they are identical to Calif. Black Seabass. Up to 600# showed up occasionally over the years. Protection, starting in '71, didn't help much but, when the gill nets were banned they made a comeback, big time.
I had a love affair with them and spent hundreds of days hunting them, 20-30 years ago. Even managed to 'shoot' over 20, with a special tag gun that was designed by my buddy and built by an old machinist in Long Beach. I never killed one and managed to rescue two over the years. It's fun to remember the good old days, when I dove to 70 feet for four or five hours. Now I can go twice as deep but, in one hour I'm wiped out.
Originally posted by fuzz
I haven't heard of them getting much bigger than that! you do know water adds 25% right? ;)

I thought it was 33% (1/3):confused:

How I am judging the length are two things. First, it was way longer than any white tip, black tip, grey reef, or galapagos reef shark I have every seen. Also, I did an "arm length" measurement of the rock and cave it was next to. I've been diving in Hawaii seriously for over 13 years (20 if you count my childhood on Oahu). My crew usually accuse me of underestimating fish. I am very fortunate to go to Niihau 4 days a week as a captain for the tour company I work for, and snorkel almost every day.:D

The sea bass was one of the coolest things I have ever seen in the ocean. Its shear size was very impressive, and you just don't expect a bass that big in Hawaii.

I envy Bill for having seen more than one.

Thanks for the info guys, at least I now know it wasn't mutated by nuclear waste from the submarine operations the Navy does near Niihau.:eek:

Aloha ahinalu
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Hey Ahinalu,

My friend shot one (not Bruce Ayau it's Danny Robertson) here on the Big Island about 15 years ago. He was freediving a place called the Black Hole a very productive spot even to this day. He just saw the head sticking out of the hole and he shot down through the top of it's head. He said it ran out of the hole and would have taken his gun, float line and everything if it hadn't rapped around a coral head. He said he thought he shot the biggest Roi he'd ever seen.:duh He had to go down and shoot it again to kill it and then because he was shore diving had to haul it about 100 yards to shore and then out onto the rocks. He was driving a Toyota 4x4 and had to have some people help him put it in the back of his truck. It's belly touched top of the bed side to side and the tail hung out the back about 2 feet. (I've seen the pics) He took it to the ice house and they weighed it at 350lbs. Then they gutted it and there was a whole non-digested turtle in it's stomach. They identified it as a Black Sea Bass.

I have never seen one and if I were spearfishing and saw one I wouldn't shoot one because they are so rare.

Anyway thought you might like to hear the story.


Jees, the fish in the link looks like Java the Hut!!!

It looks so cumbersome, can this thing even flee if threathen by a hunter?

Thanks for that story, I guess it just goes to show that being in the middle of the ocean here things can come form everywhere. I don't think I could have brought myself to shoot it either. :eek: Didn't you guys have a female elephant seal beach itself about 8 months ago?
Aloha Ahinalu

BTW- Do you ever get over to Kauai? Do you know Kaliko Oligo? He plays baseball for HIlo, but dives Kona a lot too.

It was about that big. Like I said I was able to measure it against a couple of things. I think I'll bring a cloth tape measure to get a more accurate length next time I snorkel that spot (I don't usualy go there due to trade winds). Christ, I was way off on the weight thing, according to the weights that are posted. I'm going to print that pic and show the guys at work that saq it too. They'll be happy to see it.

Thanks again for all the links to pics and info, keep'm coming!:D

Aloha Ahinalu
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