LIHUE — Joe Olivas only had a 7-foot St. Croix rod when he went fishing.
But that was all he needed to land his monstrous catch: a 99.2-pound giant trevally, or ulua.
“I just didn’t believe that was how big it was,” the Kapaa resident said about his huge haul July 7 on the shores of Kealia Lookout. “With the small rod it, it was just like, it was just unbelievable.”
It was early in the morning and Olivas, using a 50-pound braid with a backing of 20 pounds, coudn’t believe the might when something hit his line.
“I didn’t know how big it was,” he said. “I thought it was a monk seal at first.”
Undaunted, Olivas said he used the surge to his advantage and let his line drag as he held onto the spool while walking down the shore. After a 48-minute struggle, Olivas pulled the massive ulua out of the ocean around 7:50 a.m.
Olivas fought against the fish as it fought against the surge, which tired it out.
“I had to be careful because I was trying to get my footing,” Olivas said. “I said, ‘Just hold the rod,’ and it’s pulling and you’re just hoping that the rod don’t break.”
After he caught the trevally, three bystanders who watched the catch helped Olivas bring the fish to shore.
Olivas intended to return the fish to the ocean, but when one of the bystanders, Job Lopez, told him the fish could feed his family, Olivas decided to split it with those who helped him.
“I looked at this guy and I said ‘Well, there’s got to be a reason why I caught the fish,’” Olivas said. “‘It must be to give to him for food. I’m not sure, but so I figured that’s what I’m going to do.’”
A member of St. Catherine’s Church, Olivas, who dedicated his fish to his son, then shared his half of the fish with his church community and friends.
“It went to a good cause,” Olivas said.
The 100 Plus Club also honored Olivas for catching the largest fish with the lightest tackle from the shoreline in Hawaii, according to information gathered by Aryk Shankles.
Olivas posted a video of his catch on his Youtube channel.
Few people believed him when he told them how he caught the fish, due to the size of the fishing rod and line, but they soon learned the truth after watching Olivas’ struggle.
“When I started this fishing spree, a lot of people criticized my equipment, the gear that I had, and they were saying I’d never catch no GT (giant trevally) with that, but my analogy of this was, I wasn’t challenging anybody,” Olivas said. “What I posted was, ‘I’m going to shoot an elephant with a BB gun.’”
Olivas takes people from across the world on fishing trips, but after his video came out he became even more popular.
People from Guam, Singapore and Mexico have hired Olivas to take them fishing.
The owner of Kaku Hawaii Fishing Lures will also soon be naming a lure after Olivas called “Poppah’s Lure.”
Olivas, who has been a fisherman since he was 5, also works as a professional photographer.
“I believe somebody up there has given us talents and it’s our obligation to share our talents with other people,” he said.
Olivas hopes to teach others that you don’t need fancy tools to make a good catch.
“My analogy is to have small gear and have a good time,” he said. “What I’ve proven is that I have small gear, 7-foot, and you can go for a 100-pound fish or you can go for a small fish only with one rod and one reel.”