A 145-pound April Fool’s Fish Tale

Lou Carreira and his ulua. Photo from Louis Carreira

Imagine landing one of the biggest fishes ever caught from an Oahu shoreline – on April Fool’s Day.

Now, imagine what it would be like telling everyone it was no joke.

It happened to Lou Carreira, and he has photographs to prove it.

“April Fool’s Day, good thing I had a time-stamp on my pictures,” laughs Carreira. “I thought April Fool’s, no one is going to believe me. Even my dad said yeah, yeah right. He thought I was lying. I couldn’t believe it and I was there!”

It happened at a secret spot on Oahu’s North Shore (fishermen never reveal their favorite fishing holes). Carreira and his two friends started fishing for “live bait” the day before and were prepared for a long night.

“We had some strikes earlier in the night, in fact about 10 p.m. I caught a reef shark,” recalls Carreira. “Then we started getting tired, and right before we went to sleep we talked about how we normally don’t get strikes after midnight.”

That would change. At about 2 a.m. the bell on his rod and reel went crazy. Something huge had snatched up the live two-pound nenue on his line and was taking it out to sea.

“I was in a daze and it took me a few seconds to understand what was happening,” laughs the 31-year-old. “I was afraid my line would snap because it was rubbing against the reef. It took me about 45 minutes to bring it in.”

Carreira’s friend rushed down to the reef to gaff the ulua and carry it out of the water. Surges from waves created additional challenges.

“My friend yelled, ‘I can’t lift this thing,'” says Carreira. “The weight of the ulua snapped our gaff. Eventually all three of us managed to get it out of the water, and that’s when we got our first real look at how massive it was. We were in shock and jumping up and down!”

Carreira says it took another 15 minutes to carry the massive fish to their truck. They thought it weighed about 100 pounds, but soon learned at Brian’s Fishing Supply that it was much larger.

“I was behind the scale so at first I didn’t see the total,” says Carreira. “Then when I rushed in front of the scale and saw 145, I turned to Brian and asked if his scale was broken. He said no, it’s 145 pounds!”

The 145-pound ulua is believed to be the second-largest ulua ever caught on a rod and reel from an Oahu shoreline. The biggest was a 157-pounder caught in the early 1980s. The biggest ever speared was a 190-pounder.

Carreira says the largest ulua he had caught was a 65-pounder. He gave the organs and head to the ulua tagging project run by the state. Scientists believe it was a female. They expect to learn the age of the fish in a few weeks when test results return from a lab on the Mainland.

“It was pretty crazy, you had to see it in person – the size of the head and its girth,” says Carreira. “We took it to Naoki’s in Kaneohe to get printed, and it was so massive on paper. And to think it happened on April Fool’s Day!”

Only this was no fishing tale.