By Rodney S. Yap
This is no fishing story.
That’s because Travis Castillon has a passion for free diving and spearfishing.
On Wednesday, the Haiku resident shot a 155-pound ulua diving in waters off Lana’i and then retrieved the monster fish 50-feet deep single-handedly. One shot. One diver. One really big “ulua” as it is called in Hawaii or giant trevally as it is known in Australia — and the record books, which will soon bear Castillon’s name.
Castillon’s 90-second episode on the backside of Lana’i came aboard the UFO Parasail boat captained by his dive partner Olie Shipp. Friends Dennis Taugauasi and Jason Blue also took pictures with Castillon and his record-breaking catch that weighed in officially at 155.8 pounds.
Castillon has applied for record verification with the International Underwater Spearfishing Association, the sport’s governing body. The IUSA will check to see that Castillon was unassisted, not using a breathing device, tether or other floating devices. His speargun must also be muscle powered only and not powered by compressed air.
Castillon does not anticipate any problems and expects to be awarded the new world record for giant trevally. Ironically, the previous world-record holder is also a guy named Travis from Maui — Travis Kashiwa, who landed the previous best ulua of 144.2 pounds on Christmas day, 2003, at Kaneohe Bay.
“It happened pretty quick,” said Castillon, who in June was on the cover of Hawaii Fishing News holding a 93-pound ulua.
Best of all, Castillon said one of the other divers had a GoPro camera mounted to his mask and has video “of the whole thing.”
“He’s got me shooting it and pulling it out of the hole,” he said.
Here is how Castillon described the events leading up to his prize-winning catch.
“We dove all day that day and even went out to the buoys and there were a bunch of dolphins out there and we didn’t see anything. Then we went out to the backside of Lana’i and was going point to point.
“I shot a 30 lb. ulua earlier in the day, but didn’t get to shoot much after that. We were heading back to Lahaina Harbor when one of the guys on the boat said he knew of a big ulua hole. So we decided to jump in and check it out before heading back.
“We jump in and this hole is big, so we start going in through different entrances. I saw one of my friends check the hole, but he didn’t go in and just checked the top of it and then he came back up. I didn’t get a good breath so I was just going to poke my head inside and check the hole. My friend was on the other side and a bunch of omilu (blue trevally family) came through and so I see this one is about a 15-pounder and I was picking it out and was about to shoot it, when I see the ulua come out of the corner.
“I had a shot at it but I didn’t take it because if I don’t stone it (bullseye) I would have lost all my gear. So I followed it into the hole and signaled my friend on the other side, then it turned.
“I knew it weighed more than a 100 pounds… then it turned and I just hoped to God I stoned it. When it turned, it kind of looked at me sideways and I shot it right there in the eye.
“Then I floated to the top of the hole and it sank to the bottom and was twitching sideways as it sank. Then I came out of the hole and all my friends were yelling at me, saying, ‘You just stoned a 100 pounder.’ “
“Then when I was pulling it up, I thought it was pulling back it was so heavy. When I pulled it out of the hole I knew it was way more than a 100 pounds but I didn’t think it was going to be that big.”
Once the fish was on the boat Castillon said everyone was trying to guess the weight. “One guy said, ‘That’s 156!’ He called it. Then I put it on the scale and it was 155.8.”
The following are the top ulua caught in Hawaii, using poles, not free diving, according to the Hawaii Fishing News.
157.0 — Cal Bright, Makua, Oahu 7/11/1984
Cal was fishing near Makua Cave on the west end of Oahu when he took an enormous strike on his half and half pole. He battled his fish to shore and can now brag on a feat few fishermen will ever equal.
150.0 — Mark S. Okihiro, Molokai 8/08/1986
Mark made an incredible shore-cast capture when you take into account that his 150-lb. ulua was captured from shore using 60 lb. test line and a Penn 4/0 reel. His pole was a 13-foot, 3-inch Fenwick.
150.0 — Earl T. Matsui, Lone Keawe, Maui 4/30/1983
Earl made his incredible ulua capture from shore using a 13-foot, 6-inch Sabre pole, Penn 3/0 Bluefin reel and Maxima 50 lb. test line.
145.8 — Russell Mori, Makena Coast, Maui 3/38/1991
Russell caught his monster ulua while using a Fenwick pole, Penn Senator 6/0 reel and 60 lb. test J-line. He also holds the distinction of catching a 563-lb. Seabass at the same location in 1989.
144.0 — Louis Carreira, North Shore, Oahu 4/1/2012
Louis Carreira of Kane’ohe was fishing on the North Shore of Oahu when he made his historic ulua capture. The fish had crashed a 2-lb. nenue Louis used for bait. He battled the monster using a 13-foot IRW Slider pole, Newell 546 reel and 60 lb. test Trilene line and needed every bit of skill and luck to land the fish in the heavy surf that was crashing the coast.