Opah is a pelagic species, often found with tuna and billfish. The fish is found in southern waters and has recently become popular with restaurants in Hawaii. All of the opah landed in Hawaii are caught by longlining. Almost all opah sold in the U.S. market are from Hawaii.
This species is very colourful with a silvery-grey upper body color and a rose red dotted with white spots toward the belly. Its fins are crimson, and its large eyes are encircled with gold. An opah has three types of flesh, each a different color. Behind the head and along the backbone is an attractive orange colored flesh. Toward the belly, the flesh pales to a pink color. The fish’s cheeks yield dark red flesh. These types of flesh all cook to a white color.
Scientists know very little about the opah's life history. This is due to the fact that it is a deep ocean fish with only a minor commercial fishery.
This fishery uses a longline to catch a variety of pelagic fish on the high seas such as tuna and swordfish. A deep-set longline is used to primarily target tuna and a shallow-set longline is used to target swordfish or mixed species including bigeye, Albacore and yellowfin tuna. Baited hooks are attached to a line that floats in the ocean using buoys and flagpoles.
This fishery uses a variety of artisanal hook-and-line methods to catch coastal pelagic fish such as tuna, marlin, swordfish, mahi mahi, wahoo (ono) and others. A pole and line with live bait scattered into the water is used to catch feeding skipjack tuna. Trolling with lures and lines, and handlines with lures, lines and bait bags are used to target larger fish such as bigeye tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi and wahoo.
Deep-sea Rod & Reel
This fishery uses rods and reels to catch six species of snapper and one species of grouper that are called “bottomfish.”