Around the same time students return to school, schools of opelu return to beautiful and bountiful Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu.

These fish are often used as bait to catch larger fish; otherwise, they’re a tasty fried dish served at many local restaurants. Whatever the purpose, dozens of fishermen rush to the shores of Waimea with poles and taco boxes in hand. Also a must-have, high hopes in trying their luck against Mother Ocean.

The “opelu run,” as it is called, has been an island tradition for decades. Older generations bring (drag) the younger ones to the glassy Waimea waters with the hopes that they’ll one day carry on the family tradition. Before the crack of dawn, you’ll see fishermen standing shin-deep in the shallow placid waters. The smaller opelu swim just offshore, but it’s only a matter of time that the bigger guys start cruising toward shore, too.

Opelu (pronounced oh-PEH-loo) can best be identified by its dark blue color and white underside. They don’t typically get much longer than a foot in length and are usually caught by the pounds. Fishermen at Waimea often use poles but others with boats will use throw-nets.

This usually happens at the beginning of August and into September, so be on the lookout for these hardcore anglers. Otherwise, ask to sample this tasty dish the next time you go to a local eatery.

Photo Courtesy: Wiki Commons

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