Select Page

The Most Incredible Article About Ulua Fish You’ll Ever Read

ulua logo

Ulua are fast-swimming predators, like other carangids, feeding on a number of fish and crustaceans.

Juvenile Ulua, also known as Päpio, seem to live near shore, but relocate to deeper water as they get bigger.

Ulua is a common game fish in Hawaii and is usually delicious, although you should exercise caution when eating ulua because they are frequently cross-contaminated with ciguatera.

Ulua are known as jacks or giant trevallies. As juveniles, they are known as papio’s.

The giant trevally is distributed across the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region, with a range ranging from western South Africa to eastern Hawaii, including northern Japan and southern Australia.

Ulua uses various hunting tactics to pick up fleeing prey, such as killing monk seals by getting in front of them as they retreat, and also using sharks for an ambush.

Just recently in 2017, these fish were caught on film jumping out of the water and catching birds out of the sky!

The Different Types Of Ulua

When it comes to ulua’s there are many different types. Here are the different types of ulua fish.

Ulua Aukea – White Trevally

Ulua Aukea - White Trevally

The Striped Jack, also known as the White Trevally, is a popular Carangidae sport fish widely distributed throughout the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian, and Pacific Oceans in tropical and warm waters.

It has a deep body with metallic overtones and a dark spot above the gills, plus it has a greenish hue. The fins are yellow.

They are strong warriors, and because they are a little dry, the meat is enjoyable to ingest. They are often cast as cut baits.

This trevally is known as araara in New Zealand by the Māori, and is normally limited to waters north of Cook Strait, but in summer it often stretches as far south as Otago.

Ulua Lä‘uli – Black Trevally

Ulua La‘uli - Black Trevally

Black trevally is a species of ocean fish. The species has a wide-ranging distribution that extends across oceans and tropical waters in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean areas.

The species thrives around many offshore islands, like the Caribbean islands of the Atlantic, the Hawaiian islands in the Pacific, and in the Indian Ocean off the Seychelles and the Maldives.

Black Jacks are less likely to be found in shallow waters, preferring deep reefs, ledges, and seamounts over clear water.

It is simple to notice the species by its black to grey fins and jet black scutes and a bulky profile close to the snout.

The black jack lives in either solitary or small schools. It is known to other members of its species as a school. It can be predatory and either eat fish, crustaceans, or shellfish.

Ulua Kihikihi – Threadfin Jack (Kagami)

Ulua Kihikihi - Threadfin Jack (Kagami)

The threadfin jack looks much like many other jacks as an adult in the genus Carangoides and Alectis, having a compressed, oblong body with roughly equal concavity in the dorsal and ventral profiles.

The profile of the head is rather angular, being most steep directly above the mouth, and sloping  subsequently more obliquely to the nape, being more or less horizontal.

Juveniles are more oval to diamond in form and look a lot like juvenile members of the genus Alectis.

The first dorsal fin is made up of eight spines that are completely embedded in the flesh, and the second dorsal fin consists of one spine and 18 or 19 soft rays.

Abdominal and anal fin on a fish is made up of two anteriorly detached spines and one spine and 16 to 17 soft rays.

The flanges in the second dorsal and anal fins of juveniles are elongated, stretching out into long filaments; they are more prominent in juveniles.

Dobe Ulua – Cottonmouth Jack

Dobe Ulua - Cottonmouth Jack

Cottonmouths are typically dark in colour as adults, while juvenile cottonmouths are pale along their sides with six or seven brown, V-shaped markings.

They are called “cottonmouth” because of their whitish mouth and tongue that distinguishes them from other members of their family.

The dorsal fin of the cottonmouth jack has a total of nine spines and twenty seven to thirty two soft rays.

There are only three spines in the anal fin and nineteen to twenty-three soft rays.

Pake Ulua – Bigeye Trevally

Pake Ulua - Bigeye Trevally

As it ages, the bigeye trevally shows a color shift, altering both overall color and body patterns. 

Juveniles are silvery-yellow to silvery-brown in color, and on their sides have five to six dark vertical bands, from which the particular epithet sexfasciatus originated.

The bands fade and become indistinct as they age, and the overall color changes to a silvery blue above and whitish below.

The bars are entirely absent in adults and the dorsal color is a silvery olive to blue green, fading below to silvery white.

In juveniles, with darker tips, the fins are light grey to yellow, becoming darker overall in adulthood, with yellow to black anal and caudal fins and olive to black second dorsal fin.

The tip of the second dorsal fin has a white tip that is distinctive. The bigeye trevally on the upper margin also has a tiny dark opercular spot.

Ömilu – Bluefin Trevally

Ömilu - Bluefin Trevally

On the underside of the fish, the upper body of the bluefin trevally is silver-brassy, fading to silvery white, often with blue hues.

Blue-black spots appear on the fish’s upper sides after they grow to lengths greater than 16 cm, and they are more intense with age.

There is no dark spot on the operculum. The name of the species derives from the color of its dorsal, anal and caudal fins, which are electric blue and are diagnostic.

The pelvic and pectoral fins are white and there is a yellow tinge on the pectoral fin. Juvenile fish do not have bright blue fins, just dark fins, with the exception of a yellow pectoral fin.

Dark vertical bars are sometimes shown on the sides of juvenile fish.

Ulua pa‘opa‘o – Golden Trevally

Ulua pa‘opa‘o - Golden Trevally

It is the colour of the golden trevally that is the most conspicuous distinction of the fish, for which it gained its common names.

Juveniles have a bright golden yellow color all over their body, with 7 to 11 vertical black stripes everywhere.

These bars usually vary between wide and narrow.

There are dark tips to the caudal fin lobes and there is a prominent black edge to the operculum.

The body of the fish becomes more silver as it develops, and the dark bands fade or vanish, replaced by dark blotches.

The fins, sometimes with greenish tinges, remain yellow. Often, with age, the dark edge of the operculum disappears.

Papa Ulua – Yellowspot Trevally

Papa Ulua - Yellowspot Trevally

The juveniles of the yellowspotted trevally have an evenly silver upper body that slowly develops a brighter blue green hue with increasing age.

Many tiny golden to brassy spots occur above the midline at maturity, with large individuals often having three irregular, indistinct dark blotches on the flank.

The operculum generally shows an inconspicuous dusky spot.

With the anal fin having a whitish-blue leading edge and distal margin, the dorsal and anal fins are dusky yellow.

Olive-yellow are the pectoral and caudal fins, being dusky at the tips, while whitish-blue is the pelvic fin.

Buta Ulua (butaguchi) – Thicklipped Jack

Buta Ulua (butaguchi) - Thicklipped Jack

The Buta Ulua aka Butaguchi / Thicklipped Jack (Island Jack) has a light blue-green above, being more silvery below, with adults having some rather broad, elliptical, yellow to brassy spots scattered close to the midline on their bodies.

From the head to the caudal peduncle, there may be 9 or 10 dark vertical bars on the body. The light brownish- to bright-blue are the soft dorsal, anal, and caudal fins, with all other fins being light green to hyaline in color.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many species of trevally are there?

There are at least 23 species of Trevally found along Australia’s east coast.

Can you eat ULUA?

Yes, you can eat ulua. However, there is a chance of ciguatera. The meat is dry and tough. ULUA not over 10″ will contain a lot of bones.

What is the best bait for ULUA?

Live fish or cut bait can attract GTs, but fresh octopus is the best bait for ULUA.

When does a papio become an ulua?

When a “Jacks” becomes 10lbs or more, it is considered an ULUA. When it is under 10lbs it is known as a papio.

What Kind of fish is an ULUA?

Also known as the low trevally, barrier trevally, giant kingfish or ulua, the giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis) is a species of large marine fish listed in the jack family Carangidae.

Bottom Line

There are many different types of ulua and not just one. They are fast-swimming predators, like other carangids, feeding on a number of fish and crustaceans.

Juvenile ulua, also known as Päpio, seem to live near shore, but relocate to deeper water as they get bigger and become known as “ulua”.

They are a common game fish in Hawaii and are usually delicious, but should exercise caution when eating ulua because they are frequently cross-contaminated with ciguatera.

This fish employs various hunting tactics to catch fleeing prey, such as getting in front of monk seals as they swim away, and also using sharks for ambushing their prey.

More Info:

What fish to target during winter?

hawaii mulisha logo

Visit our sister company Hawaii Mulisha and use coupon code “ULUA” for 15% off your entire order.

Fishing Backpacks

Piscifun Fishing Tackle Backpack

Fishing Lures

Capt Jay Fishing Jig

Fishing Reels

Fishing Rods

OKIAYA COMPOSIT 30-80LB Saltwater Big Gamer Roller Rod

ulua shirt

top picks fishing rod

top pick fishing reel

top pick speargun

top pick crossbow

abu garcia















Related Posts

Giant Trevally

Giant Trevally

Prepare to be captivated by the powerful and agile Giant Trevally, a top predator in tropical waters – its prowess will leave you in awe.

Giant Trevally World Record

Giant Trevally World Record

Dive into the depths of spearfishing history with the astonishing Giant Trevally world record, setting the stage for an epic tale of skill and triumph.

Giant Trevally Vs Jack Crevalle

Giant Trevally Vs Jack Crevalle

Hone your knowledge on the differences between Giant Trevally and Jack Crevalle, uncovering unique traits and behaviors that will leave you hooked!