How to Catch Opah: The Complete Guide

March 31, 2021

How to Catch Opah: The Complete Guide

Opah are an interesting species and can only be targeted off a boat, out in the open ocean. The best time of year to target this fish is in the summer and early fall. The best time of the day to target them is the first couple of hours before sunrise and the last couple of hours before sunset (twilight hours). But do you know how to catch Opah?

You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll go over the best practices on how to catch Opah. Let’s jump in.

How to Catch Opah: Quick Start

The most successful method is fishing deep, with a fast sinking and heavy metal jig. Although Opah can be spotted near the surface, generally, they are located in deep open ocean water. There are numerous other types of spoons and deep-diving hard-body lures that one could also try to target this species.

Opah are known to school with Big Eye Tuna and Black Marlin, so there is a slight possibility you could catch one by trolling at low-mid speeds.   

How to Catch Opah: Best Bait for Opah

Opah aren’t fussy eaters and feed on various small fish that fishermen can locate within their habitat. Many believe that any of these species could be utilized to target Opah. Frozen Mackerel is also known to catch Opah, particularly by longlines targeting Big Eye Tuna.

The best bait, however, is squid, they make up the bulk of the Opah’s diet. So it would make sense that it is their preferred type of bait.

How to Catch Opah: Best Rig for Opah

Opah have virtually no teeth, so a wire or steel leader isn’t necessary. They can, however, get quite large, so a medium-duty rig is required when targeting them.

Attach one end of 60 pound-test fluorocarbon to a heavy-duty 359-degree Swivel, attach the other end to a high carbon premium 6/0 to 8/0 hook. The preferred sinker is a 10-24 ounce in-line Torpedo Sinker. 80-100 pound braid is a popular choice for a mainline when targeting Opah.

If you want to use artificial lures, check out our guide on the best lures for Opah.

How to Catch Opah: Best Reels for Opah


Daiwa Saltist Star Drag Saltwater Reel


The Daiwa Drag Saltwater Casting Reel is one of the best reels on the market. Manufactured from quality aluminum and offers a right-hand reeling orientation. It offers an impressive 17-25lb Maximum Drag Pressure and is well suited for braid.

This premium fishing reel features an Anodized Finish, which results in Greater Corrosion Resistance. The Daiwa Saltist Star Drag Saltwater Casting Reel features 4 x Quality Crbb Ball Bearings plus an additional Roller Bearing.


Shimano Torium 30 HGA Saltwater Star


Shimano have created an excellent reel in the Torium 30 HGA Saltwater Star. It is made from premium stainless steel, offers a left-hand orientation, and has a weight of just 1.9lb. It is equipped with a high-efficiency gearing system.

This system delivers exceptional strength, rigidity and greatly ensures years of reliable fishing. The Shimano Torium 30 HGA Saltwater Star offers specially treated anti-rust bearings. These bearings promote smooth even flow and are ten times more corrosion-resistant than standard bearings.

It features a maximum drag capacity of 24lb, a 6.2:1 gear ratio, and three ball Bearings plus an additional Roller Bearing. This quality reel features a Cross Carbon Drag system. This system provides long-lasting smoothness to withstand powerful runs from large fish.

How to Catch Opah: Best Rod for Opah


Shimano Grappler JS4


The Grappler Type Slow J S4 from Shimano is a saltwater casting, jigging, or trolling fishing rod. It is 6’8″ in length and is categorized as a Powerful Medium-light fishing rod with Moderate Action. Catching power is enhanced with a Spiral X Construction. This construction consists of three layers. It consists of an inner and an outer layer plus a middle layer of vertical Fibres.

The inner and outer layer is composed by tightly wrapping carbon tape around the blank in opposite directions. Spiral X achieves enhanced compression rigidity and increased torsional rigidity by using carbon tape instead of a conventional horizontal fiber sheet.

This method doesn’t add any additional weight. Using diagonally-wrapped carbon tape allows the hi-power construction to form an array of “X” shapes on the blanks outermost layer. The winding angle, the tape’s width, and part of the wrapped rod are meticulously calculated, depending on the type of target species.

The Spiral X construction allows Shimano to fine-tune these wraps for precise actions, enhanced durability, and additional twist resistance. Hi-Power construction delivers crisp and sharp control and features a Fuji Reel Seat. It’s a great option for Opah, Dogtooth Tuna, and California Yellowtail.


Are Opah Endangered?

There isn’t that much known about this interesting species. But populations appear to be stable. This is mainly because Opah has no commercial value and, therefore, isn’t targeted by commercial fishermen. When they are caught, it’s considered a by-catch as the fishermen are generally targeting Tuna or Marlin.

Can You Eat Opah?

Yes, you definitely eat Opah. Biologists have found that different parts of the Opah taste and even look different. The upper part of the fish tastes like a cross between Salmon and Tuna and looks almost identical to Tuna. Opah can be eaten raw, grilled, smoked, and baked.

What Does Opah Taste Like?

Opah can be described as having a distinctive flavor that is not overpowering. The flesh has a firm and fatty texture with a creamy taste. It is often described as a cross between Swordfish and Tuna.

Tasty Opah Recipes

Seared Opah with White Wine and Tomato-Garlic Butter

Ingredients

  • 3 x Fresh Opah fillets
  • 3 x Fresh Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 1 x Pound Unsalted Butter (cut into cubes)
  • 2 x Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 x Tablespoons White Wine
  • 1 x Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 x Tablespoons Fresh parsley (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 250 g Parmesan Cheese (shredded)

Tomato Base

  • 2 x Shallots (minced)
  • 1 x Pound Ripe Tomato
  • 4 x Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

Directions for Tomato Garlic Butter

  • Using the tip of a small knife, gently remove the core of the tomato
  • Lightly score the skin of the tomato by slicing an X with a sharp knife
  • Blanch the Tomatoes for 10 seconds (place into rapidly boiling water)
  • Remove Tomatoes and immediately place into a bowl of ice or under cold running water (this will immediately stop the cooking process)
  • Slice Tomatoes in half, remove seeds, and then peel
  • Roughly chop Tomatoes into small cubes
  • Gently cook the Shallots for 5 minutes in butter and Tomatoes, remove before they become discolored

Cooking the Fish

  • Bring a medium-sized skillet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil to medium heat
  • Season the Opah fillets with salt and pepper
  • Cook on each side for about 4 minutes (do not overcook)
  • Remove the fillets the from skillet and add Garlic, Lemon juice, and White Wine
  • Cook on medium heat and reduce the base until most of the liquid has evaporated (stirring constantly)
  • Lower the heat and add butter one cube at a time (stirring constantly)
  • Remove from heat and add Seasoning and Parsley
  • Serve and Enjoy

Opah Habitat and Lifecycle

Opah is an interesting species with not much known about them. They can be located in the North-Eastern Pacific and the Mediterranean Sea. Opah are also known as Moonfish, Kingfish, and Sunfish. Although there have been rare sightings of them inshore, they spend most of their lives out in the deep open oceans.

They can be described as compressed, deeply keeled, discoid fish with a deep orange-red coloration. The belly is rosy with white spots on the flanks, and the body is covered with tiny cycloid scales. They are solitary fish but are known to school with Billfish and Tuna (big-eye). Opah are often caught as a by-catch when commercials are targeting these lucrative fish. 

The best way to target Opah is from a boat out in the open ocean. There is a chance you can catch Opah while trolling, but the most successful technique is vertical jigging. Opah aren’t fussy and will eat just about anything.

They eat various smaller fish, but their diet is mainly made up of Squid and Krill. Frozen and live Mackerel is known to catch Opah, but the best bait to target them with is squid. The best lure to use is a heavy, fast-sinking metal jig.

Opahs are known to spend most of the time in deep water (50-1000ft), so you will need to get your lure down to them. The best time of the year to target Opah is in the summer months and early fall. The best time of the day to target them is the first few hours after sunrise and the last few hours before sunset (twilight hours). 

More on Opah

Opahs are commonly known as Sunfish, Kingfish, and Moonfish. They are a member of the genus (Lampridae) and are large, deep-bodied, and colorful pelagic fish. Opahs can be described as a compressed, deeply keeled, discoid fish with a deep orange-red coloration. The belly is rosy with white spots on the flanks, and the body is covered with tiny cycloid scales.

They can be found in the North-Eastern Atlantic, including the Mediterranean Sea. Opah can achieve lengths of 2m (6.6ft) with a weight of 270kg. They are presumed to spend their entire life out in the open ocean, at depths of 50ft-1000ft.

They are solitary fish that are known to school with Tuna and Billfish. Opah will eat other species of small fish, but the bulk of their diet is made up of Squid and Krill (euphausiids). Top predators include Mako Shark, Great White Shark, and Humans.

Conclusion

Opah have no commercial value and therefore are not under threat or showing signs of being overfished. Top predators include Mako sharks, Great White Sharks, and Humans. Opah is an excellent eating fish and can be consumed raw, grilled, smoked, or preserved.

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to catch Opah. 

Happy Hunting!

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