Onaga is one of Hawaii’s fish better known by its Japanese name than by its Hawaiian name, ula`ula koae. It is also called ruby snapper or scarlet snapper, due to it’s brilliant red color. Onaga have a unique profile with distinctive caudal fins that end in long, slender points.
Onaga has clear, light pink flesh similar to that of the opakapaka but somewhat softer and moister. Fish caught during the winter months seem to have a higher fat content than those caught in the summer; hence onaga yield the best sashimi during the winter season.
Most of the onaga caught off the Hawaiian Islands range in size from 1 to 18 pounds. Harvested exclusively with vertical hook-and-line gear, this bottomfish is caught in deep waters at 600-1000 feet. Learn More.
Fishermen use rods and reels to catch six species of snapper and one species of grouper that are called “bottomfish” and nicknamed the “deep 7” because they live at the bottom of the sea around the Hawaiian archipelago. Each vessel has two to four weighted mainlines that are lowered and raised with reels to depths of 1,200 feet. Baited hooks branch off this mainline. This fishing method is similar to those traditionally used by native Hawaiians.