Hawaii Angler Hauls in Massive Octopus Breaking Decades-Old State Record

by Taylor Cunningham

A Hawaiin angler broke a record last month when he reeled in a 25.95-pound octopus. The previous record was set more than two decades ago—by his brother.

Michael Matsunaga caught the massive mollusk by using a squid as bait on August 30th. The angler was fishing the waters at a depth of 400 feet near Turtle Bay. But snagging the creature wasn’t the hard part.

“He has eight legs. I get two arms,” Michael told Hawaii News Now. “I kind of put him in the cooler. But he tried to get out everything. I finally got him in the cooler, and then I had to sit on the cooler because he was kind of lifting [the top] up.”

The 69-year-old’s brother, Stewart Matsunaga, broke the former record back in 2000 when he pulled in a 19-pound octopus near Kaena point.

Reeling in a Record-Breaking Octopus isn’t an Easy Feat

While Michael’s catch set a record for the state, his particular octopus isn’t large compared to others swimming in the oceans. There are around 300 known types worldwide, and some can weigh up to 600 pounds, according to National Geographic.

The animals have been evolving for tens of millions of years and tend to be hard to catch because they’re highly intelligent. They can use tools and work their way through mazes. They also have the ability to match the colors and textures of their surroundings. So they’re capable of outwitting predators, including fishermen.

Some of the larger creatures stay further below the water, usually on the sea floor, where they live off of crabs and shrimp. So an angler’s line wouldn’t reach far enough to even temp the octopus with bait.

Michael Matsunaga, who lives in Wahiawa on Oahu, told Hawaii News Now that he has made a few several gyotaku prints, or stone impressions, of the record breaker since catching it.

Octopus is a staple in Hawaiian cuisine, and Michael plans on dining on his catch in the future. Usually, the animal is served raw in poke bowls. But the angler has other simpler plans.

“Just boil it in beer probably one leg at a time,” he shared. “Hanapaa!”

Interestingly, the expert fisherman doesn’t just hold the state record for the largest octopus catch in history, either. He also beat another record in 2005 when he caught an 11-pound, 6-ounce red snapper while bottom fishing in 930 feet off Kaena Point.