Fishing the Fifty

My Quest to Fish All 50 States


On May 1st, 2015, eight years and ten days after beginning my state quest, I completed it by catching a 32.5-inch, 18-pound yellowfin tuna off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.  I was in Kauai for my honeymoon so I had many reasons to celebrate.  In fact, the fishing trip was a wedding gift from the number one fan of this website and the best man at my wedding, my dad.


I chose Captain J’s ( because his big fish pictures are unparalleled.  He also offers scenic cruises along the breathtaking Na Pali coast that combine fishing and sight seeing.  We spent the first four hours of the trip looking at gorgeous scenery unlike anything I had ever seen.  Captain Justin and Davey are natives of Hawaii and both offered many interesting facts about the coast’s history and geology.  We saw dozens of dolphins, some flying fish, a turtle, and even a whale spouting.  While the water was too rough for us to snorkel or swim to shore, Justin was able to bring us close enough to touch the sacred waterfalls and see some of the picturesque grottos along the coast.  We spent the next four hours trolling back to the marina.  Only 48 minutes into that part of the trip, Hawaii became the 50th state in which I have caught at least one sportfish.  Shortly thereafter, I caught another, bigger yellowfin tuna measuring 38 inches long and about 28 pounds.  In addition to those two beauties, I caught two mahi mahi (48 inches and 50 inches) and several kawakawa and skipjack tuna.  For four hours of fishing, this was quite an impressive haul.  In addition to being knowledgeable tour guides and fishermen, Justin and Davey are easy to get along with.  When combined with the wildlife sightings and beautiful weather and scenery, this was the perfect end to my state quest.


For tourists seeking to avoid the big city feel of Honolulu, I strongly recommend Kauai.  It is only 553 square miles and only 10% of the island is accessible by road.  It has great hiking trails in the mountains and canyons, and excellent watersport opportunities.  There are also wild chickens all over the island that add to its rural feel.  I cannot wait to return and, hopefully, catch more fish with Captain Justin and Davey.


(Being cautious and not wanting to have to spend another 23 total hours on airplanes, I had booked another fishing trip in Kauai.  The trip was successful from a fishing standpoint, as I caught six mahi mahi, ranging in size from 47 inches to a 51-inch bull, and four skipjack tuna.  However, I liked the guide the least of the more than 60 guides I have fished with throughout America.  He had an off-putting air of superiority and treated my wife and me like indentured servants whose only roles were to catch fish for him to sell at the market, rather than paying customers with whom to share a fishing experience.  He was even reluctant to let me measure the fish that I caught after we returned to the dock.  Fortunately, I had had the amazing trip with Captain J’s the day before, so this trip did not hold any special significance.  In fact, I would have omitted it entirely if it were not for how much fun the mahi mahi were to catch and how awesome they look.)


Welcome to Kaua'i

Kaua'i is full of wild chickens, and some not-so-wild ones like this regular at Kalapaki Beach.

Waimea Canyon

Na Pali coast from the Pihea Trail


Na Pali coast from our helicopter ride

Grotto along the Na Pali coast

Grotto along the Na Pali Coast

Na Pali coast from our trip with Captain J's

My first Hawaii fish, a 32.5-inch, 18-pound yellowfin tuna, that marked the completion of my quest

My second Hawaii fish and largest Hawaii fish by weight, a 38-inch, 28-pound yellowfin tuna

50-inch mahi mahi

The day's catch (before I caught the smaller tuna)

Kalapaki Beach in Lihue

Six nice mahi mahi and four tuna from the trip with the other guide