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Kewalo Basin Mounts the Big One

A replica of “Choy’s Monster” 1,805 lb. Blue Marlin fish mount now on display at Kewalo Basin

Yes, we’re talking the largest Blue Marlin Billfish ever caught by rod and reel on record, dubbed “Choy’s Monster” by Captain Cornelius Choy off Oahu in 1970, weighing in at 1,805 pounds. However obviously not the fish itself, but a FISH MOUNT, which is a replica of the landed Marlin, cast and reproduced in fiberglass and resin by Gray Taxidermy, based in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Mahimahi (Bull Dolphin/Dorado x3) fish mounts now on display at Kewalo Basin

I drive by Kewalo Basin daily on my way to and from work, where only in the last few weeks did I notice these beautiful fish mounts propped up in the front grassy area of the harbor, fronting the parking adjacent to the docks lining Ala Moana Boulevard. So today (8.04.15) on my way home from the office I decided to get a closer look at what’s going on here, and it looks absolutely FANTASTIC! LOVE IT!!!

Ono (Wahoo x3 ) fish mounts now on display at Kewalo Basin

So I asked this one super cool gal getting all her gear out of her truck who worked in the harbor if she knew any details about these fish mounts. To which all she could say was that they were up for about three weeks now. She then pointed me to the Harbor Master’s office across the way on the ” Point Panic” parking lot end of Kewalo Basin. So I go there, and the door’s locked, however there’s a phone number. So I call the number, and one of the Harbor Master staff answers. While I didn’t get his name, he was also super cool and told me all he knew about the fish mounts.

Ahi (Yellowfin Tuna x3) fish mounts now on display in front of Kewalo Basin

As it turns out, Howard Hughes Corporation, owner of Ward Village across the street, and mega-devoloper of that portion of Kaka’ako funded the fish mounts for Kewalo Basin, amongst other harbor improvement projects to beautify the area.


As said previously, the fish mounts were sourced from Gray Taxidermy out of Florida. Which had me actually wondering whether former local fish taxidermist and Master Artist Layne Luna, based out of Hilo on the Big Island had done the project. Yet I knew he had retired from doing that, so I kinda’ had a hunch it wasn’t his work, and also by the workmanship, whom both have their own style.

HURRI-AHI-NADO! (OK, that didn’t really roll off the tongue that well lol)

Fish Mounts are typically a heavy-duty (thick) hollow cast made of fiberglass cloth coated with resin (like a surfboard), then artistically airbrushed in meticulous layers with a durable lacquer or urethane-based paint and a clear coat in the common coloration and markings of the species it represents.


While some are sculpted out of clay from “scratch”, most are taken directly from impressions of an actually landed fish, that through a number of intricate steps, creates a mold that can then be “pulled”.

Learn all about how Gray Taxidermy creates a fish mount from the boat to the wall here!…


“Yo’! Yo, buddy! Yeah, you down there… can you pass me the sunscreen?”

“You call me a Barricuda just one more time, and I’ll give ya’ a meat sandwich! Oh snap, I’m a fish…”

For those of you not familiar with fishing tournaments in Hawaii, they typically include four main categories: Billfish, Ahi, Mahimahi and Ono, hence why those fish were chosen for this fish mount display in front of Kewalo Basin. Kewalo Basin is THE harbor for Honolulu’s commercial charter fishing boat industry, as well as other larger scale fishing operations that bring in similar catch.

“Yo’ Jason, I heard Mike Love is playin’ at Mai Tai’s tonight!”

“Wahoo!!!… there’s a sale at Macy’s!”

“Yo’ Mikey! Bruce! RUN!!! RUN!!! Everyone wants to eat us!!!!”

According to the Harbor Master staff person I spoke with, in the next few weeks they’ll be installing lighting to illuminate the fish at night, as well as shrubbery around the base to discourage vandalism, which is my main concern. If I were them, I’d install security cameras there to monitor for any “perps”.

“Psst.. Jason! Jack! There’s a #$#%ing Great White on our 6! On three, hang a left, then blend in with that Roberts Hawaii tour bus and that bonehead will never see us…”

As for fish mounts, back to Master Artist Layne Luna from Hilo, you can still see his AMAZING, incredibly detailed work on Oahu on display up on the wall behind the poke counter at the Kaheka Don Quijote, as well as at both Hanapa’a Hawaii fishing and diving supply locations on Dillingham Blvd. and in Pearlridge Downtown in Aiea.

“All I know, is they better do somethin’ about the birds around here…”

Next time you’re in the Kaka’ako area, check out the new Marlin, Ono, Mahimahi and Ahi fish mounts “swimming” in front of Kewalo Basin. Super-duper cool! Mahalo Howard Hughes Corp.!!!

Panoramic view of Kewalo Basin, Kaka’ako, Honolulu ~ 8.4.15 (click to enlarge and pan with browser)

The Tasty Island related links:

Big Island Eats: Roy’s Smoked Marlin & Smoked Ahi

The Best Poke in Honolulu is at Ono Seafood

9 thoughts on “Kewalo Basin Mounts the Big One

  • August 4, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Yes, those fish mounts are nice but sure would hate to see Honolulu turn into another Singapore.

    • August 4, 2015 at 9:53 pm


      Well then, you might wanna’ see this post (make sure to go through the thumbnail gallery):
      Kaka’ako 2014

      • August 5, 2015 at 7:28 pm

        Really enjoyed the artwork. Thanks.

  • August 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Love them. Hope they are maintained. And how about an Opah?

    • August 5, 2015 at 4:38 pm


      It looks like they designed these fish mount posts to be removable for maintenance, or perhaps an imminent natural disaster (as apparently we’ve dodged yet again). I’m curious if you can get an insurance policy on such “public art” in case they get damaged or stolen. If anything like that becomes a problem, perhaps look into a more durable, permanent long-term material such as formed and welded steel or aluminum (not copper, someone will try to steal that, guaranz). I know those fiberglass fins are rather fragile.

      Opah? Nah, that’s more longline bycatch. I think they wanted to stick with what the charter boats mostly land. Speaking of Opah though, similar to that, my favorite fish to eat cooked by far is Monchong! Da’ best!

  • August 6, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Cool.  I look forward to seeing them next month.  That’s the route the shuttles take from the airport to Waikiki.  I’ll have to remember to sit on that side of the bus so I can get a good look at them!

    My favorite fish is opakapaka.

  • August 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    @ Debbie-chan – Ah, home soon for another visit. Nice. I forget what area you stay at, but if you have a chance to go into Kaimuki, make sure to hit Your Kitchen in Palolo Valley (10th Avenue, turn at Tamura’s) to try their AMAZING Kakuni-Don!….

    Your Kitchen’s famous Kakuni-Don (Braised Pork Bowl) with Panko-battered Ajitama $8.99

    While there, also make sure to try their all-natural Shave Ice!

    I also recommend you try ShAloha on 3rd Avenue (right across St. Louis Drive In). Easily one of the BEST sandwiches on the island! And don’t forget the Pita Chips with Hummus. Awesome sauce!

    @ Erica – You’re welcome. I love your enthusiasm. lol

  • August 6, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Been to Your Kitchen!  How do they make those tempura eggs?  And as good as the kakuni-don was (and it was sooo good!), the shave ice was incredible.  I got mango, and the flavor was so true, it was like eating a pulverized piece of frozen mango.  I want to try to get to Kaimuki Superette and try the he’e roll …  I’m staying in Waikiki.

    • August 6, 2015 at 5:51 pm


      OK, next time I hit Your Kitchen (probably this weekend), I’ll check if they have Mango Shave Ice. Should have, as mango season is peaking now here in Hawaii. Next time you’re in the supermarket, try look for Haagen Daaz Mango Sorbet. I swear, that one also tastes like a genuine, fresh-pulverized Hawaii mango. Ono stuff!

      I did an incomplete review on Kaimuki Superette that I need to go back and finish. I can say, it was really good!

      I probably already recommended this place in Waikiki, and I think you said you went there, however if you haven’t, you gotta’ check out Musubi Cafe Iyasume. They get my vote for BEST Omusubi on the island!


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