Fishing is more than a sport in Hawaii. For centuries, it has been a means of survival and is deeply rooted in the Hawaiian culture. Even today, there are many Hawaiians who depend on the bounties of the ocean as part of their daily diet. That is not to say that recreational fishing has no place in Hawaii; on the contrary, fishing is a very popular way of relaxing and enjoying the wonders of nature for both local residents and visitors.
Deep sea fishing is the main attraction for those looking to enjoy the open ocean and beautiful seacoast surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. You can find numerous fishing boats that you can charter at any of the small boat harbors found throughout the State of Hawaii. Some of the more popular fishing harbors are: Kewalo Basin and Ko Olina harbors in Honolulu, Ma’alaea and Lahaina harbors on Maui, Honokohau and Kawaihae harbors on the Big Island and Nawiliwili and Port Allen harbors on Kauai. Depending on the size of the boat, a full day of fishing can typically range from a $200 to $1,500 for 8 hours of deep sea fishing. If you are just testing the waters, then it may be a good idea to book a 4 hour half day trip.
Especially if you are after big game, you are not guaranteed to catch anything. Remember that this is called fishing, not catching. Check with the charter boat operator on whether you can keep your catch. Some charters factor in the income from the sale of the catch into their charter costs, so it is important to know that information ahead of time.
The charter boat will usually provide everything you need including fishing gear, tackle, and bait. You will generally have to bring your own refreshments. Some will provide lunch for an additional fee.
The main types of deep sea game that you will be trying to catch in Hawaiian waters if you are trolling are: black, blue and striped marlin, mahimahi (dolphin fish), ono (wahoo), ahi (yellowfin and bigeye tuna) and aku (skipjack tuna). If you are bottom fishing, you most likely will be going for uku (grey snapper), kahala (amberjack) and ulua (giant trevally).
Recreational deep sea fishing in Hawaii does not require a license. Generally speaking, most of the fish that you will be catching have no limits on them. But your boat captain will tell you if there are any as well as fish that you should not eat. For example, because they prey on fish that eat tainted coral, some kahalas are prone to ciguatera, a disease that affects the nervous system.
If you are a novice fisherman or just new to deep sea fishing, there are some things you should keep in mind when considering booking a fishing expedition as part of your Hawaiian vacation. Unlike freshwater fish which are generally smaller and generally do require tremendous effort to land your catch, deep water gamefish, such as ahi or marlin, are relatively large and can take a lot of time and energy to catch.
Let your charter boat operator or booking agency know that you are new to the sport. They will be able to make suggestions and recommendations as to the type of trip you should book to get the most enjoyment out of your outing. Being on Hawaiian waters, which can be rough at times, is definitely not like being on a lake. If you are prone to motion sickness or have never been on a boat, it is highly recommended that you take medication, such as Dramamine, well before you board to prevent motion sickness. This is because if you do get seasick before taking medication, no amount of it will help you after that. There is nothing worse than being seasick on the ocean and is a sure way to ruin an otherwise great day.
Finally, the Hawaiian sun can be brutal, especially to those who are not used to being on the open ocean. Bring and use waterproof high level SPF sunblock. To give your eyes a break, be sure to bring and use polarized sunglasses as it will cut some of the intense glare from the water.