Regardless of the Hawaiian Island you are visiting, there is nothing more beautiful than the view of Hawaii from the ocean looking back. Fishing is great fun here, but even if you don’t get a strike (which is super-rare), the view of the Hawaiian shoreline and mountains, reefs and sea born traffic, make it worth the money and time to try on your trip to Hawaii.
The fishing off Hawaii remains one of the most consistent and productive resources of the State of Hawaii. Fed continuously by a warm "counter current" rushing toward Hawaii all the way from Asia, thereby creating a resultant long Hawaiian Island's wake. The current traces a watery, fish filled highway, that no doubt helped ancient Polynesian mariners settle the islands of the Pacific, including Hawaii itself. Scientists have long known that waters downstream of Hawaii turn back toward the Hawaiian islands. But they also believed that the reverse current (known as the "Hawaiian Lee Counter Current") dissipated about 300 kilometers downstream. Much beyond that point, they thought, wind and water flowed on toward Asia as if Hawaii had never been.
But recently, while examining data from a NASA Satellite called “QuikSCAT” which uses microwave radar to measure winds near the ocean surface, NASA researchers realized that Hawaii's wake is, in fact, much longer than they thought. Indeed, it stretches nearly 8000 km across the ocean. This current and counter current combine to create an ideal circumstance for Deep Sea Fishing, and also stimulates smaller fish reproduction, which is ideal for shore fishing enthusiasts.
The results for you are very good news for you if you plan to try your hand at Fishing in Hawaii. The prognosis is that the fish will be there – regardless of the time of year you show up. There are specific seasons for certain types of fish in Hawaii, and we will talk about that by individual species.
Fishing Licenses and Permits in Hawaii
Unlike almost everywhere else these days, you do not need a License or Permit to Fish in Hawaii. Only fresh water fishing requires a permit. Ecological care is the mandate in Hawaii, and the rule is never kill what you will not eat.
General Information Deep Sea Fishing Charters
Having fished all over the world, we can tell you that fishing in Hawaii from a charter is no more expensive than almost anywhere else you may seek, and is probably a better bargain comparatively if you are safety and comfort conscious about your trip. The Charter boats here are well equipped, regulated and inspected, and more often than not, run by friendly operators who know the fishing grounds well on their Island and beyond.
The practice in Hawaii is that the fish you catch generally belongs to the boat, so it you are planning on creating a meal, or selling your fish later yourself, you will need to discuss your plans with the operator prior to leaving on your charter. Wholesale fish sales are considered a component of revenue for the Charter boat, thereby creating a scenario where the vessel operators can provide Fishing Charters at a more competitive price to fishermen, who generally just want the pleasure of finding and catching Deep Sea Fish.
Booking your Fishing Charter In Hawaii
From the moment you arrive in Hawaii, you will see promotions for fishing and other various tours on the Islands of Hawaii. Many great bargains exist in these promotional flyers, and you can also find discounts from merchants that line the shore areas and general tourist congregating areas. Travel Magazines, and even your rental car map document may carry ads for fishing charter companies, as will your Resort or Hotel concierge or travel suggestion rack in the lobby.
In Hawaii, it is a great idea though to check out the Charter boats first before you book your charter. You may even discover that you can get a better deal by going directly to the boats and making your bargain in person. Charter Operators are very aware of their bookings, and they may offer you a bargain that does not appear in any publication. Also, you can see the boat for yourself, and assess whether you feel you would be comfortable during your charter.
Fish in the Morning, Afternoon Fishing, or All Day Fishing in Hawaii
Many people suggest that fishing in the morning is best… and, sometimes it is good in the mornings. Often the ocean surrounding Hawaii is calmer in the morning too (because the wind is usually not blowing – yet). But the afternoons can have their own special appeal, and certain species actually habitually come closer to the surface in the afternoon, following the baitfish they eat. So fishing can be good then as well.
Charter Boats in Hawaii general have two Fishing charter(s) they sell per day. One fishing charter for about four hours in the morning, and then another separate fishing charter for about four hours in the afternoon. People who are not accustomed to being on a boat may find they are very tired after about four hours. Hawaii is on the ocean, and things are always moving up and down almost all the time on the ocean. This can fatigue even ardent and dedicated fishermen.
But if you really want to maximize your chances for a catch (especially a Marlin), you may want to budget for an All Day fishing charter. This will give you your best statistical chance for a catch, and most Fishing Charter Operators will find a way for you to “hook something” over the course of a whole day, even if the Marlin are not biting that day.
Sharing the Charter Boat with others
Many of the larger Charter Boats will carry as many as 6 to 8 people in a charter, although 4 seems to be the best if you are looking for a Big Game Deep Sea Fish to hook. There are only so many great trolling spots on any boat, so certain accommodations must be allowed in every Fishing circumstance.
The best advice we can offer is try to line up your fishing group yourself, so you are picking your ship mates, because if you don’t the Fish Charter Operator will pick them for you. You learn quite a bit about people when you get them out on the open water. Sometimes this is a great joy. Other times… not so much!
Tipping the Fishing Charter Captain and Crew
In Hawaii, the Captain and crew expect a tip if you caught a fish. The general expectation rolls around 10% to 15% of what you paid for your trip. Pay the Captain – he pays the crew. Great service may well be worth more, but use your judgment and remember these people are working for a living too.
If you are unhappy with your fishing charter, you have no obligation for a tip.
What should you bring Fishing in Hawaii?
You do need a couple of personal items on the boat, and it is your responsibility to have these items in advance of leaving the dock to start your fishing day.
Sunglasses- A good pair with some UV protection built in. Successful fishing requires that you can see, and squinting all day won’t help.
Sufficient Clothing- The sun on the ocean in Hawaii can be brutal. Not only does it shine down directly when you are on deck, but it also shines up from the water back at you. Long sleeves shirts are suggested, and a good hat with a brim can help keep the sun off your brow. Also, mornings can be cool before the sun gets going so you might want a windbreaker for insulation.
Sun Block- Factor 50 for all your tender spots that have access to the direct sun. Plan on tanning when you get back to the beach or shore and you can control your exposure to the sun.
Food- Some boats provide a lunch or snack, but you will be amazed how hungry you might get on the water. You are burning calories out there way faster than onshore. Bring something fun for your tummy.
Seasickness Pills– Well, some people need them – but read the label first. They have to be in your system already to do you much good. That means you may want to start taking them the day before you go out. Stay away from the pills that can affect your vision, or that make you sleepy. Also, eat only items that always agree with your constitution before you go. Otherwise, the fish say “Mahalo” for the snack.
Aspirin, or whatever you take for a headache- It is very common to get a Hawaiian headache after you have been out for about two hours on the open ocean fishing. Unaccustomed stress + bright sunshine + lessened hydration = A headache. Drink plenty of water, take two headache tablets and you should be good to go. If that fails, close your eyes and keep out the sunlight for about 10 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
What the Fish Charter provides for you
A safe, durable and reliable vessel to fish from. A knowledgeable crew that are accustomed to fishing in Hawaiian waters. Fuel for the thirsty fuel tank and engines. Lifesaving equipment such as required floatation, and some medical supplies if needed. Drinking water sufficient for four hours. Food, if it is part of your fishing charter contract. And last but not least, fishing tackle including rods, reels, baits, lures, and advice about how to use them to catch the fish of your lifetime off lovely Hawaii.
What kind of Fish do you want to catch?
As mentioned earlier, some species are more frequent in certain seasons than others, and some fish are migratory in nature – so they may not live in Hawaii year round. We have compiled a short list for you to consider as you plan your Hawaii Fish trip:
"Catch and Release" Hawai'i Style