December 24, 2019

Your Guide To Fishing In Hawaii


Aloha and Welina (welcome) to the beautiful paradise that is Oahu, Hawaii, a place where “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” And this shows in various ways; from the friendliness of the people to the incredible weather that these islands have been blessed with. It is no wonder that Hawaii is the leading destination when it comes to tourism-related activities.

Of those activities, and probably the one that is bringing you all the way to Oahu, is some spot of fishing. And when we say a spot of fishing, what we really mean is taking part in an activity that the inhabitants of this island have been doing for more than five thousand years.

Hawaiians are world renown people for their fishing and navigational skills, and there’s a reason for this. If there is any land in this world that was blessed with the abundance of fishing spots, and diversity of fish, it’s the islands of Hawaii. Not just one or two, but all of them.

Oahu is one of those blessed islands. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Island and are looking for something relaxed, Oahu is the island for you. It is blessed with a ton of fishing spots and sports, you won’t be able to exhaust all of them.

We make you a promise though, we will take you to the best fishing spots that the island has to offer, and a chance to swim and snorkel in crystal clear waters. You will weep and the beauty that God blessed the people of these beautiful islands with.

Before embarking on a fishing trip though, there’s quite a lot you need to know about fishing in Hawaii and Oahu in particular. Let’s get down to brass tacks on your guide to fishing in Hawaii…




Hawaiians, being a people that relied on fish to feed their communities, have always had regulations around what goes on around the fish they catch. From the ancient system known as the Kapu, this was a code of conduct that dictated life on the islands of Hawaii until they were abolished by King Kamehameha III.

In their place though, came a series of modern rules and regulations that surrounded fishing activities. This was mainly to protect the fish themselves and the ecosystems that surround the fish. Certain fish are only found in certain areas of the island. To protect from over-exploitation, these rules and regulations should be followed to the letter.

Fishing as an activity is a tradition of the people of the island. This means that if you want to fish in salt waters as an individual, there really aren’t any licenses you need to get from the authorities.

Some areas such as the Waikiki-Diamond Head shoreline is only open to fishing in even years. That means it was open to fishing in 2018 but closed in 2019. That’s one way to protect the fish population and ecosystem in one of the most popular places on the island.

Below are some of the areas of Oahu island with the regulations that have been placed on them as provided by the Division of Aquatic Resources of the State Government of Hawaii.

  • Waikiki-Diamond Head Shoreline: As already mentioned earlier, this area is only open to fishing on even-numbered years. One can fish any form of marine life provided only a variety of methods are used. These are hook and line, hand net hand harvesting, spearfishing among others. Spears are only permitted in the area from 6 AM to 6 PM.
  • The Hawaii Marine Laboratory Refuge on Coconut Island: This area is totally off-limits to fishing, no matter the time of year.
  • He’eia Kea Wharf: Fishing is restricted to one line or one line and rod with no more than two hooks. Crabbing is limited to 10 nets and shrimping is with a hand net whose dimensions are not more than three feet in length.
  • Honolulu harbor: This is the main gateway by sea to the island of Oahu. Fishing in this area will require notification to the harbormaster. Fishing will require a commercial license for bait fishing and at times scheduled by the harbormaster. Any form of dragnet fishing is prohibited.
  • Pokai Bay: Pretty much the same requirements as He’eia Kea Wharf.
  • Waialua Bay: Same requirements as He’eia Kea Wharf.

Aside from these, there are also other established reservation areas that are off-limits to fishing. Getting caught in these areas will attract heavy fines.


Weights and sizes.


These laws aren’t just about protecting certain areas from the effects of everyone throwing in a hook with some form of bait, it’s also about protecting the fish from overexploitation in areas where there aren’t that many regulations.

As much as fish in certain areas are protected, it doesn’t mean that they will always stay in those areas, they will always swim to new grounds to feed. It doesn’t matter the size, and here’s where the regulations come in. There is a wide variety of fish around Hawaii and here are the regulations provided for the weights and sizes of the fish you could keep during your activities.


  1. Vertebrates list.


  • Ahi: 3 pounds minimum.
  • Aholehole: Minimum 5 inches.
  • ‘Ama’ama: also known as the striped mullet. Fishing season runs from March to December. The minimum size limit is 11 inches.
  • Awa: Minimum size is 9 inches.
  • Moi: Can only be fished from June to August.
  • ‘O’io: 14 inches minimum size.
  • Uhu: Minimum 12 inches in size.
  • Ulua and Papio: Minimum size is 10 inches for personal use but 16 inches if the intent is to sell. Only 20 can be fished.
  • Kumu: Minimum 10 inches in size.
  • Moano: 7 inches minimum.
  • Moano Kea: A minimum size of 12 inches and only one can be fished.
  • Munu: Minimum size 8 inches.
  • Weke and ‘Oama: Minimum size seven inches and a bag limit of 50.
  • Weke nono: A minimum size of 12 inches.

Other types of vertebrates can also be found on this list as provided by the Department of Aquatic Resources.


  1. Invertebrates list.


  • Ula or spiny lobster: Can only be fished during the season of May to August. The minimum size can only be three and a quarter inches. No spears are to be used and also no females are to be taken out of the seas.
  • Ula papapa or slipper lobster: These have to have a tail width of two- and three-quarter inches. No spears are to be used and they cannot be taken with their eggs.
  • Kona Crab: can only be fished from May to August. The minimum is set at four inches. No spearing, not taking or killing of the females.
  • Sea cucumbers: Commercial fishing for these species is prohibited. The catch per person is limited to 10 per day. In Oahu, the tiger tail sea cucumber can be fished up to a limit of 20 a day, and the yearly limit is set at 3,600.
  • He’e (Octopus, Tako, Squid): Minimum size is set to one pound.

Other invertebrates can be found in this list also provided by the Department of Aquatic Resources.


Getting Down to The Tools of Trade.


  1. Knots

Well, as a fisherperson, whether amateur or professional, you are well aware that fish won’t just come to you like a wonderful doggo expecting a treat that you’re holding behind your back. And unless you are related in some way to Ku’ula-kai and Hina-puku-I’a (Hawaiian fishing legends) or the Atlantean Aquaman, then it’s safe to say you will need to get your skills and gear up to code.

The first of these is the fishing knots you will use. You may know a few already, or if you’re experienced at this, you have a few tricks up your sleeve. If you’re new to this, there are several knots you will need to learn in your deep-sea adventure with us at Island Water Sports Hawaii.

Getting fish out of its stronghold will require some special knots that you will use to set up your lines.  You will need to prepare yourself for the coming battle in trying to get the fish out of the water. If you’re curious enough to want to explore the types of knots you will need, here are some you can learn on your own as your adventure with is beckons.

  • 100% Arbor knot.
  • Alberto knot.
  • Albright special.
  • Aussie Quickie.
  • Australian Plait.
  • Baja knot.
  • Bimini Twist.
  • Bristol Knot.
  • Double Uni Knot.
  • Dropper Loop.
  • FG Knot.
  • J Knot.
  • Non-Slip Loop Knot.
  • Offshore Swivel knot.
  • Slim beauty Knot.
  • Surgeon’s Knot.
  • Surgeon’s End Loop.
  • Uni Knot.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of knots available to you. All you need to do is research on which on is the best for you and the type of fish you’re looking to add to your list of achievements.


  1. Bait


Well, getting to the fish is no easy feat. Aside from being deep inside the water that you can’t stay long in, they are also very cautious creatures. It’s a good thing though that they are constantly on the hunt for something to power their constant movement through the predator infested waters.

And you, as the alpha predator, have come to stamp your authority on the food chain. What better way to lure the fish to you than to use some bait? But that bait has to be the right type if you want to see some results. You could either go for a light or dark bait, depending on what shade the water is in. If you are targeting a specific type of fish, what color is its usual prey? Match that and you get the fish that you want.

Depending on the fish that you’re after, there are several types of bait that you can put to use. These are:

  • Jigs: These are the most common type of bait available. These are usually dressed in feathers, some form of bait or hair and are weighted by lead to ease sinking.
  • Spinners: These are an excellent choice for people starting out in their deep-sea fishing journeys. They are well known for the sound they make when spinning in water. The sound produced is what attracts the fish to it.
  • Spoons: Yes, literally, just with the handles removed and a line attached to it. The curve of the spoon makes for excellent bait as the fluid dynamics cause it to mimic an injured fish, which attracts the bigger predators to it.
  • Poppers: If you don’t mind a little education while you’re taking a relaxing holiday, try the poppers. This type of bait floats along the surface and produces a pop sound. No fish is bright enough to avoid how attractive that sound is.
  • Spinnerbaits: These are made of a lead head with a wire bent to look like the letter V. They add a wrap to add to the enticement factor of the wire.


Again, these are by no means the only form of bait available for you to use. These, however, are some of the most popular forms of bait in use in Hawaii.


Okay, so where are those areas around Oahu suitable for fishing?


Fishing has been central to the life of Hawaiians on every island. Around Oahu, there are famous areas that are utilized for sport fishing. Here are some of the most popular areas.


  1. Kaena Point.


Probably the most famous, and the best place for deep-sea fishing across the whole island, or even Hawaii as a whole. The geography of Hawaii is unique in that the continental shelves are really short, so the drops are quite sheer not a few hundred feet away from the shoreline.

For this location, you may need to charter a boat and carry plenty of food and freshwater, or refreshments. This food will serve you the whole day, and the whole night as you won’t want to leave without something that reminds you of a whale.

Contact us if you would like to have a custom charter and we’ll put together a package that you will find absolutely irresistible.


  1. Waimanalo.


Also known as Makai Pier. If you’re a fan of the TV show Magnum P.I, you may recognize this as the point at which T.C runs his helicopter tour business from. If you’re new to this, you will appreciate this as there are plenty of sardines swimming freely in the water.

The sardines, however, are not the main attraction of this location. It is the Papio. The Papio are apex predators of the Pacific Ocean and feast on anything smaller than them but have enough life to attempt an escape when they land in the vicinity. They are also found all over, from Hawaii all the way to the coasts of Africa.


  1. Kaneohe.


Also known as He’eia Pier, and also as a Mecca for all those who love to net themselves some goatfish (red mullets). Of course, that’s not all. It’s also an attraction for various people who like to learn more about hammerhead sharks.


  1. Waialua Bay Pier.


Probably much more famous for another aquatic activity, this area is not only a surfer’s paradise but also an anglers paradise for the variety of fish that can be caught on this pier. If you’re just starting out, or you have some experience already, this is one place you will enjoy using some live bait.

This pier is famous for the goatfish and Papio that are commonly caught, but those are not the only inhabitants of these waters. You can also catch some barracuda, some lovely giant sea bass and ulua are also common in this area.


Join Island Water Sports Hawaii for the fishing experience of a lifetime out of beautiful Maunalua Bay, Oahu.

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