There are many ways to enjoy the pristine, abundant waters of the Hawaiian Islands. Snorkeling, perhaps, is the most popular activity, where guests can have an up-close encounter with Hawaii’s marine life, but for those who are not exactly into swimming in open water, another way to have a fun ocean adventure is to go fishing! Deep sea fishing is another leading water activity in Hawaii, where travellers can have a thrilling time hauling their fish catch, or just spend a relaxing day in the middle of sea. With ocean waters teeming with different varieties of fish, this activity is definitely something you’d want to try when travelling to Hawaii. 

Read on to trace the history of Hawaii deep sea fishing, discover the varieties of fish available in the Hawaiian waters, and just learn more about this fun and relaxing activity!

A brief history of Hawaii deep sea fishing

As they say, to further understand and appreciate something, it is best to go back and study its history. As for Hawaii deep sea fishing, it can be traced back to the practice of ancient Hawaiians, when fishing held a central role in their daily lives. Several years back, it is mainly from the seas where ancient Hawaiians drew their sustenance. While they did hunt on land, seafood was really the primary protein in the Hawaiian diet, which they partnered with vegetable staples like sweet potato and taro. Fortunately, the seas of Hawaii are just so abundant with different kinds of ‘ono’, or delicious, fish, that this is the usual Hawaiian meal up to the present.

Because the ancient Hawaiians benefit a lot from the sea, it was their tradition to maintain a personal and more spiritual relationship with it. They studied the ocean extensively, and they honed their diving and fishing skills, while making sure that they did so safely. With unique fishing implements such as basket traps, creative lures, hooks, and lines, ancient Hawaiians were able to master the craft of locating, trapping, and catching fish without causing harm and damage to the ocean. They truly showed high regard for deep sea fishing that their literature, in fact, has a lot of fishing stories that celebrate the great fishers of their time, like the tales of the famous Ku’ula-kai and Puniaiki. Such collection of Hawaiian fishing stories is still told and shared until now, which just shows how much they value deep sea fishing and how deeply ingrained it is even in their present culture. Thankfully, too, the ancient Hawaiians took great care of and showed deep respect to the seas, that Hawaiians of today, plus travellers like you, get to enjoy clean waters, abundant with many sorts of fish and other marine life.

The variety of fish available in Hawaii’s waters

Travellers who opt to go deep sea fishing can expect different kinds of fish to catch, which guests have the option to “catch and release” or taste one hot off the grill, subject to local laws and the guidelines and inclusions of your chosen fishing charter. One of the most common species is the marlin, or a’u as it is locally called, which can get as heavy as 1,600 pounds. Because of its weight and its natural instinct to put up a fight when hooked, the battle to bring in this fish is a great challenge, which is why it is highly prized by sport fishers.

Another fish known to be abundant in tropical waters such as that of the Hawaiian Islands is the ahi, or the yellowfin tuna. If you’ve tried, or at least have heard of, the Hawaiian poke bowls, it is the yellowfin tuna that is usually the main ingredient of this famous native Hawaiian cuisine. This fish is highly valued for flavorful meat, both cooked or in sashimi as in these poke bowls, so it is often sought after by fishermen and even travellers on charters. Besides this tuna type, you can also find the skipjack tuna, locally referred to as aku. Just as flavorful as the yellowfin tuna, the skipjack tuna’s flesh is oily and dark, preferred to by those who enjoy the taste of mackerel. Skipjacks are teeming in the Hawaiian waters, most especially in the Oahu area.

The dorado or mahi-mahi is the fish usually associated with Hawaii, as it is always featured in its local cuisine. Any neighborhood restaurant would most probably have this on the menu! Its flash is tender, flaky, and very tasty and flavorful, especially when done the Hawaiian way, so this is another prized fish catch. Good thing there are lots of them in the Hawaiian seas!

There are certainly lots more fish varieties that you can expect when you go deep sea fishing, like the sailfish or the ono, also called the wahoo, and this is typically dependent on which of the main Hawaiian islands you plan to visit and when you plan to visit. Fortunately, wherever and whenever you decide to go deep sea fishing in, there will surely be reliable fishing charters that will take you to a thrilling fish catching adventure!

Famous spots for Hawaii deep sea fishing

The Kona Coast in Big Island is probably the most popular destination for deep sea fishing, as it has a huge ocean drop-off that measures thousands of feet to the ocean bottom, located not too far from the shore. Kona’s deep waters, also referred to as the “Grander Alley”, are noted to be teeming with large marlins, weighing over 1,000 pounds! Other big game fish varieties in the area include sailfish, tuna, and the mahi-mahi, which are the frequent daily catches of local fishermen. This part of Hawaii is truly deserving of the label “fishing mecca” because of the abundance of fish in the area, so if you are headed to the Big Island, you might as well try catching some!

In Oahu, deep sea fishing is usually done in the island’s leeward coast. Not far off the coast of Waikiki, there is a sharp drop-off where fishermen head to to catch big fish. In fact, this island of Hawaii has recorded a really large fish catch just near Ko’Olina — a blue marlin weighing more than 1,800 pounds! With its waters teeming with these types of enormous fish, Oahu has a lot of charters to choose from so you can try deep sea fishing. 

Kauai Island is also a great spot for deep sea fishing because of its natural underwater topography. There are deep water areas just close to the shore, so fishing charters can bring their guests for a fun fishing adventure in no time. Most of these charters in Kauai depart from Nawilwili on the south shore, and from there, it takes just a few minutes to be in the fishing grounds! 

While Maui Island has a period called the “golden zone” (from the month of May to June) wherein the most famous types of big game fish are most likely to be caught, the rest of the year is still a good time to go fishing in this part of Hawaii. Mostly done on the leeward part of the island, deep sea fishing is offered by several Maui fishing charters, too, which often depart from Maalaea or Lahaina. From any of these points, it also takes just a few minutes before getting to the Maui seas’ prime fishing spots. 

Some things to remember when fishing

If you want to truly experience the Hawaiian way of life when you visit the island, fishing is the way to go. To the Hawaiians, it is more than just a sport or a hobby. It is a way of life, especially for the native Hawaiian community, as these people still greatly depend on the ocean for their daily sustenance just as their ancestors did. Consequently, there is a certain amount of respect that is expected from guests when approaching the waters and starting to catch some fish. For starters, you may want to read on the local laws, customs, and other regulations that apply in the area. Luckily for tourists travelling to any part of Hawaii, a license is not necessary for recreational deep sea fishing, so you can just go and book that fishing escapade. However, it would not hurt, and would actually be better, to familiarize yourselves by reading up on these rules beforehand. Another tip is to pay close attention to the information that will be shared by the crew on-board, as these people are especially trained to enlighten guests as to what they need to know when catching fish in the waters of their hometown. Of course, after you pay attention, make sure to actually apply them, too! 

This is not to say, though, that because it is more than a pastime to the Hawaiians, it is improper to actually try and do it recreationally. The Hawaiians would certainly want you to experience how fun this activity is! Deep sea fishing is a thrilling adventure, especially when done appropriately, and it will surely give you a taste of the island lifestyle. Go and get fishing!

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