Hawaii doesn’t require any salt water fishing licenses. There are a few “no fishing” areas on all of the islands, but they don’t front the hotels and they’re clearly marked. There really aren’t any restrictions on number of rods, type of bait, etc. etc., here. As long as you release your fish, there are few closed seasons. Most of the rules pertain to nets and diving/spearfishing and sale of the catch, virtually none pertain to hook and line release fishing.
There is no freshwater fishing on Maui (no lakes/streams/rivers with fish in them). Kauai and Oahu have some fresh water fishing.
I do a lot of fishing in the “mudflats” area between Kihei and Maalaea Harbor. It’s fairly close, easy access, not crowded and I can take my dog w/o a leash. It’s on the ocean side of Kealia Wetland/Wildlife Sanctuary. Don’t be tempted to drop a line in the freshwater side, it’s a federal offense. It’s clearly marked. I also fish in and around the Wailea/Makena area.
I don’t fish much down Lahaina/Kaanapali/Napili way, mainly because of the traffic, but there are many areas to fish that way.
GEAR & BAIT
I generally ‘whip’ with a Daiwa BG-13 6#test 6.5′ graphite rod, or a Penn SS 12# test on a 9.5′ Fenwick e-glass. My dunking (bait) rod is a 12′ Ugly Stik w/Shimano Baitrunner holding 17# test.
We use Kastmasters, Rebel windcheaters, Krocadiles, rapalas, scroungers, twister tails, glitter strips, wood egg floats, natural strip and live baits (shrimp, squid, octopus or fish). There aren’t really bait stores, but you can get bait at most supermarkets.
Squid is called ‘ika’ (ee-kah). Ika is a pretty good all around bait and it’s pretty cheap. Foodland and Safeway both carry it. Don’t thaw it in water unless you’ve sealed it a no-leak baggie. It ‘sours’ and the fish don’t like it if it has turned reddish.
Peel the thin membrane from the outside of the body, so it looks very white. Cut it in triangular strips 2-4″ long, 1/4-1/2″ wide, tapering to a point.
You can use the legs to make palu (chum). Chop it very fine and mix in a little cooking oil (the oil in tuna cans is good, if your family uses that type of tuna). Take a small can with a tight snap-on plastic lid and punch a bunch of small holes all over it. Tie the can to a long piece of fishing line (you’re going to throw the can out a few feet up current from where you are fishing. The fishing line is so that you can retrieve the can. Put a small weight in it and put a handful of palu in it. Cheap cat food tuna works, too.
If the wind is directly offshore, you can also float the can. Attache the can to a small piece of wood out or foam. Again, attach a piece of line to the float for retrieval purpose.
The oil and small pieces of ika seep out and help attract fish to the area.
Ika is really freakin’ stinky and the smell kind of sticks to your hands. It stains clothes, too, so don’t where your favorite t-shirt or trunks when you’re chopping the heads up.
What I usually do is prep it all in advance and re-freeze the triangles between small sheets of waxed paper, and small baggies for the palu. Then I just take out enough for the morning/day.
Another good shore bait is aku belly. Ask at the fish counter in Foodland/Safeway. That’s best fresh, it doesn’t freeze/thaw well. Cut it in triangles, leave the skin on.
I probably use a wood egg float w/ a 4′ leader to a single hook and put on a glitter strip or twister tail or strip bait, more than anything else though. It kinda depends where I’m fishing.
Like any other kind of fishing, fish like structure. Work both sides of rocky points on a beach, stream outflows(very few), sharp drop offs etc. Also, obviously, places that require a little more walking/climbing/4 WDrive are likely to be more productive than places that have easy access and get fished all the time. I’d recommend a professional fishing guide if you plan on going to any inaccessible areas.
I grew up here so I don’t really know the english names of all the fish. Papio is a trevally (jack) family – good fighting, good eating. After reaching about 15lbs. they’re called ulua and are the most sought after (record is around 190#). Some guy caught a 563# sea bass here while fishing for ulua from the beach. Moana is a type of goatfish good eating and good bait for ulua. I think, wa’a nui is a snapper?. Don’t know english equiv. of lai – leatherback or something. It’s a good fighter. I ate it in Tahiti and it was good, but nobody here really eats it, we use the skin on lures. Kaku is barracuda. Needlefish called i’i sometimes referred to as ‘poor man’s marlin” ’cause they often jump and tailwalk when hooked. There are also bonefish, milkfish and some others.
Yes, some of them bite, and some have sharp fins/scales, so you should handle them with gloves/care.
As to footwear, do you know what ‘tabe’s” are? They are basically a rubber coated sock with a sole. They’re made in Japan, but available here at any of the stores mentioned. Old tennies/deck shoes work too.
I’d say bring your small spinning rig, 2-8 lbs (think small). Or bring a reel(s) and buy a cheap rod here at Sports Authority or K-Mart. Give it to a kid or leave it in the condo when you leave. It’s cheaper than renting.
Sports Authority is on the same road as the airport, so you have to drive by it , no matter what. A 7′ spl 1100 Ugly Stik costs $29.99 and they have other fairly decent brands even cheaper. I tried one of their SouthBend 6.5’ graphite composition rods awhile back. It felt a lot better than the $18 it cost. They also carry glitter strips, leads, egg floats etc. Long’s Drugs also carries a pretty good assortment of tackle.
“Thanks for advice captain mike. it took a couple mornings to find a spot where the fish didn’t break me off in the coral and rocks, but when i did, i hooked some screamers.
the first morning all i caught were puffers and eels on the shrimp i must have been too close to the bottom with my bait. i tied on a rattle trap that i brought from home, and the very first two casts, two fish on that took off parallel with the shoreline and broke me off. out of time, and out of rattlers, i went home a little discouraged, but happy to have amazingly strong fish on. but what were they, and how could i land one????
the next couple mornings i fished north of the noeloni condos about a mile on the edge of a big beach and a rocky point. i ran a 3-way swivel with about a 4 foot drop on light line to my lead ball which would hang in the rocks/coral. on the 3rd eyelet of the swivel, i tied on a heavy leader about 18-22”, and a long shank hook with bait barbs that held my shrimp in place perfectly when making the gorilla cast to get out as far as possible after wading as far as was safe. the first couple casts, i didn’t FEEL the bait to the bottom, and i lost my shrimp. the next cast, i felt the take as my lead hit the bottom, waited for a two count, and set the hook. the first fish was a big leather skin jack that took off like a torpedo. turning it’s head toward the beach was key to landing him after he stripped about 150 feet of line off my reel. the very next cast, i set the hook too soon as i was a little excited by now, and lost my shrimp and no fish. the 4th cast i hooked a monster bonefish that took about 10 minutes to land after he stripped 150′ (twice)!!! I ended up in front of the next condo units and about 40 vacationers, who cheered me on when i landed him, and another big cheer when i let him go. it was the first bonefish i’ve ever caught. at this point i was already late to catch my plane so i gave my remaining shrimp, 3 way swivels and lead balls to a guy from rhode island who was also fishing, but hadn’t caught anything. he helped me land the fish and took the photos. i hope he caught some fish, but his 6′ rod probably didn’t reach as far as needed, but who knows…thanks again and i can’t wait to come back..
8 1/2 foot ugly stick, 15 lb line, 6 lb drop line (you want this to break off), 20 lb leader. this is my pike and steelhead rod back home. it worked perfectly.
Bad weather cancelled our trolling trip that you had led us too, so we didn’t get to big game fish…
Aloha Capt. Mike,
Also, thanks for the tips on shore fishing. I took a reel and some lures as you suggested – just bought a rod when I got there (gave it to a kid when I left, sure did make his day!). Did best at the mudflats between Kihei and Maalaea near the Wildlife Sanctuary, we caught lots of bonefish on a blue/silver rattle-trap ãbleeding shadä pattern. Never fished for them before, but WOW ö what a trip !! Certainly a fighting fish of the highest order. Once again, my wife had a great time there, which makes the trip all that much better when momma enjoys fishing 😉
A big Mahalo for all your help and great tips. Trust me; anybody that is going to Maui and is even thinking about fishing is getting two thumbs up to call you and definite high marks for the guys on the ACTION.
Greg & Katy L.
Thanks for the info Mike. I had a great time fishing in Maui until my reel busted!!! Couldn’t cast!!. I found a great spot at the very south end of la perouse bay, as far as you can walk on the lava trail, it opens up to a little beach through the trees on the right. If you walk out on the rocky point there are some great spots where the reef drops off a good 20 feet straight down with tons of fish!!! Thanks again!!
I came, I saw, I conquered!
I fished just north of the Royal Lihiana Resort and caught a 5′ needle fish (great fight on 8# test line), several types of grouper (fun fighters – presented some problems getting into the corral, but patiently I eventually won!) and a Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Gosh it is fun to just learn how to say that, even though saying Trigger fish is so much easier!!).
I was casting everything the locals said wouldn’t work (Mn. Walleye, and Northern Pike lures) so it made me feel like I did something special. A silver/blue 1/2 oz Rattle Trap was my hottest bait. I think the grouper loved the sound of the rattles and just hit like freight trains. I also used 7′ Med Action Graphite spinning rod, 8# green Trilene XL line, and 1/2 oz plastic minnows called Storm Lures in Blue or Yellow and caught Needle fish. The 5′ long needle fish hit the Yellow Storm 4″ Minnow. GREAT FIGHT!!!! He burned line like I couldn’t believe. A silver, and a gold 3/8 oz Northland Buck shot Rattle spoon (for ice fishing here) also caught some grouper. I never even broke out a Kastmaster type spoon.
I even had some luck snorkling out and hand line jigging for needle fish and Trigger fish with a small blue and silver rubber bodied jig a local con’ed me into buying.
Everyone on the shore was laughing watching the crazy guy from Mn. – Land of 10,000 lakes catching fish when they had watched locals fish all week and not catch anything. They all really laughed seeing me snorkel out to undo snags on corral, and about died laughing seeing me snorkeling and jigging below me as I swam. BUT I CAUGHT FISH!!!!
Thank you for response. I appreciated it, and it made my trip to catch something. My wife thinks I am her hero! I released everything caught happy, and healthy. I hope someone else gets to share in this wonderful colorful experience!
Saw a ton of whales too….THAT WAS COOL.
Mahalo, (I hope I got this THANK YOU right)
I don’t do this very often, but here is a really accurate older post I found recently. Not sure how I missed it before! The author may have been living in Hilo at the time, but the info is applicable to Hawaii as a whole.
It’s a must read if you plan to fish here on your own.