Oahu fishing charters have a lot more going on than you might expect. Most people know about the island’s huge Billfish and monster Ahi, but you may not realize the bluewaters are only part of the picture. From vibrant coral reefs to sheer white sand flats, anglers battle big fish all around Oahu. Head inland, and you’ll find tropical freshwater fisheries to top anything Florida can offer.
So many fish, so little time! Luckily, there’s plenty to keep the rest of the family busy while you’re off chasing trophies. Hit the beach, learn to surf, or enjoy Honolulu’s endless festivals and great shopping. Learn about Hawaii’s indigenous traditions or naval history, then enjoy some of the tastiest seafood you’ll ever eat. It’s no wonder Hawaii’s “Gathering Place” sees almost five million visitors each year!
Where to Fish in Oahu
If you’re looking for a charter, the best place to start is Honolulu. The city is the center of all activity in Hawaii, and its charter fleet rivals even Kona in terms of the size and number of boats on offer. Break away from the Big Pineapple and you still have plenty of options. Across the island’s sheltered southern shore and even up in Haleiwa and Kailua, boats sit ready and waiting for angling adventures. Wherever you go, you can rely on seasoned captains and huge fish all year round. Here are a few of the spots you may go to find them.
FADs & Bluewaters
The sea floor drops to over 1,000 feet just a mile from shore around Oahu, bringing huge pelagic fish within easy reach even on a half day trip. The best deep sea fishing
Oahu has access to is out at the FADs which surround the island. These floating fish magnets draw a staggering range of species, from Blue and Striped Marlin to Ahi, Ono (Wahoo), Mahi Mahi, and the often-overlooked Shortbill Spearfish.
The bluewater bite is great all year round. Striped Marlin are at their best in spring, but stick around just long enough for their big, Blue cousins to take over the action. Head offshore in May or June, and you could be in with a genuine chance of Billfish Slam. The fish never disappear completely, though, so you never know quite what you’ll find offshore.
If you somehow get bored of the bluewaters, just head to one of Oahu’s many natural reefs. You can target a huge range of species here, including Wrasses, Triggerfish, Trevallies, and more. If you’re after the best food fishing around, drop your baits in search of the “Deep 7”. These are Hawaii’s most sought-after bottom fish, including Snappers, Jobfish, and Hawaiian Grouper. There is a seasonal closure on the Deep 7 which changes every year. It generally runs throughout the summer, when you’re too busy battling Billfish to care.
They may not get the same limelight as Riviera Maya or the Bahamas, but Oahu’s flats are home to some seriously big Bonefish. Most of the fly fishing
Oahu has to offer focuses on these guys, which can weight as much as 15 pounds. You can also find Needlefish, Trevally and Barracuda in these shallow waters, because Oahu’s fisheries are nothing if not varied. The local Bonefish have nowhere to go but the other islands, so this fishery is great all year round.
Lakes & Reservoirs
The freshwater fishing Oahu hides is worth a mention for more than just novelty. This remote island chain has few native freshwater species but a ton of gamefish have been introduced in recent decades. Wahiawa Reservoir and Lake Wilson boast the best action, with Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Peacock Bass, as well as Tilapia, Snakehead, and much more.
Shores & Piers
If you want some great hookups while relaxing with the family on the beach, you have to try shore fishing on Oahu’s beaches. Casting from shore, you can hook Needlefish, Parrotfish, Triggerfish, and more. You don’t need a fishing license, either.
With an all-star cast of big game pelagics and plenty of FADs drawing them to the surface, it should come as no surprise that trolling is popular in Hawaii. Oahu fishing charters troll live Ahi and Aku (Skipjack Tuna) and also use a variety of lures to bring in big fish. Blue Marlin grow to incredible sizes here, so heavy tackle and fighting chairs are essential if you want to stand a chance.
Hit the reefs, and you have two main ways to catch big fish. The shallower reefs offer the best spearfishing Oahu can give, while bottom fishing rules the deeper waters. However you fish, you should be aware that larger reef fish are prone to ciguatera poisoning, and generally aren’t worth the risk to eat. There’s no risk of anyone getting sick from (or eating) Bonefish. These guys are best caught on fly tackle, but can also be fun on spinning gear if you’re more of a conventional angler.
Need to Know
Fishing licenses are not required when fishing on a charter or from shore but you will need one to enjoy Oahu’s freshwater fisheries. Pick yours up online
or get one in person and save a dollar! (Important money-saving advice from FishingBooker.) The reef fish around Oahu are prone to ciguatera poisoning and large fish generally aren’t safe. Your guide will be able to tell you what is good to eat but if you’re fishing from shore you’re best off releasing your catch.
If releasing your fish was your intention all along, you should be aware that all Oahu charter boats split the catch between the clients and the crew. This includes Billfish, which can be kept and sold in Hawaii. Be sure to discuss the fate of any gamefish before you book if you’re passionate about catch and release.