Deep Sea Fishing in Honolulu, HI
Anglers the world over flock to Oahu for a chance to revel in the deep sea fishing Honolulu is famous for. Here you can hook into a variety of Billfish including Sailfish, Spearfish, and three kinds of Marlin. Add to that a list of sought-after names including Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo, and you might never leave!
What to Catch and When to Target it
The star of Honolulu’s deep sea fishing scene is Blue Marlin. You can target this species all year, with the potential to land a grander Blue (1,000+ lbs) at any time. Some of the largest Marlin are caught within just a few miles of shore. Other Billfish off the coast of Honolulu include Striped and Black Marlin, Sailfish, and the Pacific Shortbill Spearfish.
An equally sought-after prize is Yellowfin Tuna (also called Ahi, though some use this term in reference to all local Tuna species). Yellowfin Tuna usually swim past Oahu from June through September, but in some years they appear as early as March. If you fish near Waianae on the west coast of Oahu, you can be the first to target Yellowfin as they head toward the island.
You can catch Bigeye, Skipjack, and Kawakawa Tuna (a close relative of the Skipjack) year-round. Skipjack Tuna peak from June through August, whereas you can land a large Bigeye Tuna by trolling lures in winter. Kawakawa Tuna is never abundant, but the possibility of hooking into one is always open. Albacore Tuna show up in late July and stay until October. Most fishing for Albacore is commercial, conducted at night when this species comes to the surface to feed.
The deep sea fishing Honolulu has to offer doesn’t end there. Mahi Mahi, Ono (Wahoo), large Sharks, and a variety of bottom fish are biting throughout the year. Your chances of catching a Mahi Mahi are good all year, but this fish tends to peak in April or May and again in October. Ono is most prevalent from June through August.
How to Fish
You can target most of Honolulu’s deep sea game fish by trolling. Local anglers use various methods based on what they know to be tried and true. Their techniques often combine modern technology with traditional methods and tricks from Hawaii and various countries in the Pacific.
Trolling for Billfish
Many local anglers troll for Marlin at high speed (8-12 knots) using plastic lures. Hawaiian fishermen pioneered this technique in the mid 20th century and it continues to work for them.
You can target Spearfish on light tackle. One method involves trolling hookless teasers to lure the fish to the boat. Once you are able to assess the size of the fish by sight, you can toss in a pre-rigged bait.
Tuna fishing in Honolulu takes on many forms. You can expect to troll for most Tuna species, using anything from live bait or cut bait to birds, lures, shell lures, and octopus skirts.
When Yellowfin Tuna are hungry, a pack of them might attack a spread of 4 to 5 lines. On the other hand, there are times when the Tuna will not bite at all.
Tuna fishing specialists are known to use streamlined jet-style lures skirted with plastic tails in color combinations such as pink, yellow, and brown or silver, green, blue, and yellow. Lures are rigged with nylon instead of wire, and armed with a single tune-bend hook. Local anglers troll these lures at 10-12 knots.
If you come aboard for an overnight trip to target Albacore Tuna, you are likely to target this species by drift fishing at night when they emerge near the surface. Anglers lure Albacore to the boat using lights and chum. You might hook into an 80+ lb fish using this method.
You can target Kawakawa Tuna by trolling, jigging, or baiting. Though less common to catch than other Tuna species, Kawakawa is an aggressive feeder and will bite whatever you have in the water when he swims by.
Mahi Mahi and Ono
You can usually find Mahi Mahi near drifting objects or flotsam. When the time is right, you could even reel in 20-100 of these feisty fish. The biggest Mahi Mahi usually bite while anglers are trolling lures for bigger game fish like Marlin. However, the most thrilling method is to chug popping plugs on casting gear.
Mahi Mahi tend to like buoyant, level-riding plugs. Many local anglers use surf board material to create the right effect.
The Ono in Honolulu average 20-40 lbs. You can target these fish along nearshore ledges by trolling with working jet lures, leadhead jigs, and skirted plastic lures.
Many Honolulu deep sea fishing charters also give you a chance to bottom fish for something scrumptious. Swimming in the deep sea around Oahu are the likes of Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, Barracuda, and Trevally.
The Amberjack and Trevally in these parts can reach over 100 lbs in size, while the Barracuda can reach up to 80 lbs. Dropping jigs or whole baits 400-600 feet below will help you reel in any of the above. Snapper and Grouper have an appetite for hooks baited with strips of squid.