Hawaii Shore Fishing

Hawaii shore fishing offers excellent prospects like this bluefin trevally caught by Scott Oshiro off Hawaii's rocky Kohala Coast - Big Island.

Surrounded by water, and having its share of streams, lakes, and reservoirs, Hawaii shore fishing offers a wealth of fishing options which would delight any angler whatsoever. In addition to the conventional methods of fishing Hawaii offers its own brand of fishing techniques passed on from the native Hawaiians who not only harvested but also cultivated their marine resources!

First and foremost, Hawaii is a state which does not require a fishing license except for certain freshwater resources like Oahu's Lake Wilson and Nuuanu Reservoir. Hawaii Freshwater Fishing hasn't been as dominant as saltwater fishing but a few dedicated fans like Stan Wright and son, Chris, have been introducing a lot of people to what might be considered world-class feshwater fishing, right here in the islands.

Stan was co-host on Hawaii's original fishing show, Let's Go Fishing with Bruce Carter, and is an accomplished angler in both and freshwater gamefishing and his son, Chris, proves that such passion and skill can be passed on from father to son!

Perhaps a start to describing Hawaii shore fishing might be to first offer that Hawaii shore fishing is generally accomplished by pole, or net. From these two categories alone, is enough to write a volume of books and, indeed, many great books have been written about Hawaii shore fishing as well as offshore fishing in Hawaii. Here's something to give you a starting point...

Pole Fishing

Using a simple bamboo pole with a hook, line, and sinker, or other hand pole, you can enter one of the most popular Hawaii shore fishing activities -- oama fishing! Most of us who grew up in Hawaii started our fishing careers as kids with these simple rigs catching whatever would bite the hooks we baited with shrimp, squid, or similar fare. However, fishing for oama (pronounced o-wa'-ma) is something you never grow out of.

As you drive along the coast during the summer and early fall, you'll notice groups of people in knee- to waist-deep water fishing in a circle or standing abreast of each other. . .

they're fishing for oama, the juvenile goatfish around seven inches or smaller, which they'll either fry to eat bones-and-all or use as bait for larger game fish like papio (pronounced pa-pee'-o), trevally up to 10lbs, or their over-10lb-siblings, the ulua (ooh-lu'-a!)

Around the same time the oama are running, you might notice large crowds fishing with longer hand poles or small spinning reel & rod outfits.

These folks are generally after halalu (ha-la-lu') or their larger siblings, akule (a-koo'-lay), a type of mackerel.

When the schools are in, you can feel the excitement in the air as folks are poppin' up fish all around while larger predatory fish make occasional dashes toward the school of smaller fish causing them to scatter and churn the surface of the water!


Here are a few e-books that will definitely add to your fishing experiences not only in Hawaii but anywhere that touches the ocean... and you can download them, right now!

Dolphin (Mahimahi) Fishing Techniques

Surf Fishing

Making Fish Lures

Advanced Secrets of Tuna Fishing

How To Make Wooden Lures

The abundance of reef fish accessible by your simple hand pole makes it impossible to predict what you'll be pulling up. But the oama, halalu, and akule are those that are pursued intentionally season after season.

Any fishing supply (not the department stores that sell fishing supplies) can help you with the selection of your equipment to use for your hand pole adventures in Hawaii! You'll also find that the typical fishing supply stores in Hawaii are multi-generational family businesses and spending time in these stores is almost as fun as the fishing itself!

Once you add a reel to the pole, you've entered a world of fishing that can range from the ultra-light to the extraordinarily big game!

Spinning or whipping, in which you cast out your line with a lure or bait then quickly reel it in is one mode of reel and rod fishing and the other is dunking - casting out a weighted, baited line and simply waiting until the fish comes around to take the hook. Obviously, there are special techniques employed for every fish that folks might be after.

Spinning or whipping are popular Hawaii shore fishing techniques. Here, a fast retrieve spinning reel using a lure or bait might yield anything from papio and ulua to oio (o-ee'-o) bonefish, and barracuda. Every one of these offers a fight that 's truly addicting and one experience with any of these will definitely motivate you to keep on casting and reeling for a long, long time.

Fly-casting hasn't been all that popular in Hawaii shore fishing but, slowly, we're seeing more and more fly casters pursuing these popular fish many of whom are seeing some great results!

Here's a bit on Hawaii Fly Fishing. Check it out!

A friend of mine, Oliver Owens, operates Shoreline Adventures and specializes in taking folks out to the different flats and shallows on the different islands in pursuit of Hawaii Bonefishing, papio (trevally), kaku (barracuda) and other predatory reef fish.

Ollie is a Catch & Release advocate and a guy you'll love as much as the fly/light tackle fishing experience he offers! So look out, Florida! Ollie's gonna make Hawaii shore fishing the big buzzword in bonefishing!

Over on the island of Molokai, Captain Clay Ching shares some spectacular Molokai Fishing as well as bottom- and deep sea fishing off his 24' Powercat.

Under the "dunking" category is included surf casting with medium to large-sized spinning reels, as well as those conventional reels like the Penn or Newell 4-0s and 6-0s that can get your bait as far out as possible. While you might be after the same types of fish your spinning and whipping colleagues are after, the difference here is size. As the old adage goes, bigger bait = bigger fish!

Here in Hawaii, the baits of choice seem to be oama, which you already know how to catch, white eel (conger eels), moray eels, octopus, or squid. Shrimp is simply too soft for most surf casting situations and in some areas the fishermen use live fish that are common to the area and part of the regular diet of predatory fish in the area.

I should also mention that reef walking at night or "torching" as we call it with a spear and a lantern is the primary way to get the white eels and octopuses or is it octopi? Note that the preferred octopus for bait is the "day" variety which takes some experience and a good eye to spot on a bottom that resembles the creature's coloration and patterns. These bait-gathering outings are events in themselves and every bit as fun as the fishing!

Folks in some areas of the islands, like the south side of the Big Island where fishing is done from cliffs, employ a technique called slide-baiting. Probably the most extreme of all Hawaii shore fishing techniques, this form of fishing uses the largest of surfcasting tackle with which is first cast out a line with a heavy weight on it intended to get stuck onto the coral bottom. The weight is connected to the main line by a lighter capacity line which is intended to break when a fish is caught.

Throughout the fishing period (most often at night) baited hooks are slid down the main line into the waters below. So, you're probably thinking, what happens when they hook up to a fish, especially one that exceeds a hundred pounds?? Simple! They use a sliding gaff, a gaff without a handle and connected to a long rope and a ring which slides down the main line! When the gaff is slid below the fish, they pull up sharply on the rope to gaff the fish and proceed to pull the fish up. In this manner, these experts regularly land some of the biggest fish in the state including pelagics like mahimahi (dolphin fish) and ahi (yellowfin tuna)! That's right, we haven't even gotten to fishing offshore!


Nets are a popular means of Hawaii shore fishing and the techniques reflect those used by the early Hawaiians. Throw-netting utilizes a circular net with weights around the perimeter.







The net, when cast over the targeted fish, quickly sinks to the bottom and entraps the fish.


then is gathered by hand or by pulling a line attached to the center causing the net to close-in over the trapped fish.

Laynetting is another popular means of Hawaii shore fishing, a technique which uses a rectangular net with floats on the top and weights on the bottom. In the early days, Hawaiians would use extremely long lay nets that would require a great deal of people to pull into shore, a popular and festive activity (a big meal would generally follow the day's catch!) which was called a "hukilau".

Due to the "over-harvesting" of marine life by lay netting and frequent abuse - such as the placement of nets across channels and rivermouths, conservation efforts are leaning toward stricter regulation or even the outright ban of laynets. Unfortunately, many of today's fishermen in Hawaii do not follow the conservation practices and efforts of the native Hawaiians that preceded us.

Hawaii, with it's many different species of marine life, ideal water conditions, and shoreline access is a fishermens' paradise!

Here are a few e-books that will definitely add to your fishing experiences not only in Hawaii but anywhere that touches the ocean... and you can download them, right now!


Dolphin (Mahimahi) Fishing Techniques

Surf Fishing

Making Fish Lures

Advanced Secrets of Tuna Fishing

How To Make Wooden Lures

Return to top of page Hawaii Shore Fishing...

or visit our other Hawaii fishing pages:

Hawaii Fly Fishing

Hawaii Bonefishing

Hawaii Kayak Fishing

Hawaii Spearfishing