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Hawaii provides a unique fishing experience compared to most areas in the U.S., offering a different set of waters -- including shore, reef, offshore, and deep-sea fishing.

Fishing is very much enriched into the Hawaiian culture. Hawaii has seven inhabited and 129 uninhabited islands that play a massive aspect of Hawaii's fishing culture.

Many of the native Hawaiians rely on fishing for their families' daily food, and to extend the lifestyle of their faithful ancestors. Since it is such a cultural pastime for the locals, anglers MUST adhere to the regulations set by the state to protect years of tradition.

Hawaii fishing regulation is a little bit complex compared to other states. Hence, we've prepared this Hawaii Fishing Guide to ensure you'll enjoy your fishing trip in Hawaii.

Getting Hawaii Fishing Licenses

One perk about fishing in Hawaii is that you don’t need a marine recreational fishing license in Hawaii for both residents and visitors of the islands. The only rule is that you are not allowed to sell your catch. 

If you are looking to go freshwater fishing, you’ll need a Freshwater Game Fishing license. To obtain this license, go to the website of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. Here's the costs breakdown:

  • Minor - $4
  • Resident - $6
  • Non-Resident - $26
  • 7-Day Tourist - $11
  • 30-Day Tourist - $21
  • Senior - $1

Types of Hawaii Fishing Licenses, Costs, and Where to Get Them: 

Below we’ve compiled the few fishing licenses and permits available for recreational use in Hawaii. Please reference these tables to see if you’ll need any licenses or permits for your upcoming trips. 

Bottomfish Fishing Vessel Registration

Applies to

Bottom fishers

Fees

None

Required for

Any vessel owner who is looking to catch any of the Deep 7 bottom fishes. Must provide vessel identification

Where to Purchase 

Online or In Person 

Freshwater Game Fishing License

Applies to

Freshwater fishers

Fees

Vary (see above section)

Required for

Any individual looking to catch any freshwater game fish recreationally

Where to Purchase 

Online, In Person, Authorized license agents 

Wahiawa Public Fishing Area Entry Permit

Applies to

Freshwater fishers 

Fees

None

Required for

Entry to fish in the Wahiawa Public Fishing Area on the island of Oahu

Where to Purchase 

Online, In Person, Authorized license agents 

Hawaii Fishing License Renewal

To renew your freshwater fishing licenses, go to the available channels to purchase and repurchase through the existing login you’ve originally signed up. 

Hawaii Fish Size and Limits 

When it comes to minimum fish size requirements, we recommend following these requirements to ensure that you are meeting the fishing laws of Hawaii. 

Species

Size

Bag

Rules

‘Ahi

3 pounds 

--

--

Aholehole

5 inches

--

--

‘Ama’ama (striped mullet) 

11 inches

--

Closed season from December to March

Awa

9 inches

--

--

Moi

11 inches

15 

Closed season from June to August

‘O’io

14 inches 

--

--

Uhi

12 inches; 10 inches for Maui specifically

2

--

Uhu’ ele’ ele

  

Taking prohibited on Maui 

Uhu uliuli

  

Taking prohibited on Maui

Uhu ‘ahu ‘ula

14 inches

2

Rules only apply on Maui

Uhu palukaluka 

14 inches

2

Rules only apply on Maui

Ulua and Papio

10 inches recreational and 16 inches for sale

20 (recreational)

--

Kumu

10 inches (except Maui); 12 inches on Maui

1 (Maui) 

--

Moano

7 inches; 8 inches for Maui 

--

--

Moano kea 

12 inches

Rules apply for Maui only

Muni

8 inches

2

Rules apply for Maui only

Weke and ‘Oama

7 inches for all islands except Maui; 8 inches for Maui

50 ‘Oama 

 

Weke nono

12 inches

--

Rules apply for Maui only

All other goatfishes

8 inches

--

--

Kala

14 inches

--

--

Opelu kala

16 inches

--

--

Manini

5 inches

--

--

Ula ula koa e

1 pound

--

Opakapaka

1 pound

5

--

Ula ula (ehu)

--

5

--

Kalekale

--

5

--

Lehi

--

5

--

Ukiuki (gindai

--

5

--

Hapu’u

--

5

--

Uku

1 pound

--

--

Aukule and halalu

8 ½ inches minimum and 200 lbs maximum using net

--

Applies from July to October

Opelu

--

--

Prohibited from using animal bait

Nehu

Nets over 50 feet

1 gallon

Commercial Use Only, Bait License

‘Iao

--

--

Commercial Use Only, Bait License

Honu

--

--

No open season - endangered species

‘Ilioholoikauaua (Hawaiian mon

--

--

No open species - endangered species

Hawaii Fishing Rules and Regulations 

When it comes to fishing laws in Hawaii, there are too many to remember all at once. However, the general rule of thumb is to plan your location, species, and gear ahead of time. For example, the Waikiki Diamond Head shoreline is open for fishing only on even years and not odd years. At Ama'ama, the fishing season is from April and ends in November.

Also, keep in mind that each island has its own specific set of rules. With the fishing gear you use, most rod and reel equipment will work. With commercial use, you want to read up on the nets, explosives, and electrical charges.

With Waimea Bay, you are not allowed to use more than two fishing setups or possess more than two rods and reels at once. You also can’t leave them unattended. If these laws are not obeyed, you will get levied heavy fines. For all of the specifics when it comes to fishing rules and regulations, please visit the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatics Resources for more information.

Generally, the residents of Hawaii are very relaxed people, but they take pride in taking care of their land. Not obeying the laws or treating this fish species with respect means to them that you are disturbing their home and peace. 

Best Spots to Fish in Hawaii (different islands)

Hawaii has something for everything when it comes to anglers. Whether you prefer chasing big game hunting of marlin in deep offshore waters or the calmness of fly fishing in freshwater lakes and streams, Hawaii truly has it all.

One of our favorite freshwater spots in Oahu is Lake Wilson, which has over 17 species in this area. It’s known for its famous peacock bass. But you may find other fish such as channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, smallmouth bass, snakehead, oscr, tilapia, and red devil.

The best time you can catch the coveted famous peacock bass is during the months of April through the end of October when the weather is at its warmest. The temperature in Hawaii stays rather consistent; however, spring and winter come with a lot of rain, storms, and winds, which would affect the visibility of the lake, making it harder to fish with accuracy. 

For those of you that are into sport fishing and deep-sea fishing, you’ll want to check out the Nawiliwili Harbor in Kauai. This is a busy spot near the Lihue Airport and offers a variety of fish species such as Marlin, mahi-mahi, Ahi (yellowfin tuna), and Ono (wahoo). This is an offshore location, so you’ll have to take a chartered boat to reach here. However, there are many hotels and lodging near this area. 

Some anglers love the challenge of hunting new and more delicate fish. The famous World War II memorial at Pearl Harbor offers an excellent selection of fishing. Besides all of the touristy bonanza here, many anglers find it extremely productive to fish here. If you fish off the pier, you may land goatfish, ladyfish, greenjack, and Samoan crabs due to its affinity for the rocks beneath the surface. For those who take a fishing charter, you’ll be able to find some solid game fish off Hickam waters such as Tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and swordfish. These fish are known to put up a considerable fight, so make sure to bring your A-game! 

The beautiful thing about Hawaii is that it offers much uniqueness to fishing. At the Waiakea Pond in the Wailoa River State Park near Hilo on the Big Island, you’ll find quite a distinct set of species. Some will include mullets, Ulua, and aholehole. The catches here are limited to 20 fish due to the small 25 acres of water distance and to preserve its natural habitat. It’s also a public fishing area and even kid-friendly, so an excellent destination to take your family. For a more secluded spot that is likely to land all of the fish for yourself, the Waialua Bay Pier found at the Haleiwa Alii Beach Park in Oahu is a fantastic spot. For this spot, live bait works best, and you can land Papio, goatfish, Ulua, barracuda, and giant sea bass. It’s an excellent area for barbecue and picnics, so you can have a beautiful family outing right after catching your trophy fish!