Hawaiian Fishing


Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika


My husband and I inherited two fine fishing poles. It is comforting knowing that  if all the lights go off, and we are stuck in the middle of the ocean with no contact with the outside world, we at least can go fishing.

Weekly, as we drive along the winding road from the North Shore of Oahu to and from Honolulu, we often notice fishing poles stuck in the sand on the shore nearby. Many of these poles have little cowbells dangling on them to indicate that a sea creature is biting the line. Nearby is a dedicated fisherman or woman sitting on a lawn chair with a net and an awaiting cooler chest. What faith and stamina! Either that, or they just wanted to get away from their honey-do list!

Oama, small goatfish, Oahu, HawaiiDuring the summer and into early fall, you may also see lines or circles of people a few yards off shore, standing in waist deep water with their fishing nets. After asking around, I discovered that they are fishing for oama (small goatfish), which can be eaten fried (bones and all). These small (7 inches or smaller) fish can also be used as bait for larger fish.

Hawaii does not require a fishing license. However, it is good to know that there is a law that you cannot sell your catch for commercial gain, or take home fish that are not in season. You have to check with their state Division of Aquatic Resources website for updated information.

Shore Fishing on Oahu, HawaiiNative Hawaiians have passed down their fishing skills down through the generations. Some local Hawaiians fish with a simple bamboo pole with a line, sinker and hook. Many children in Hawaii are taught to fish this way. Then they graduate to spinning reels and rods. Skills include whipping or spinning (casting your line with a lure and quickly reeling it in) and dunking (Casting a baited and weighted line and then waiting for a fish to bite).

Other bait that can be used includes shrimp, eel, crab, squid and octopus. I’ve heard that from the shore on Hawaii, you can even catch some of the big fish, including mahimahi, ahi and ului. Fishing is best near the sandbars, or where the reef is close to shore. Plenty of fish search for food in the sand near the reef.

The farther out you fish from shore, the larger the fish you can catch, albeit with the right equipment. It stands to reason that the larger the bait, the larger your catch, but make sure you have hefty line and a strong reel. Fly fishing is not as popular from the shore in Hawaii. Having grown up in Utah, I remember my father and brother making flies for fishing in the rivers or lakes, but have not seen it as much here.Fishing at Yokahuma Bay,Oahu, Hawaii

With the whole island of Oahu surrounded by ocean, you can find miles of shore for fishing. Of course, if you prefer night fishing, and don’t mind a few sharks as company, you can take a spear with your goggles and flippers for an exciting time. I have some friends whose husbands do this on a regular basis. Their freezers are stock full of fish.

Of course, if you are a well-seasoned fisherman, this hub will be very elementary for you, but that is where my husband and I are at. We are still learning the basics, and hope to share more as we go along. I’ve heard that Yokahuma Bay in Waianae, Oahu is one of the best places to fish. See you on the shore!!


Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, but has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the Polynesian islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:



email: kongaikr@byuh.edu


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