Fishing Opportunities and Regulations in Hawaii
Hawaii is a paradise for anglers who want to experience the thrill of deep sea fishing, the variety of reef fishing, or the tranquility of freshwater fishing. The Aloha State offers over 400 species of fish to target, from the majestic Mahi Mahi and the powerful Yellowfin Tuna, to the elusive Swordfish and the prized Blue Marlin. Whether you fish from a charter boat, a kayak, or the shore, you will find plenty of fishing opportunities in Hawaii.
However, before you cast your line, you should be aware of the fishing regulations that apply to different areas, species, and methods of fishing in Hawaii. These regulations are designed to protect the marine and freshwater resources, ensure sustainable fisheries, and promote responsible fishing practices. Here are some of the main regulations you should know before you go fishing in Hawaii.
No License Required for Saltwater Fishing
One of the benefits of fishing in Hawaii is that you do not need a saltwater fishing license if you are fishing for recreational purposes and not selling your catch²³. However, this does not mean that you can fish anywhere and anyhow you want. You still need to follow the rules regarding size limits, bag limits, seasons, gear restrictions, and prohibited areas for certain species and locations.
For example, some species such as Ulua (Giant Trevally), Uku (Gray Snapper), and Moi (Pacific Threadfin) have minimum size limits and/or bag limits that vary by island². Some species such as Kumu (Goatfish), Ula (Spiny Lobster), and Kona Crab have closed seasons when they cannot be harvested². Some gear such as gill nets, spears, and traps are prohibited or restricted in certain areas or for certain species². Some areas such as marine reserves, fishery management areas, and artificial reefs are off-limits to fishing or have special rules².
You can find more information about the saltwater fishing regulations in Hawaii on the website of the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) or by contacting their offices on each island².
License Required for Freshwater Fishing
If you want to fish in Hawaii’s freshwater streams, reservoirs, or ponds, you will need a freshwater game fishing license²⁴. You can obtain this license online or at any DAR office or authorized vendor². The license is valid for one year from the date of purchase and costs $5 for residents and $25 for non-residents².
The freshwater game fishing license allows you to fish for introduced species such as Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Peacock Bass, Channel Catfish, Bluegill, and Tilapia. However, you cannot fish for native freshwater species such as Oopu (Gobies) and Opae (Shrimp), which are protected by law²⁴.
The freshwater fishing regulations also include size limits, bag limits, seasons, gear restrictions, and prohibited areas for certain species and locations. For example, Rainbow Trout can only be caught in Kokee Stream on Kauai during June and July with a daily bag limit of seven fish per angler². Largemouth Bass have a minimum size limit of 14 inches and a daily bag limit of two fish per angler in Wahiawa Reservoir on Oahu². Spearfishing is prohibited in all freshwater areas².
You can find more information about the freshwater fishing regulations in Hawaii on the website of the DAR or by contacting their offices on each island².
Plan Ahead and Fish Responsibly
Hawaii is a great destination for anglers who want to enjoy the beauty and diversity of its aquatic environments. However, it is also important to respect the laws and rules that govern fishing in Hawaii. These regulations are not meant to limit your fun but to ensure that future generations can also enjoy the same fishing opportunities.
Before you go fishing in Hawaii, make sure you plan ahead and check the latest regulations for the specific area and species you want to fish. You can also consult with local fishermen, charter captains, or DAR staff for advice and tips. Always follow the regulations and practice catch-and-release whenever possible. Report any violations or illegal activities to the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) hotline at 808-643-DLNR.
By fishing responsibly in Hawaii, you will not only have a memorable experience
(1) Division of Aquatic Resources | Regulations. https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/.
(2) Hawaii Shorefishing – Living in Hawaii. https://www.livinginhawaii.com/fishing-in-hawaii/hawaii-shorefishing/.
(3) Freshwater Fishing On Hawaii: What To Know – kauaiatv.com. https://kauaiatv.com/blog/freshwater-fishing-on-hawaii-what-to-know/.
(4) Hawaii Fishing: The Complete Guide (Updated 2023) – FishingBooker Blog. https://fishingbooker.com/blog/hawaii-fishing/.
(5) Hawaii Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations – Fishing.org. https://www.fishing.org/licenses/hawaii.