Deep Sea Fishing for Yellowfin Tuna in Hawaii
Fishing for Yellowfin Tuna in Hawaii is an exciting experience, especially if you are lucky enough to land a large one! On your next trip to lounge on the beaches of Waikiki look at getting out on the open ocean for some deep-sea sport fishing to catch an “Ahi” yourself. After all, you have made it to one of the most remote island chains in the world which provides a sport fisherman their own version of paradise.
It would be a shame not to stock your hotel fridge with fresh cut ‘Poki’ on your vacation if given the opportunity.
Charter boats will take you out for sport fishing in the hopes of catching tuna, marlin, mahi mahi, or whatever else they come across but rarely do you get to keep your catch. Spend some time looking into the reviews found online before you book your charter as you will not need the most glamorous ship to find what you are after but an able crew and knowledgable captain.
If fishing in Hawaii is something you want to do I recommend looking for a guide who will let you take your prize or is willing to prepare and split it with you before they take it to auction. Some boats pay their crews with the fish you catch after it is sold at the market. You didn’t pay for an entire day just to earn a picture, ensure you are getting something out of your experience with the high costs of some trips
I am lucky enough to have a friend with access to a fishing boat and the two of us headed out off of Oahu’s west side to see if we could snag some lunch just before high tide. Generally the period just before and after the highest tide of the day is when you will find the most activity.
Traditionally we have had the best luck trolling the shelf lines off of Oahu at 1,000 – 2,000 fathoms while using GPS. Maybe it’s just the local superstition I have picked up, but every 500 fathoms seems to be a good depth to find these tuna at the surface after being forced up from deep water by the island’s drop-off.
No fishing outing is guaranteed successful but it is always worth a try. Despite the size of the tuna that run through Hawaii while in high season they are like looking for a “a needle in a haystack” when out on the open ocean. Luckily, for those who suffer from sea sickness, you do not need to venture far from the island to catch deep water fish as most of the prime areas are within sight of shore.
The problem in catching them is being able to put yourself in a high probability area where they can find you. What’s the secret to finding these fish in Hawaii? Bird piles. Why would I be looking piles of sea birds diving into the Pacific? When you spot birds collecting in concentrated areas it means that the smaller fish have been driven to the surface by the ocean predators we are after.
Birds will collect if there is pods of dolphins working a school of fish or any number of reasons they are able to spot from the air, the more birds the more likely the predatory fish. Already in a frenzy as you drive through the school of feeder fish the tuna are still looking for targets of opportunities for another bite to eat. Tuna have great eyesight and are extremely inquisitive which is why I prefer trolling for them.
The boat attracts the curios tuna, which see the lures you have trailing as bait. If you catch their attention using a kite system at 8-12 mph to keep the lure splashing on the surface behind your boat they will chase it down for another snack.
You can usually tell when you have a tuna on the hook as the rod doubles over and the reel begins to scream as line is let out. Convincing these massive fish to come back home with you is no easy task as they will give you quite the workout reeling them back in.
Check the fish runs online to see what time of year to plan your trip, if tuna is your fish of choice try to go June through August when the larger Yellowfins are most prevalent off the shores. Seasonally many of the islands will be similar but some have areas more attractive to a particular fish than another based on the food. If you are bringing a spouse who doesn’t enjoy fishing they may be bribed by the whales (and the occasional submarine) that can be seen while fishing during the winter months.
I know some of you will find this photo distasteful but it is part of the sport. I consider myself lucky to land a Yellowfin of this size and after cleaning this fellow he was donated to several families on the island. Nothing brings more satisfaction than seeing the reaction from a needy family being given a local delicacy. Fortunately, I was invited back for a few feasts and prepared “poki” from secret family recipes for my generosity.
Have any fishing stories you want to share? Leave a comment below. (ps, we know you’re exaggerating :))