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The joy of fishing in Hawaii is that there isn't really a season; it's good year-round. Sure, the bigger yellowfin tuna (ahi) are generally caught in summer, and the coveted spearfish are more frequent in winter, but you can still catch them any day of the year. You can also find dolphin fish (mahimahi), wahoo (ono), skip jacks, and the king—Pacific blue marlin—ripe for the picking on any given day.
When choosing a fishing boat in the Islands, keep in mind the immensity of the surrounding ocean. Look for the older, grizzled captains who have been trolling these waters for half a century. All the fancy gizmos in the world can't match an old tar's knowledge of the waters.
The general rule for the catch is an even split with the crew. Unfortunately, there are no "freeze-and-ship" providers in the state, so, unless you plan to eat the fish while you're here, you'll probably want to leave it with the boat. Most boats do offer mounting services for trophy fish; ask your captain.
Besides the gift of fish, a gratuity of 10% to 20% is standard but use your own discretion depending on how you felt about the overall experience.
Boats and Charters
Hawaii Fishing Charters. Based out of Ko Olina resort, Captain Jim and his crew try to bring the full Hawaiian experience to their fishing trips. While most fishing boats head straight out to the open ocean, Captain Jim trolls along the leeward coast, giving visitors a nice sense of the island while stalking the fish. Tours start at $375 for a shared charter; prices increase from there. The company also offers a private overnighter to Molokai's Penguin Banks, reputed to be some of Hawaii's best fishing grounds, starting at $2,400 for up to four people. Ko Olina Resort and Marina, 92 Aliinui Dr., Kapolei, HI, 96707. PHONE: 808/783-9274. www.hawaiifishingcharters.net.
Maggie Joe Sport Fishing. The oldest sportfishing company on Oahu also boasts landing one of the largest marlins every caught out of Kewalo Basin. With two smaller boats and the 53-foot custom Maggie Joe (which can hold up to 25 anglers), it has air-conditioned cabins, hot showers, and cutting-edge fishing equipment. A marine taxidermist can mount the monster you reel in. Half-day exclusive charter rates for groups of six begin at $652 on the 41-foot Sea Hawk or the 38-foot Ruckus. Charters on the Maggie Joe start at $890. Kewalo Basin, 1025 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96813. PHONE: 808/591-8888 or 877/806-3474. www.maggiejoe.com.
Magic Sportfishing. This 50-foot Pacifica fishing yacht, aptly named Magic, boasts a slew of sportfishing records, including some of largest marlins caught in local tournaments and the most mahimahi hooked during a one-day charter. This yacht is very comfortable, with twin diesel engines that provide a smooth ride, air-conditioning, and a cozy seating area. The boat can accommodate up to six passengers; call for rates. Kewalo Basin Harbor, 1025 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96813. PHONE: 808/596-2998 or 808/286-2998. www.magicsportfishing.com.