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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I don't get on here very often anymore, but this seems like a topic that comes up fairly frequently. I thought I'd put together a post on what's worked for me since moving down here a couple of years ago, and maybe help some fellow fisher's out if they're traveling to the islands and want to wet a line while they're here.
First, gear. A cheapie setup from wally world or sports authority will get you going just fine, something med. action 10-20lbs., 6-8' will cover the most bases. If you're bringing rods and reels from home, most steelhead and salmon rods will get the job done. I prefer 20-40lb. braid for everything except plunking, then I use mono, again in the 20-40lb. range. Probably not going to bring any monsters in on these setups, but they'll do for casual use.
Lures

I've hooked fish on all of these lures, each one has a particular set of conditions that it works the best however. Swimming plugs like the crystal minnow (red/white) and the x-rap work better in deeper, calmer water for me. A nice protected cove, jetty, or harbor are ideal for these. The retrieve should be fast and jerky, almost fast enough to make the plug spin out, with pauses here and there.
Top water plugs, the black/red eye on the bottom and black/silver skirted one on the left, work great in rough, rocky areas with a lot of wave action and white water. Find a rocky point to cast off of, and try to cast past the breaking waves and rip it into the whitewater. The retrieve should be really fast and jerky, the plug should be splashing and gurgling, leaving behind a bubble trail and generally looking like a panicked baitfish.
The top two lures are my go-to's for almost any spot. The brand name is scrounger, they are a jig head with a plastic lip that makes it act like a swimming plug. The hook rides upright, so they are good for shallow spots because they won't get snagged very often. The best all-around is a 1/2 oz. scrounger with a black 4 1/4" curly tail grub, cast into little whitewater pockets in shallow coves and points with a fast retrieve. Or on sandy beaches, slow the retrieve down and let the jig bump the bottom on occasion, kicking up sand.
Bubble float/egg weight setup.

This is probably the most popular setup for light gear fishing down here, what people call whipping. Run your mainline through the float, through a bead, and tie on a barrel swivel. You want as long of a leader as you can manage to cast, usually not longer than your rod. You can use either a standard j hook, around a size 2 or so, or an AH hook, which is like a cross between a j and circle hook. AH is what most people use, around size 14 or so. For the lure itself, you can use minnow strips, which are just thin strips of plastic, or curly tails, sized according to your hooks. Thin strips of squid also work very well, although they don't last very long. You can slide the center of the float out to fill it with water to give you enough weight to cast. Retrieve should be fast, making the float splash and kick up a fuss.
If you're in a sand area, replace the bubble float with a 1/2-1oz. egg weight and drag it in along the bottom. If you're in a calm, sandy bottomed spot (lagoon, harbor, etc.), try still fishing this setup like you would for planter trout in a lake, using squid for bait.
For kids, replace the sliding bubble float with a fixed float, a couple feet of leader with a split shot ~6" from the hook and bait with small strips of squid or day old bread, rolled into balls.
If you're in a rocky/reef area fishing at night, try using a smaller hook with 2" glow in the dark grubs.
Bait
For plunking, or what everyone here calls dunking, your standard three way swivel plunking setup will get the job done. You'll need either a sand or rock spike to hold your rod, depending on where you're fishing, both of which you can pick up most anywhere for around 10-20 bucks, and a bell to clip to your rod. Circle hooks are the way to go, not only do they set themselves while the rod is in the holder, but they are much less likely to get hung up on the coral/rocks then a j hook is. The most popular style is called a BKN, around a size 14 will do the best all around.

Your leader shouldn't be more than a foot long, if it's a rocky/coral spot, as short as 6" is good. This will keep your hooks out of the reef, and makes it harder for an eel to pull your line into it's hole and end up loosing the whole setup. The lead line should be short in sandy areas, usually about twice what your leader is, so that your bait is lying on the bottom. For rocky spots it should be as long as you can cast, at least 6+ feet. Bank sinkers between 2-6oz. should hold in most spots. The best, cheapest, and easiest bait to get is the boxed squid from the grocery store, cut into strips according to your hook size. Octopus, chunk bait like tuna belly, and shrimp all work very well also.
Spots
Just about every inch of shoreline will hold some type of fish. There are three basic types of shoreline, sandy beaches, coral lagoons, and rocky/lave shoreline and cliffs.

Sandy shores will hold bonefish, jacks, threadfin, and barracuda. Popular surfing and swimming spots are good areas to look for bonefish, if you can get there before the hordes. Whipping with an egg weight and squid strips works well in these areas, cast past the breakers and work back in to the beach. Dunking is also productive in these areas, esp. at night. In the spot above, I'd work a lure in and out of the whitewater in the red circle, and dunk bait or whip an egg sinker rig in the yellow.
There aren't any real lagoons in the state, but Oahu, Maui, and Kaui have fringing reefs that will block the surf and allow extensive inshore coral reefs to form that hold all kinds of fish. In these areas, look for sandy channels between the coral heads that open into deeper water past the reef. Predatory fish use these channels as a highway coming into and out of the reefs with the tides. Any and all of the tactics above will work here, just be aware that coral is incredibly sharp and will cut your line like a hot knife through butter. If you're fishing at night, expect plenty of eels.
Rocky/lava shores are more prominent on the younger islands, so Maui and especially the big island have plenty of these. This can range from shallow coves not more than a couple feet deep at high tide, to the cliffs on the east and south shore of the big island where you can cast into 300'+ of water from shore. You'll need specialized gear to fish off the cliffs, not to mention the safety factor, so look for spots that you can get within a couple of feet of the water. These spots are where the scrounger works the best, if it's deeper than 20' or so you'll have more luck dunking bait on the bottom.

Here, I'd cast a scrounger to the red spots, making sure to work it near the boulder that's circled in yellow

Cast to the spots on the edge of the whitewater and work back in. It doesn't hurt to leave the lure in the water for a few seconds when you get it back in, right at the edge of the rocks. Sometimes fish will follow your lure all the way back, and only attack when they think they've got it cornered against the rocks.
Times/tides
Tide swings here are tiny in comparison to the NW, but they still have a tremendous effect on the bite. Just like jetty fishing, an hour or so on either side of a slack tide, especially high, is the best. If you can fish the first or last light of the day, do it regardless of what the tide is doing. After dark, I don't think the tide is as important, but still won't hurt to have fresh bait on if the tide is about to change. Expect plenty of eels at night anywhere there are rocks or coral, they are nasty buggers, so it's usually best to just cut the line near the hook and let them slither back into the water.
I've got some pictures I'll put up later of spots so you can get an idea of what to look for.
Hope that someone will find this useful, if you want to get more in-depth look for any of the Fishing Hawaii Style books by Jim Rizzuto, or Pacific Shorefishing by Mike Sakamoto, both full of good info.
 

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Niiice post! Thank you.

If you've a mind to, would you please post some pix of what you catch? Swimming off of some Kauai beaches I have looked at fish and wondered, "Are you edible? Are you legal to keep?"
 

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Great post! I wish I'd have had this information last week when I was in Maui, but I will definately save it for future trips. Thanks for sharing!
 

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Thank you so much for this post. I took my fly rod to maui this year and was casting top water salt flys off the lava rocks near our condo evey morning and wasnt having to much sucess but I kept at it each morning and then I had a monster come in and slam it and spool me and pop the line. I dont what kind of fish it was but I saw a blue turquoise stripe along its back and it was fast as lightning. I also had somthing huge attacking my fly as I trolled it on the surface behind my rental sea kayak. I snorkled around the fishing grounds and saw the fish feeding on the small green worm like thing you speak of what type of fly is it? I plan on doing alot of fly fishing from shore this year. When I went to the sports shops and the local fisherman seemed like they have never seen a fly rod. Any info on fly fishing shore fish would be cool.
 

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I was born as raised on Kauai and now reside in the PNW. Excellent info provided. Fishing from shore in Hawaii is pretty simple compared the complexities fo Salmon and Steelhead fishing.

A simple mix of the lures mentioned ( scroungers ( plastics), rapala style lures and top water lures) and simple spinning gear is all you need.

Find some nice accessible rocky shoreline and fish the whitewater areas. Sandy beaches target the wave breaks and whitewater.

Nothing like fishing the shoreline in the Hawaii. Heck of alot warmer than fishing in Oregon for 9 months of the year. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Niiice post! Thank you.

If you've a mind to, would you please post some pix of what you catch? Swimming off of some Kauai beaches I have looked at fish and wondered, "Are you edible? Are you legal to keep?"
Almost any fish you come across is edible, except any of the puffers or box fish. Some don't taste so great for someone with a western palate, but pretty much everything gets eaten down here. The herbivore fish generally have a strong iodine taste, and most of the wrasses aren't good table fare. Some of the predators accumulate a toxin called ciguatera that is pretty nasty, and can be fatal. Roi, eels, big barracuda and jacks, and amberjacks are the worst for this, but any predator that feeds on herbivorous reef fish will have some amount of the toxin. It's "usually" more of a problem in calm, protected water, but a couple of meals from smaller fish isn't going to be a problem.
The regulations are incredibly loose compared to the NW, no license if you're fishing in saltwater, and the size and bag limits are very generous, if there are any at all. Here's a link to the regulated species http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/regulated_fish_mfv.html
Here's some pictures of likely catches,


To'au, or red tail snapper on the bottom, A'awa or Tableboss top two fish. Middle fish is a female, the one on top is a male. Rocky/coral areas, small lures or dunked bait.

Kaku, or barracuda. You can find them most anywhere, but they won't hang out in really rough water very often. They won't often pass up a frantic looking, fast moving lure.

Aholehole, Flagtail. Calm pockets in rough whitewater areas, and right in the shorebreak on sandy beaches. Small ones will hang out in protected brackish water and the lower stretches of streams. Small plastics or bait behind a bubble floater.


Hate, or Triggerfish. Any rocky/coral area, they will destroy any bait they can get their little piggy mouths on, especially in deeper water. They are good to eat, but really tough skin that you have to pull off with pliers.


Moi, or Pacific Threadfin. Whitewater around rocky point, and right in the shorebreak on sandy shores. Scroungers and egg weight rigs work the best, sometimes you'll catch them at night on dunked bait. Soooo very tasty, but fairly rare.


Roi, don't know the English name. Very high chance of ciguatera, also an invasive species. All the local fisherman will thank you if you kill any of these you catch, but definitely don't eat them. They hang out in coral, and will eat literally anything that gets close to them.


Lai, or leatherback. You can find them just about anywhere, but they aren't super common. They do taste good, but they are very skinny and not much meat on them. The dried skin is used on lures and flies, and they'll bite most any small, fast moving lure.


Nenuenue, or rudder fish. Usually hang out in areas with coral/boulder bottoms, along jetties, etc. Best way to catch them is with a floater and bread balls, but I've caught a few dunking squid at night. Not bad eating, sometimes has a strong iodine taste, makes really good poke.


Fugu, or puffer. Do not eat. You can find them most anywhere except sandy beaches usually they can be a real pest at night, their beaks are like wire cutters and can cut through a hook.


Aha, or giant needlefish on top, Moana or goatfish are the four red fish in the center, and an A'awa on the left. The Aha will cruise in protected areas around the shore and open water. They will attack anything in the top foot or so of water, but the have incredibly bony mouths and are almost impossible to hook. The Moanas will be in coral/rocky/rubble areas, small lures or bait within a foot or so of the bottom. There are a bunch of different goatfish species, but they all have barbels under their mouths like a catfish. All tasty.


To'au on top, Ta'ape or blue stripe snapper are the yellow/blue ones. Both are invasive, and very tasty so keep any you catch. To'au are loners and hang out in areas with lots of cracks and crevices to hide in, and will bite bait and small lures close to their hiding spots, and will venture farther out at night. Ta'ape hang out in schools, usually in deeper water, 30' or more but will suspend off the bottom so they can be hard to target from shore unless you luck into them. If you catch one, there are usually plenty more nearby.


Awa'awa, or lady fish. Sandy bottomed, protected areas. Small, fast moving lures especially silver kastmasters work great. Really soft mushy meat, like a bonefish. Makes good fishcake.


Nunu, or trumpetfish. Also, another similar fish is the corenet fish, can be bright yellow too. Most anywhere except sandy beaches, mostly takes slower moving lures. They are ok to eat, but not much meat and they are slimy as heck.


Kala, or unicorn fish. Surge zone and rough whitewater on lava shores where lots of seaweed is growing. Floater rig with pieces of seaweed for bait, not more than a couple feet from the shore. Incredibly strong fighters, strong iodine taste but ok grilled with shoyu and chili pepper water. Watch out for the scalpels near the tail on any of the surgeon fish, they will cut the heck out of you.


Omilu, or bluefin Trevally. You can find them anywhere, and they'll take almost any lure or bait if they are hungry. One of the best fighting fish from shore, and smart. They will head straight for a hole or coral head and cut you off. Hooking them isn't terribly difficult, but getting them to shore is another matter. Also one of the best tasting fish.


Hinelea, or rock mover wrasse. Not common, or tasty, but cool looking none the less.


Uku, or grey snapper. Not likely to come across these guys except in deeper water, usually 60'+, but they come up occasionally from shore. Big baits fished deep.


Again, not likely to come across either of these except for deeper spots, but a Kagami Ulua or threadfin jack on the right, and yellow spot papio on the left. Bait fished deep.
There are tons of other, smaller fish that will bite bait or bread balls. Most of them won't be good eating, but plenty of fun to catch.
 

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Great post Joloni!!!!!! Grew up catching all of those fish. Mostly at the end of my Hawaiian Sling or in the Pai Pai Net. You took me back in time. :applause::applause: HT
 

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Excellent Post - If I ever get over there I'll look you up for some kayak fishing - Great explaining not only what the fish were but also how they eat -:applause:
 

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Roi = Peacock Grouper. Prized in other locations, in Hawaii, is an invasive pest that kills way too many reef fish and is far too prolific, kill every one you get your hands on. Cig poisoning is too common to eat them, although I am sure they are tasty. Chum.

I found the iodine taste on kala and other surgeon fish to be very hit or miss. I couldn't figure it out, some were great others inedible.

What about Menpachi and Uhu? Are those spearfishing only targets? Do they bite hook and line?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
What about Menpachi and Uhu? Are those spearfishing only targets? Do they bite hook and line?
Menpachi and aweoweo are easily targeted at night. They hang out in areas with lots of coral and rough, broken bottoms with lots of place to hide during the day. At night, they will school up in midwater looking for food. The basic whipping set up is the most common way to target them, replace the bubble floater with a pancake weight, small size 16 AH hooks, and small glow in the dark curly tails on dark nights, small piece of squid or shrimp on full moon nights. Retrieve as slow as possible, and keep moving till you find the fish.
Uhu (parrotfish) for the most part are speared or netted. They primarily eat coral, as a matter of fact, most of the white sand on beaches fronted by fringing reefs is pulverized coral that's passed through the bowels of a parrotfish. Tasty!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you so much for this post. I took my fly rod to maui this year and was casting top water salt flys off the lava rocks near our condo evey morning and wasnt having to much sucess but I kept at it each morning and then I had a monster come in and slam it and spool me and pop the line. I dont what kind of fish it was but I saw a blue turquoise stripe along its back and it was fast as lightning. I also had somthing huge attacking my fly as I trolled it on the surface behind my rental sea kayak. I snorkled around the fishing grounds and saw the fish feeding on the small green worm like thing you speak of what type of fly is it? I plan on doing alot of fly fishing from shore this year. When I went to the sports shops and the local fisherman seemed like they have never seen a fly rod. Any info on fly fishing shore fish would be cool.
Which island are you going to be on? There a couple spots on Oahu that you can target bonefish with a fly, but for the most part there aren't many shallow flats that lend themselves to that. The fish that broke you off was most likely an omilu, I know that blue flash and subsequent line pop all too well.
I'm not a fly guy myself, but from the little I know I'd say top water poppers, and large baitfish imitations would get you some hookups. As long as it looks like its panicked and running for cover, if there are predators around they'll at least chase it around. If you are getting followers but no takers, speed up your retrieve when you see the fish following your lure. They don't like it when they think their dinner might get away.
Also, if any of you ifishers find yourself on the big island, feel free to shoot me a line. I've got some loaner gear I'd be happy to set you up with, maybe even wet a line together. Shoots
 

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Wow! Great post! I can't sleep and was just doing some browsing and came across your post, it was awesome! Can relate to a bunch of it as my wife is from Maui so I have done a bit of the shore fishing on Maui and the big island.

Tight lines and ill pm you next time we stay at my rents condo in waikoloa!
 

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Wonderful thread! We'll be in Maui in early March, north of Makena. I may have to pack a travel rod after all!
 

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Just got back from Maui. Rented snorkel gear and bought a spear. Waay too much fun! Just alittle concerned about the tiger sharks showing up while swimming to shore with the fish bag!:D
 

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Joloni, do you know whether there is a Goodwill-type operation on Kauai? I'm thinking that if we are fortunate enough to go back I would like to drop by WalMart and buy a cheap outfit, then donate it to a charity thrift store at the end of the trip.

I also don't want to step on any Hawaiian cultural/religious toes. Do you know if there are areas tourists should avoid fishing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Joloni, do you know whether there is a Goodwill-type operation on Kauai? I'm thinking that if we are fortunate enough to go back I would like to drop by WalMart and buy a cheap outfit, then donate it to a charity thrift store at the end of the trip.

I also don't want to step on any Hawaiian cultural/religious toes. Do you know if there are areas tourists should avoid fishing?
I'm pretty sure the Salvation Army has stores on all the islands, that would probably be your best bet. I'm not very familiar with Kauai, so not sure of any specific places to avoid, but areas that are Hawaiian homelands you'd be better off not fishing. In general though, as long as you are not taking more than you need or leaving trash around, you shouldn't run into any problems (judging by your signature line, that won't be an issue for you). Killing sharks is not looked upon very highly by most Hawaiians, so release any you happen to hook up. Otherwise, general etiquette rules apply, don't crowd a spot that someone else is fishing, don't cast if there are divers in the water, etc. Just basic respect, if you're in doubt just ask, I've found that if you start from a place of respect for them and their land, they reciprocate the respect and are very helpful. Honestly, I've seen more bad attitude and behavior in an afternoon spent at the guard rail hole on the nestucca than I've encountered in three years fishing down here.
Good luck,
Jonah
 
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