Fishing on your Hawaiian Vacation

The Gear The Hunt

Fishing on your Hawaiian Vacation

Our trip to Maui was meant to serve two main purposes. The first was to help bridge that period of time between hunting season and the time of year when one can fish and garden in Colorado by going someplace without proper seasons. The second was to get the fuck out of winter for a couple weeks and return a bit closer to spring. Isa and I both suffer from seasonal affective disorder to differing degrees, and let me tell you, it is awful. Winter is a dark time for me every year. But as soon as I step off the plane into a wall of humid heat, all that darkness evaporates.

One of the wonderful things about including fishing on a Hawaiian vacation is that it won’t cost you a dime. So long as you stick to saltwater, there is no license required. From what I understand there are also only a couple places to freshwater fish on any of the islands, and that’s not really what we’re there for, is it?

We are there for the saltwater fishing, and it is everywhere. There are all sorts of charters available, from deep sea solo charters to cheaper party boats, but I’m too broke for either, so I stuck to shore fishing. Fortunately, there are shore fishing opportunities everywhere. There are beach parks every few miles, many of them with miles of coast. I even saw a few good places to fish tucked between the biggest resort hotels in Wailea.

For my trip I picked up a Plusinno telescoping rod. I read a few reviews that made it sound like a solid purchase, and it only ran me about $60 on Amazon. I bought it with the carrying case, which is kind of nice, but totally unnecessary. It’ll protect the rod a bit, but it makes the package take up quite a bit more space in your luggage. The reel that came with it could be improved upon, but it worked out alright for me.

That particular rod comes with a few lures, but you should consider bringing a few extras, especially if you aren’t going to have a vehicle to travel to a tackle shop. I ended up buying a couple at a store in Kaanapali after losing my best to coral, rocks, and whatnot. I had read that it is wise to go with an in-curving hook to avoid these losses, but I disregarded that and paid the price. The only lures that I could consistently retrieve without hangups were a couple crankbaits. And those are also what I was most successful with.

If I’m being honest, I really didn’t fish much while we were there. We had eleven days on Maui, and I put in about two afternoons. There is so much to do and see, I just didn’t prioritize it over traveling the island or tanning my butt on a nude beach. But I did have fun and a bit of luck when I tried.

The best luck I had came one evening toward sunset. Isa and I were walking on the beach near our campsite and spotted a bunch of black tip reef sharks feeding very close to shore. They varied in size, but there were a couple that I would’ve put in the five to six foot long range. Pretty cool.

I cast some crankbaits toward them in the hopes that something else would be feeding in the area as well. Or that only a reeeeally small shark would take the bait. Sure enough, after only a handful of casts in which I spooked the very jumpy sharks, something bit.

I expected at least a little bit of a fight, but I did not get that. This barracuda let me just reel it right in without a struggle. This was the first fish I’d caught since I was a child, and those snaggle teeth were definitely a little intimidating as I reeled in this twelve inch fish. But I had set a goal to catch something and eat it, and here was an edible fish.

I pulled it into the shallows feeling very stoked. Isa took a few photos of me as I reeled it in, but then she expressed to me that she didn’t want me to let it suffocate. I hesitated, uncertain if I should try to smash its head in real quick, and in this pause it somehow broke free and dragged my lure off into the sea.

I was pretty bummed about losing that fish, but I think it may be actually impossible to stop fishing right after landing something exciting. So, I tied on another crankbait and set to casting again, dropping them in that same area.

This time it only took maybe four casts. Something took the bait and took off out to sea and there was nothing I could do about it. It ripped out all my line and then snapped it without any struggle. Now I’d left two lures in the faces of fish. I feel awful about that. Am I really bad at this or is that a risk that you just have to get used to?

I fished one more afternoon through a light rain, but over our last few days there the sharks never came back to that spot and I never got another bite. A guy told me as he walked past that I needed to wade out a lot deeper to catch anything, but my fear of sharks (coupled with what I’d read about how black tip reef sharks have a tendency to nip at the legs of waders) was not going to let me do that. So I cast a while in the drizzle and then walked back to the van to make supper.

In the end, I am very glad that I bought that rod. I had fun fishing a bit, and I didn’t feel like I needed to do it all the time because I didn’t have to spend anything on a license. I also caught my first saltwater fish and my first fish since I was a kid. If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, as a lot of people seem to be right now (plane tickets are cheeeeap for some reason), toss a rod in your bag. Even if you just reel in one barracuda that you don’t know what to do with, it’s a good time.

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