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How to Fish in Hawaii: Bait, Poisonous Fish, Locations

Fishing in Hawaii is easier than people make it out to be. Unlike other places in the United States, Hawaii requires no permits or licenses to fish. As long as you aren't trespassing, you are allowed to fish off the coast or in a boat/kayak.

This guide will give you useful information about fishing in Hawaii including where to get your gear and what to use for bait. Fishing in Hawaii is such a fun experience because even the most unexperienced fishers are likely to go home with a catch.

Where to Fish in Hawaii

  • The Best Places to Fish on the Big Island of Hawaii
    The Big Island of Hawaii is surrounded by dense reef that is full of tropical fish—most of which are indigenous to this part of the world. This article will help you find the best places to catch some of these rare species on the Big Island and prepa
If you catch a lion fish or rock fish, throw them back--they are poisonous.

If you catch a lion fish or rock fish, throw them back--they are poisonous.

How to Get Fishing Gear in Hawaii without Spending a Fortune

Any grocery store, department store, or tackle shop in Hawaii sells fishing equipment. If you are looking for a bargin on buying a pole, reel, hooks, weights, bobbers and anything else you may need to fish in Hawaii, try visiting a KTA, Foodland, or Sack-n-Save. These stores have a bunch of fishing equipment for people that just need the simple stuff to get them out on the shore.

Larger department stores like Walmart, K-Mart, Costco, and Target also have cheap fishing gear that often come in kits for those that want to buy all of the necessities at once.

You can also check for equipment at your hotel gift shops if you are visiting, although it may be cheaper to rent equipment from a store near the coast. Generally, these shops will also rent out snorkel gear and water sports equipment. Ask your concierge for the closest places to rent fishing gear.

What Fishing Equipment Should I get in Hawaii?

If you are planning to fish off of the coast and need the bare necessities, you will want the following items to fish comfortably and affordably:

  • A pole with reel and line (many stores will sell all three together)
  • Weights to hold your hook below the surface
  • Bobbers to keep your hook from dragging on the bottom and for increased visibility
  • A bucket for your catch
  • Pliers to secure the weights and remove hooks from the fishes' mouths
  • A knife to cut the reel and bait
  • Bait (see below for suggestions)
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I caught this triggerfish with shrimp.

I caught this triggerfish with shrimp.

Preferred Bait

Choosing the right bait can be tricky when fishing. My best fishing experiences were when I used the following types of bait. I hope that these help you when attempting to fish in Hawaii:


The easiest and cheapest bait is small, pink shrimp. You can find these at any grocery store on the island. Just take one shrimp and put it on the end of the hook and the fish will be biting in no time. The shrimp is perfect because even in the most choppy conditions, the bait stays on the line.


Squid is also a great bait because like the shrimp, it is thick and stays on the line. When using squid, pull off three legs and secure it on the line with the top portion. Then wrap the tentacles around the hook and let one or two of them dangle so the fish think it is alive.


Fresh sardines (not canned) are great for bait. They are sold at most grocery stores and work well because the fish love them. Stick the hook right through the end of the tail or through the eyes to insure that the fish will bite the hook. The only downside to this type of bait is that when you leave the sardines in the sun for a couple of hours, they get hard and are difficult to secure to the hook. Bring some extra bait if you are planning to use sardines just in case they get soggy.

Anchovy Mixture

If you are looking for something to attract the fish to your hook, blend some anchovies with water in a blender and add flour to make the liquid more like dough. Then, toss this mixture in the water near your line and the fish will come from all around to eat this tasty treat.


FishingGuide from Maine, USA on May 29, 2012:

after reading this info I hope to be fishing in Hawaii soon. I've not had that pleasure as of yet. Thanks for the great info.

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