For many big-game fishing enthusiasts, Hawaii is where mere “fishing tales” can turn into wall-mounting realities. It’s where you can take on thousand-pound marlins, hook up with yellow-fin tuna and, of course, share stories of the big ones that got away.
Sport fishing adventures are available on every Hawaiian island, but the best ones are found on the Kona Coast on the Big Island. The quality of the “big game” here, many experts agree, is simply unparalleled.
Thanks to its deep waters right outside the mouth of Honokohau Harbor and the looming volcanoes that block the winds, Kona is regarded as the big-game fishing capital of the world. Its history backs up the claim, as many International Game Fish Association records have been set in Kona. Here, it’s even possible to hook a “grander” (a Pacific blue marlin that weighs at least a thousand pounds).
There are three types of marlin roaming Hawaiian waters: black, blue and striped. Other fish to be caught here include ahi (yellow-fin tuna), ono (wahoo), mahimahi (dolphin fish) and other billfish. The striped marlin is considered a wintertime inhabitant, but the rest of the fish are year-round Hawaii residents.
There are about a hundred charter boats that operate out of Honokohau Harbor, which means you have a wide range of choices in terms of prices, lengths and departure times. Most charters offer half- and full-day adventures that can last anywhere from four to eight hours. Charter boats range in size from 25 to 58 feet.
Contact a charter boat association and ask for recommendations. They can help connect you with the fishing charter that best meets your needs and desires. Walk-up bookings are usually available, but advanced reservations are recommended. If you’re serious about catching fish, you should book a six- or eight-hour excursion. This will give the boat time to reach the major fishing grounds and spend time there.
Each year, Kona hosts the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, known as the “grandfather” of big-game fishing tournaments. The event draws avid fishing enthusiasts from all around the world, including countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Finland, Germany, Canada, France, the Philippines and the mainland U.S.