Kaanapali Sportfishing Fish Guide
What Can You Expect To Catch On Maui?
Pacific Blue Marlin, Striped Marlin and the Short-nosed Spearfish are found closer to land in Hawaii than most places due to the deep waters surrounding our islands. With the exception of shutome, billfish are harvested in the open ocean by the same fleets which land fresh tuna and they enter the same markets as tuna. Seasonality of species is evident, with Pacific blue marlin most available during the summer months, striped marlin most available in the spring and fall, and shortbill spearfish most available in the summer and fall. Shutome is predominant in spring and summer.
Mahi Mahi (dolphin)
Mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus) is commonly known as dolphin (the fish, not the mammal), dolphinfish, or dorado. When a mahimahi takes the hook, its colors are brilliant blue and silver dappled with yellow. These fade quickly when the fish dies. Large aggregations of mahimahi are common around flotsam drifting at sea and off fish aggregation buoys.
Ono (Acanthocybium solandri), commonly known as wahoo, is a close relative of the king mackerel. Unlike true mackerel, ono rarely school, but groups may be found around fish aggregation buoys. Surface catches indicate that ono associate with banks, pinnacles and flotsam. However, longline catches suggest that this species is also widely distributed in the open ocean. Ono may grow to more than 100 pounds in round weight, but the usual size of the fish caught in Hawaii is 8 to 30 pounds in round weight.
Ahi (yellowfin tuna)
Tuna caught off the Hawaiian Islands belong to stocks which migrate long distances across the Pacific Ocean, and their availability in Hawaiian waters is seasonal. In Hawaii, the peak season for most tuna species is summer (April-September), but in contrast, the heaviest landings of bigeye tuna occur in winter
Aku (skipjack tuna)
Aku is commonly known as skipjack tuna. Other names for this species include striped tuna, oceanic skipjack and katsuo. This near-surface schooling tuna is widely distributed across the Pacific Ocean.
Ulua (giant Trevally)
The Ulua is normally caught from the shoreline; however, it can be caught from a boat by plug casting, deep jigging, drifting baits or slowly trolled lures close to shore. These fish reach weights well over 100 pounds.
Opah or moonfish (Lampris regius) is one of the most colorful of the commercial fish species available in Hawaii. A silvery-grey upper body color shades to a rose red dotted with white spots toward the belly. Its fins are crimson, and its large eyes are encircled with gold. The moonfish's large, round profile may be the origin of its name. Moonfish landed in Hawaii range from 60 to over 200 pounds in round weight. A pelagic wandering species, it is often found in the company of tunas and billfish.
Onaga (red snapper)
Onaga (Etelis coruscans) is one of Hawaii's fish better known by its Japanese name than by its Hawaiian name, ula`ula. It is also called ruby snapper or longtail snapper. This bottomfish is caught in deep waters (100-180 fathoms), especially around outcroppings along rocky bottoms. Most of the onaga caught off the Hawaiian Islands range in size from 1 to 18 pounds. Onaga caught in the South Pacific are often larger.
Opakapaka (pink snapper)
Opakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus) is commonly known as crimson snapper or Hawaiian pink snapper, although its skin is light brown. Opakapaka are usually caught at depths between 30 and 100 fathoms. Fish caught over hard bottoms have brighter skin colors than those caught over soft bottoms.
Although this species occurs throughout the tropical Pacific, nowhere does it grow as large as in the Hawaiian Islands. When a new opakapaka fishing area is discovered, the initial size of fish caught may be 12 to 18 pounds. Opakapaka of this size could be at least 10 years old.
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Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
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