December 3, 2023

Hardcore Game Fishing

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The Beginner’s Guide To Fishing in Kauai

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Unparalleled beauty and exceptional fishing opportunities are synonymous with the oldest Hawaiian island – Kauai. The dramatic nature of the “Garden Isle” is so mesmerizing that Jurassic Park was filmed here. If Hollywood couldn’t resist it, how can you? Blend that scenic charm with a rich underwater world and you’ll immediately understand why fishing in Kauai is a bucket list adventure.

With over a hundred miles of coastline, numerous streams, unspoiled fishponds, and clear access to the Pacific Ocean, Kauai fishing is an angler’s dream. Blessed with a variety of freshwater and saltwater species, this Hawaiian gem is everything you’ve ever needed. Be it posing with a picture-perfect Peacock Bass or testing your skills against mighty Tuna – Kauai has it all!

Hooked? We hope you are because we’ve prepared a handy guide for you. We’ll kick off with the precious catches and share tips on how to land them. You’ll also find out about the fishing spots. Finally, we’ll outline the most important regulations and be there for you if you have any additional questions. So without any further ado, let’s dive into the Kauai fishing universe.

What can I catch in Kauai?

Oh boy, where to start? Kauai’s waters are brimming with life. You can pretty much cast a line anywhere from the reservoirs to the deep blue and cross paths with some of the most interesting fish in the world. It’s simply impossible to name all the species that inhabit inland and offshore waters, but we’ll do our best to present the most fascinating ones.

Peacock Bass

We have to start somewhere, so why not with these inland celebrities? As a warm-up angling exercise, we recommend going after the famous Peacock Bass. Not only are they insanely photogenic and good-looking, but they’re also worthy freshwater opponents. Along with Big Island and Oahu, Kauai is a real Peacock Bass haven in the Hawaiian archipelago. 

An angler holding a big Peacock Bass caught inland while fishing in Kauai

Tucunare, as they’re known locally, were introduced to Hawaii’s ponds but only the major islands boast Peacock Bass fisheries. When fishing in Kauai for these magnificent creatures, you’ll want yourself in Wailua Reservoir, especially during summer. This is when they’re on the move and fishing is red hot. If you can’t find live mosquitofish, pack some jigs and get ready for the action!

Giant Trevally

Gradually moving from the inland waters towards the open ocean, you’ll come across an absolute nearshore star – Giant Trevally! Ulua, as they’re called here, is the name of the game inshore. Strong, sturdy, heavy, and large, Giant Trevally have all the traits of that trophy catch you’ve been looking for. Luckily for you, Kauai’s flats are abundant in GTs.

A female angler holding big Giant Trevally caught while fishing in Kauai, Hawaii

Giant Trevally are fearless rivals who aren’t afraid to break your line and heart. Gear up for tough love and bring rods that can withstand the relentless hits of these brutes. You have the entire year at your disposal to go after GTs. However, the period between May and August is prime time for pursuing them.


Are you hyped up to meet the big names? Fingers crossed you are because it’s time you jumped from the shallows of Kauai to the depths of the Pacific Ocean! These monsters draw crowds to the offshore waters of Hawaii and make for an incredible bragging story. We’re talking about none other than Tuna! Kauai is home to not one, not two, but three highly sought-after Tuna species.

An angler standing on a moving boat and holding Yellowfin Tuna caught while fishing offshore

Yellowfin, Bigeye, and Skipjack Tuna make themselves at home in these tropical waters. Yellowfin Tuna are the favorites, but Bigeye and Skipjack Tuna aren’t lagging behind in being loved by both seasoned anglers and first-timers. High-speed trolling in July is the winning Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna combo. Meanwhile, January brings an action-packed Bigeye Tuna season.


What on earth could possibly top Tuna? If you guessed Billfish, you’d be right! Tuna might be powerful and feisty, but Billfish are the true headliners offshore. These muscular acrobats are the ultimate game fish! They’re fast, furious, and won’t go down without a fight. Blue and Striped Marlin, Spearfish, Swordfish, and Sailfish all meander the offshore waters of Kauai.

An angler showing off Billfish he reeled in while fishing offshore

With the seafloor dropping to 1,000 feet within a couple of miles from shore, the Billfish pursuit is anything but tiresome here. What’s more, the fish love the FADs that surround the island, so locating them by trolling will be a child’s play. Overpowering them, however, is when the real challenge begins. Persevere and you’ll be rewarded with the sweet taste of victory like never before!

The Deep 7

This next group of bottom dwellers is so important that it has an entire category. Kauai’s fishing list simply wouldn’t be complete without them giving them their own dedicated section. “The Deep 7” is a gang of six Snapper varieties (Ruby, Pink, Silver Mouth, Oblique-Banded, Von Siebold’s, and Long-Tail Red Snapper) and one Grouper (Hawaiian).

An angler holding Long-Tail Snapper with a kid next to him

Out of these seven superstars, Pink and Long-Tail Snappers are the genuine VIPs. They’re popular among recreational angels due to their delicious meat and enviable game fish qualities. Then again, you won’t be able to suppress a triumphant smile whichever fish you reel in from this category. To enhance your Deep 7 experience, we recommend learning their Hawaiian names.

… And Much More!

Yes, there’s more! When we told you that Kauai’s waters were brimming with life, we weren’t kidding.  We actually just scratched the surface with the species we mentioned so far. Apart from vibrant Peacock Bass, freshwater fishing in Kauai offers the opportunity to go after Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill Sunfish, and Rainbow Trout.

A closeup of a Butterflyfish caught in Kauai held by an angler

While Tuna and Billfish are the highlights of offshore fishing, saltwater angling is much more than just its headliners. Followed by Wahoo and Barracuda, Instagram favorites like Mahi Mahi are always ready to put up a spectacular show. Are you into unusual fish? Say no more! Colorful reef residents like Goatfish, Butterflyfish, Saddle Wrasse, and Triggerfish are there to make your day. Now we’ll let you in on how to land these beauties.

How can I fish in Kauai?

Charter Fishing

The easiest way to move around the island is by hiring a local charter operator. A certified guide will help you explore the deep blue in search of your trophy fish. Not only will the crew take you where the fish are biting, but they’ll also help you land your dream catch. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Kauai fishing charter and have the time of your life.

A view of anglers on a boat charter fishing in the nearshore waters of Kauai

While Lihue and Kapaa are bigger and, thus, better equipped with fishing boats and top-notch captains, other parts of the island like Eleele and Princeville can brag about their excellent charter offer, too. Truth be told, any fishing guide in Kauai will share their knowledge and expertise with you, all while making sure you’re enjoying the local hospitality.

Shore Fishing

If you’d rather have the advantage of the fine sand under your feet and a scenic ocean view from the beach while fishing, then shore fishing is the right choice for you. You can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spend some quality time alone or with your loved ones. Shore fishing in Kauai is the perfect beach getaway!

A view of an angler shore fishing in Kauai from the beach

Kauai is blessed with gorgeous beaches and shoreline fishing spots. However, Anahola Bay is the favorite fishing destination among recreational anglers. While species that meander the inshore waters are plentiful there and you can land anything from Triggerfish to Needlefish, the catches are more impressive out in the open.

Kayak Fishing

Kauai kayak fishing is the ideal mixture of the charter’s ability to cover a larger area and the shoreline’s fishing tranquility. Kayak fishing enables you to absorb nature’s beauty and actively fish at the same time. While you can navigate a kayak at your own pace, once the big game bite, the action starts. The serenity from a few seconds ago just turned into a gripping adventure.

A sunset view from a kayak while kayak fishing in the offshore waters of Kauai, Hawaii

If you’re interested in what the ocean has to give, we recommend kayak fishing off Na Pali Coast between May and September. Wahoo and GTs will put your kayaking and angling skills to the test. If you’re more into inland ventures, the Wailua River might be a good starting point. You can always consult with the locals on how to go about your kayak fishing exploits.

Pier Fishing

Want to wet a line but the offshore depths of the Pacific Ocean or kayak and beach fishing don’t appeal? Don’t worry, Kauai has an option for you, too. The Garden Isle has a corner for every passionate angler and, if you’re an enthusiastic pier fishing fan, there are opportunities for you to go after your catch as well. 

A view of the fishing pier Waimea State Recreation Pier in Kauai

The two most popular fishing piers in Kauai are the Ahukini Recreational Pier to the east and Waimea Recreational Pier to the west of the island. Both piers are open to the public throughout the day and there aren’t any entrance fees. Waimea State Recreational Pier is better equipped and, apart from being ADA accessible, it also has restrooms and picnic areas in its vicinity. 

Where can I fish in Kauai?

As one of Hawaii’s major islands, Kauai is abundant in prolific fisheries. To help you narrow your search for the ideal fishing spot, we’ll outline leading departure points for your saltwater quest. If you’re more into lakes and rivers, we’ll include a recommendation for freshwater fishing grounds, too. On top of this, we’ll highlight everything on the map below and include spots on each side of the island to make your life easier. All in all, we have you covered.

An infographic showing a map of the island of Kauai and the best Kauai fishing spots like Princeville, Wailua, Nawiliwili Harbor, Port Allen Harbor, and Waimea
  • Princeville. If you’d like to try your luck with Peacock Bass and GTs at the same time, then Princeville is your perfect departure point. You can start with inland fisheries and move later towards the rich salt waters of Haena and Wainiha.
  • Wailua. Wailua Reservoir is Kauai’s freshwater fishing heaven. You can catch anything from Tucunare and Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass to Bluegill – as long as you have a valid fishing license and respect bag and size regulations. 
  • Nawiliwili Harbor. Kauai’s southeastern jewel is Nawiliwili Harbor. This is where you want to be if you’re after the big names. The harbor boasts top-notch Kauai fishing charters ready to take you offshore.
  • Port Allen Harbor. Less than 20 miles to the west and you’ll stumble upon Eleele and its Port Allen Fishery Management Area. Situated in the heart of the area, Port Allen Harbor is another good departure point for bluewater fishing. 
  • Waimea. Pier fishing fans – we hear you! Here’s a corner for you, too. Waimea Recreational Pier is a facility in Waimea Bay available to everyone who enjoys fishing from a pier. 

Kauai Fishing Regulations

An infographic with the flag of Hawaii and "Kauai Fishing Regulations" in white against a blue background

Depending on whether you’re heading offshore or focusing solely on the inland fisheries, different rules apply. A marine recreational fishing license, for example, isn’t necessary. However, you need to purchase a freshwater game fishing license if you plan to explore the reservoirs and streams of Kauai. Everyone aged 16 and older has to buy a freshwater fishing license before hitting the inland waters.

Apart from a valid permit, we recommend that you get familiar with the regulated fishing areas and their catch-related restrictions. You don’t want to end up bagging more Tucunare than it’s allowed or keeping Sharks instead of releasing them. The State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources has outlined fishing areas and their regulations on their website. For additional information, check out the FAQ section of the website, too.

Kauai: The Fishing Isle

A magnificent view of the greenery of the Na Pali coast in Kauai, Hawaii

Thanks to its unique location, climate, and natural resources, Kauai is a truly beautiful place to visit. Apart from being rightfully called the “Garden Isle,” Kauai could be easily crowned as the “Fishing Isle” as well. From tropical reef fish to intimidating deep blue giants, this fishing heaven has it all! Be it a freshwater or saltwater adventure, one thing’s for certain – Kauai is there to make your vacation memorable.

Have you ever been fishing in Kauai? Did you prefer inland or offshore angling? What did you catch? Tell us all about your experience in the comments below.

The post Fishing in Kauai: A Beginner’s Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Tanya
Title: Fishing in Kauai: A Beginner’s Guide
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Published Date: Fri, 27 May 2022 14:28:00 +0000

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