Spearfishing is arguably one of the most ancient and environmentally friendly forms of fishing. Being an old fishing technique may have you thinking that it’s not as effective as other fishing techniques, but in fact, it’s one of the most fruitful techniques to this day.
Hawaii has been recognized as a very popular destination for spearfisherman because of the diversity of fish there in terms of type and size. Not only that but for the liberal spearfishing laws. What does that mean? It means that you don’t need a license or a permit for recreational marine fishing. The only regulations that govern spearfishing in Hawaii are basically species and size restrictions.
If you are an inhabitant of Hawaii or planning on visiting the big island for a vacation, spearfishing is a must-try experience. With that said, this article is going to help you discover the best locations for spearfishing, the different types of fish that you can catch, the different types of spearfishing, and the spearfishing regulations in Hawaii.
Spearfishing Hotspots in Hawaii
Honomalino beach is a secluded beach that’s 30 miles south of Kailua-Kona, just a short hike away from Miloli’i. This is a quiet and scenic beach with clear water that is home for a variety of tame fish. Almost all types of fish that will be discussed in this article can be found there. Honomalino beach is good for diving at any time of the day.
Keaukaha beach is one of the beaches located in Hilo. Technically, it’s not really a beach, it’s more of a lava rock shoreline. It’s also surrounded by plenty of freshwater springs, which makes the temperature of the water a bit cold. This beach is good for day and night dives. The only downside of the beach is that it’s infested with sharks. However, there are a number of sheltered areas that you can dive in.
Although notorious for its frequent shark attacks, this Kailua-Kona beach is great for quick dives. The presence of rock formations presents a great place for fish to hide in, which makes this beach one of the easiest places to hone your spearfishing skills. Swells oftentimes crash into the island which also makes it a great beach for surfing.
This beach is located on the Kona side, just south of Kealakekua Bay. This is another cool spot that consists of a rocky shoreline made of white coral rubble and lava rocks. The best part about this beach is the sandy channel that cuts right through the reef because it allows for great underwater visibility that will make your spearfishing experience a lot easier since you don’t really have to dive into the water. You’ll also enjoy the nice view of the Kealakekua cliffs that this beach offers.
This is another beach that’s on the Kona side of the island. This is an extremely popular hotspot for local surfers with plenty of vantage points that allow a great view of Hanalei Bay surfable breaks. The water is warm and clear almost all the time which allows for an abundance of fish to catch.
Popular Types of Fish
Goatfish is considered a delicacy in Hawaii and can be found near sandy beaches and reefs throughout spring and summer. They often dwell in depths up to 300 feet. Kumu fish have a very distinguished bright pink color. They can grow as long as 20 inches in length and usually weigh around 5 pounds.
Parrotfish are one of the most recognizable types of fish in Hawaii because of its green or turquoise rainbow color patterns and their fused-together teeth that resemble a parrot’s beak. They are found at coral reefs and rocky areas. They are also extremely abundant at the outer edges of reefs. Uhu fish are usually 2 feet in length and weigh around 15 pounds.
Kole Tang (Spotted Sturgeonfish)
The Kole Tang is a prominent member of the Tang family. It’s extremely easy to pick this fish when they’re not schooling. They have a dark brown look with small blue spots and yellow rings around their eyes. They can be found at reef areas at depths of around 150 feet. They can be as long as 7 inches and they weigh around 1 to 2 pounds.
Nairagi (Striped Marlin)
The Nairagi fish is probably the most popular type of fish among the marlin species. The color of their scales is royal blue above that fades to a silvery tone below. They have high pointed dorsal fins and vertical blue shapes on their sides. The striped marlin usually weighs anywhere from 25 to 150 pounds.
Manini (Convict Tang)
This fish is another member of the Tang family that is easy to catch. They often move in groups around the reef at about 90 feet deep, and they sleep under rock formations or in small holes, which makes the nighttime ideal for hunting them. The Manini have a silvery color with a yellowish tinge and black vertical lines. They can as long as 12 inches and generally weigh up to 3 to 4 pounds.
Kupipi (Blackspot Sergeant)
This grayish brown fish is a member of the sergeant family. This is an extremely solitary fish that likes chasing other fish away and does not enjoy any sort of company. The sides are usually marked with dark vertical bands. This is a super easy catch that lives at shallow rock crevices and boulder areas. They’re around 9 inches in length and generally weigh up to 1 pound.
Hawaii Spearfishing Regulations
Fishing Game License
It’s deemed unlawful to catch any fish without a fishing license. Children below the age of 9 don’t require a license and their catch will be considered as part of the catch acquired by the licensed adult supervisor. Where bag limits are applied, each licensee is allowed one bag per day.
It’s required by spear fisherman and other divers to mark the position with a dive flag, and they’re not allowed to surface a distance that exceeds 100 feet from the flag’s position in ocean waters except in the event of an emergency. dye flags that are displayed on the water’s surface must be at least 12 x 12 inches. In vessels that exceed 16 feet in length, the dive flag has to be a minimum 20 x 24 inches and displayed with a white and blue alpha flag. Take a look at our review on top dive flag/float recommendations.
Regulated areas include the island of Hawaii, O`ahu, Maui County, Kauai, and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine Refuge.
Spearfishing is permitted for all types of fish as long as they meet the size limits. The Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources publishes a comprehensive list of all regulated species and the appropriate size limits online.
Different Types of Spearfishing
Spearfishing from the Shore
Shore diving is the entering and exiting the water from headlands or beaches. It’s probably the most common form of spearfishing. Shore divers usually practice spearfishing at depths between 15 to 80 feet, depending on the location.
Divers often prefer to enter the sea from headlands because of their closeness to deep water. The time of the entry is highly considered by divers do that they don’t get in harsh contact with rocks. Entering the sea from the beach is a lot safer, but it presents the difficulty of diving through the waves until reaching the surf line.
Shore diving gives divers access to a variety of rock and kelpfish. Shore diving can be performed with pole spears and spearguns. It’s not advised to wear catch bags while diving because they can slow your movement down. An alternative is to tow a float and thread your catch on it.
Spearfishing from a Boat
Boats and kayaks are another way that’s commonly used to access islands or offshore reefs, especially when the location is close to the shore but can’t be accessed by land. The gear used for boat diving is pretty much the same as shore diving gear. It’s not advised to keep the spearguns loaded on the boat due to the dangers it might pose in cramped areas of the boat.
Blue Water Hunting
Bluewater hunting is increasingly gaining traction among experienced spearfishermen because of the level of excitement that it offers. It’s centered around accessing clear, deep water and chumming or trolling for game fish such as Tuna, Trevally, Wahoo, and Marlin.
Spearos utilize boats to reach their diving spot and the boat driver will usually let the divers drift in the current for a while before picking them up. Bluewater hunters can spend hours in the water without spotting any fish, the divers could suffer from sensory deprivation, which can cloud their judgment of a solitary fish and pose a serious threat to their life.
The tools blue water hunters use are also similar to the tools used in the previous types of diving, in addition to breakaway rigs and multi-band wooden guns. Hunters should have a second band gun in case they encounter a larger fish that won’t be subdued using a single gun.
Top Gear Recommendations
Here are a few of my top recommendations, I found super useful when spearfishing:
Spearfishing is an exciting sport for those of us who enjoy fishing and being submerged underwater. A little bit of patience and practice will have you on the edge of a satisfying experience that will never grow tiring or boring. Make sure you’re following all safety guidelines and regulations before embarking your next spearfishing trip.