Hawaii Fishing License: A Guide for Anglers

Hawaii Fishing License: A Guide for Anglers

Are you planning a fishing adventure in the beautiful waters of Hawaii? Before you cast your line, it’s crucial to understand the state’s fishing license requirements and regulations. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about obtaining a Hawaii fishing license, whether you’re a resident or a visitor, and provide essential tips for an enjoyable and responsible fishing experience.

Do You Need a Fishing License in Hawaii?

The short answer is: it depends on where you plan to fish and what type of fishing you’ll be doing. Here’s a breakdown:

Saltwater Fishing

As of February 2024, Hawaii requires all non-resident anglers over the age of 15 to obtain a saltwater fishing license. This new regulation aims to support the state’s efforts in managing its marine resources effectively. Residents of Hawaii are exempt from needing a saltwater fishing license.

Freshwater Fishing

For those looking to fish in Hawaii’s lakes, streams, and reservoirs, a freshwater fishing license is required for all anglers over the age of 9, regardless of residency status. This applies to popular freshwater fishing spots like Koke’e State Park in Kaua’i and Wahiawā Public Fishing Area in O’ahu.

Types of Fishing Licenses and Fees

Hawaii offers several types of fishing licenses to cater to the needs of different anglers:

Non-Resident Saltwater Fishing License Fees

  • 1-day license: $20
  • 7-day license: $40
  • Annual license: $70

Freshwater Fishing License Fees

  • Minor (ages 9-15): $4
  • Resident (16 and older): $6
  • Non-resident: $26
  • 7-day tourist: $11
  • 30-day tourist: $21
  • Senior (65+): $1

Note that an additional entry permit is required for fishing at the Wahiawā Public Fishing Area, which can be obtained for free when purchasing your freshwater fishing license.

Where to Purchase Your Hawaii Fishing License

You can easily purchase your Hawaii fishing license online through the official Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources website. Alternatively, licenses are available for purchase in person at authorized license agents across the state.

Fishing Regulations in Hawaii

To ensure the sustainability of Hawaii’s unique marine ecosystem, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the state’s fishing regulations. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Size and Bag Limits

Hawaii enforces size and bag limits for various fish species to prevent overfishing and maintain healthy populations. For example, the minimum size for ‘ama’ama (striped mullet) is 11 inches, and the bag limit is 10 per person per day. Always refer to the Hawaii Fishing Regulations for the most up-to-date information on size and bag limits for specific species.

Protected Species

Certain species, such as sharks, rays, and turtles, are protected under Hawaii state law. It is illegal to capture, kill, or harass these animals. If you accidentally catch a protected species, release it immediately and carefully to minimize harm.

Prohibited Fishing Methods

Hawaii prohibits the use of certain fishing methods that can be destructive to the marine environment or lead to overfishing. These include:

  • Explosives
  • Electrofishing devices
  • Poisonous substances
  • Intoxicating substances
  • Firearms

Stick to traditional fishing methods like rod and reel, handline, and spears to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience.

Closed Seasons

Some fish species have closed seasons to protect them during spawning periods and allow populations to recover. For example, ‘ōpelu (mackerel scad) has a closed season from April through August. Always check the current fishing regulations for any seasonal closures before planning your fishing trip.

Best Fishing Spots in Hawaii

Hawaii offers a wide range of fishing opportunities, from the pristine shorelines to the deep, blue waters of the Pacific. Here are some of the top fishing spots across the islands:


  • Waianae Coast: Known for its excellent shore fishing, the Waianae Coast is a favorite among local anglers. Target species include pāpio (juvenile trevally), ‘ōmilu (bluefin trevally), and ulua (giant trevally).
  • Waikiki Beach: While primarily a tourist destination, Waikiki Beach offers surprisingly good fishing opportunities. Cast your line from the shore or join a charter to catch ono (wahoo), mahimahi, and aku (skipjack tuna).


  • Kā’anapali: This beautiful stretch of coastline is a prime spot for shore fishing. Look for pāpio, ‘ōmilu, and ulua near the rocky outcroppings and sandy channels.
  • Molokini Crater: Take a boat trip to this partially submerged volcanic crater for an unforgettable fishing experience. The deep waters around Molokini are home to ahi (yellowfin tuna), ono, and mahimahi.


  • Nāpali Coast: The rugged and remote Nāpali Coast is a haven for both shore and boat fishing. Target pāpio, ‘ōmilu, and ulua from the rocky shoreline, or venture out to deeper waters for ono, ahi, and mahimahi.
  • Wailua River: As the only navigable river in Hawaii, the Wailua River offers unique freshwater fishing opportunities. Cast your line for peacock bass, smallmouth bass, and tilapia.

Big Island

  • Hilo Bay: This sheltered bay is a favorite among local anglers for its abundant fish populations. Shore fishing can yield pāpio, ‘ōmilu, and ulua, while boat fishing can produce ono, ahi, and mahimahi.
  • Kona Coast: The calm, clear waters of the Kona Coast are world-renowned for big game fishing. Join a charter to target marlin, ahi, ono, and spearfish in the deep, blue waters off the coast.

Responsible Fishing Practices

As an angler in Hawaii, it’s your responsibility to help preserve the state’s unique marine environment for future generations. Follow these guidelines for a sustainable and ethical fishing experience:

  • Practice catch and release whenever possible, especially for undersized or out-of-season fish.
  • Use circle hooks to minimize harm to fish and increase the chances of survival upon release.
  • Properly dispose of fishing line, hooks, and other gear to prevent wildlife entanglements.
  • Respect other anglers and ocean users by maintaining a safe distance and avoiding conflicts.
  • Support local conservation efforts by reporting any illegal fishing activities to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.


Fishing in Hawaii is an incredible experience that offers a chance to connect with the islands’ rich marine heritage and natural beauty. By obtaining the proper fishing licenses, following regulations, and practicing responsible angling, you can ensure a memorable and sustainable fishing adventure in the Aloha State. So grab your gear, respect the ocean, and get ready to cast your line in the pristine waters of Hawaii. Tight lines!

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