best bait for fishing in hawaii

Best Bait & Lures for Hawaii Shore Fishing to Catch More

Fishing in Hawaii is an unforgettable experience, offering a unique blend of stunning landscapes, diverse fishing opportunities, and a vibrant local culture.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the best bait for fishing in Hawaii and the target species you can expect to catch.

With this knowledge, you’ll be on your way to mastering the art of Hawaiian fishing and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Hawaii’s Target Species: A Fisherman’s Dream

Hawaii’s crystal-clear waters are home to a myriad of fish species, making it a top destination for anglers around the world. Here are some of the most sought-after species you can target while fishing in Hawaii:


Also known as the Dorado or Dolphin fish, Mahi-mahi is a favorite among both recreational and commercial fishermen for its vibrant colors and tasty meat. With their streamlined bodies and powerful tails, these fish are known for their acrobatic displays and high-speed runs when hooked.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tuna, or Ahi in Hawaiian, is a highly prized fish for its delicious taste and impressive size, often reaching over 300 pounds. These fast swimmers are a challenge to catch, making them a favorite target for experienced anglers.


Marlin is another popular game fish in Hawaii, with the blue marlin being the most common species found in these waters. Known for their size and strength, marlin are a true test of an angler’s skill and patience.

Ulua/Giant Trevally

Ulua, also known as Giant Trevally, is a tough and aggressive fish that can be found in the Hawaiian waters. Ulua fishing is an essential part of Hawaiian culture, and catching this powerful fish is a rite of passage for many local fishermen.

Now that you know the target species, let’s discuss the best bait options to increase your chances of landing a memorable catch.

Best Bait for Fishing in Hawaii: Hook, Line, and Sinker

Choosing the right bait is crucial for a successful fishing trip in Hawaii. Picking the appropriate bait for your target species will not only attract more fish, but also increase your chances of hooking them. Here are some of the most effective bait options for fishing in Hawaii:

Live Bait Options

Using live bait is often the most effective way to catch predatory fish, as it closely mimics their natural prey.

Octopus – The Best for Ulua Fishing

Octopus is considered the top choice for ulua fishing due to its scent, texture, and durability. Catching your own octopus bait is an essential part of the preparation process, and many anglers enjoy the thrill of hunting these elusive creatures.

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Other Live Bait Choices

Other popular live bait options in Hawaii include small fish species like mackerel, mullet, and opelu (Hawaiian mackerel scad). These baits can be effective for a variety of game fish, including tuna and marlin.

Cut Bait

Cut bait, such as squid and fish chunks, can also be an effective option for attracting fish in Hawaii. This type of bait is easy to obtain and can be used to target a wide range of species.


Artificial lures can be an excellent alternative to live or cut bait, especially if you’re targeting specific species or fishing in areas with limited bait availability.

Unscented and Scented Lures

Unscented lures, such as plastic swimbaits and soft plastic grubs, can be highly effective for catching fish in Hawaii. Adding scent to your lures with products like fish attractant sprays or scented soft plastic baits can further increase their effectiveness.

Spinning and Popping Plugs

Spinning and popping plugs are popular choices for topwater fishing in Hawaii, especially for targeting ulua and other surface-feeding predators. These lures mimic the movement of injured prey, drawing fish to the surface for an exciting strike.

Tips for Bait Preparation

Proper bait preparation is crucial for maximizing your chances of catching fish in Hawaii. If using octopus as bait, make sure to tenderize the meat by pounding it with a mallet or heavy object. This will release the octopus’s natural scent, making it even more enticing to your target species. When rigging live bait, be sure to hook it in a way that allows for natural movement, increasing its appeal to predatory fish.

With the right bait and knowledge of Hawaii’s target species, you’ll be well on your way to a successful fishing adventure in this island paradise.

Shore Fishing in Hawaii: Techniques and Tactics for a Memorable Catch

Shore fishing is a popular and accessible way to experience the thrill of catching fish in Hawaii. However, it presents unique challenges such as navigating through lines and rocky obstacles. Here are some techniques and tactics to help you succeed in your shore fishing endeavors:

Navigating Shoreline Challenges

Fishing from the shore requires a keen understanding of the local environment. Pay attention to the tide, current, and shoreline structure to determine the best locations and times to fish. Always exercise caution when navigating rocky shores and be mindful of local cultural and ecological sensitivities.

Casting and Paddling Out Baits for Ulua in Sandy Areas

In sandy areas, you can target ulua by casting or paddling out baits using a kayak. This method involves anchoring your bait in deeper waters, where ulua are more likely to be found. Be prepared for a long wait, as ulua are known for their stealth and patience when hunting prey.

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Slider Rig Use in Rocky Areas

When fishing in rocky areas, using a slider rig can be highly effective. This rig allows you to present your bait close to the rocky bottom without getting snagged. Attach a weight to a separate line, which slides freely on your main fishing line, to keep your bait at the desired depth.

Nighttime Fishing for Ulua

Nighttime is the prime time to fish for ulua, as they come into shallower waters to hunt for food. Set up your fishing spot with adequate lighting and be prepared for an exciting fight when the ulua takes your bait.

Popular Spots for Shore Fishing in Hawaii

Here are some popular shore fishing locations in Hawaii, each offering unique opportunities and challenges:

  1. Kona Coast: Known for its deep waters close to shore, the Kona Coast is a prime location for targeting ulua and other game fish.
  2. Kohala and Kona coasts: These areas are ideal for casting lures and fishing for pelagic species such as mahi-mahi, tuna, and marlin.
  3. Fringing reefs: These shallow, inshore coral reefs provide excellent opportunities to catch various reef fish species.
  4. Rocky and lava shores: These areas offer unique challenges and rewards for dedicated shore anglers, with the potential to catch ulua and other prized fish.
  5. Kailua Kona Fishing Pier: This popular fishing spot offers easy access and a variety of fishing opportunities, from casting lures to bottom fishing.
  6. Spencer Beach Park: This family-friendly beach park offers a sandy shoreline and opportunities to catch smaller fish species.

By mastering these techniques and tactics, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your shore fishing experience in Hawaii.

Gear Recommendations for Shore Fishing Success in Hawaii

Having the right gear is essential for a successful shore fishing trip in Hawaii. Here are some recommendations to help you land those trophy catches:

PENN Battalion II Surf Ulua Rod

This high-quality rod is designed specifically for ulua fishing, providing the strength and sensitivity required for battling these powerful fish.

Egg Weights

Egg weights are ideal for shore fishing, as they allow for long casts while minimizing the risk of snags. Choose a weight suitable for the conditions and target species.

Three-Way Swivel Setups

Using a three-way swivel setup can help you present your bait effectively while reducing the risk of tangles and snags. This setup is particularly useful when fishing in rocky areas.

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Reflective Tape

Applying reflective tape to your fishing rod can make it easier to spot at night, improving safety and convenience during nighttime fishing sessions.

Choosing Gear Appropriate for Family Fishing

When fishing with family members, especially children, it’s important to choose gear that is easy to use and appropriate for their skill level. Opt for smaller rods and reels, and consider using barbless hooks to minimize the risk of injury.

Hawaii Fishing Spots for Various Fishing Styles

Hawaii offers diverse fishing opportunities, catering to a range of angling styles. Here are some top spots for different types of fishing:

Deep-Sea Fishing

  1. Smoking Rock: Located off the Kona Coast, Smoking Rock is a deep-sea fishing hotspot, known for its abundance of marlin, tuna, and other pelagic species.
  2. Keahou Harbor: This harbor provides easy access to deep waters, making it an ideal starting point for a deep-sea fishing adventure.

Kayak Fishing

  1. Anaeho’omalu Bay/A-Bay: This sheltered bay offers calm waters and a variety of fish species, making it a great spot for kayak fishing.
  2. South Point/Ka Lae: Known for its strong currents and abundant fish life, South Point is a challenging but rewarding kayak fishing destination. Consider hiring a local guide for a safe and successful experience.

Family-Friendly Spots

  1. Casting Competitions: Participate in local casting competitions, which provide a fun, family-friendly way to improve your fishing skills and connect with the local fishing community.
  2. Tips for Engaging Kids in Fishing: Encourage children’s interest in fishing by teaching them about local fish species, conservation, and sustainable fishing practices. Provide them with age-appropriate gear and involve them in every step of the fishing process, from bait preparation to cooking the catch.

Conclusion: Reeling in the Hawaii Fishing Experience

Fishing in Hawaii offers a unique and unforgettable experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the right bait, techniques, and gear, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of Hawaiian fishing and creating lasting memories.

We invite you to share your own Hawaiian fishing experiences and tips in the comments below. Together, we can continue to learn and grow as anglers while enjoying the bountiful fishing opportunities that Hawaii has to offer.