The 7 Best Fish to catch in Hawaii this Summer

Written by Crystal
Published: September 6, 2022
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Hawaii is famous for harboring various fish species that are challenging to catch. Some of these fish can weigh over 200 pounds! Now that’s a trophy-sized weight. Can you imagine what it’d feel like making that catch?

You can make your Hawaii angling dreams a reality with the right preparation and gear. It starts with deciding what type of fish you’ll target this summer. When you know the fish you want, you can prepare like never before!

Read on to discover the 7 best fish to catch in Hawaii this summer. 

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1. Blue Marlin

Mounted Blue Marlin
Blue marlin can weigh over 200 pounds.


Catch a fish with a legendary status, the blue marlin. The blue marlin is known for being ornery, strong, and relentless. To stand a chance of making a catch, you’ll have to up your game. There’s no room for error. Successful anglers are the ones who read the water, use proper rigs and baits, and prepare their tackles.

Summer is the best time to catch these pelagic creatures. They hang out around deep drop-off edges near underwater canyons. Also, they swim around islands with steep drop-offs, like Hawaii. It’s one of the best blue marlin hot spots.

Eventually, you’ll either troll baits, lures, or a combo of both. The best marlin trolling involves putting out a spread of rigger baits, freeline baits, and flatlines. After you hook a big blue, get ready for battle. Occasionally, the battle lasts for hours, and your catch could weigh over 200 pounds!

2. Mahi-Mahi

A Mahi Mahi caught on a fishing lure
Mahi Mahi have a dorsal fin extending from the tip of their head to the tail.

©Jason Richeux/

Dolphinfish and Dorado are a couple of nicknames for one of Hawaii’s most popular fish, Mahi-Mahi. They’re known for having vibrant colors of yellow, green, and blue. Their colors change based on their environment and instinct. It’s almost like they’re a mood ring swimming around the ocean.

You can easily identify these fish by their colors and long dorsal fin. The fin extends from the tip of their tail to the tip of their head. They’re one of the fastest-growing saltwater fish and can easily weigh over 50 pounds.

For the most action, you’ll want to fish around the weed lines. When a specific type of seaweed, sargassum, forms the lines, you’ll find mahi there. Sargassum is a brown-orange seaweed that clumps together. The aquatic vegetation is the perfect habitat for baitfish, making it a gamefish feeding ground.

3. Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tuna out in the open ocean in crystal clear blue water
Poppers work well for catching yellowfin tuna.

©Al McGlashan/

You can use a variety of lures and baits, coupled with different techniques for catching yellowfin tuna. They’re on the list of the best fish to catch in Hawaii because of their availability. There are lots of them, and they swim in schools.

If you find a school of feeding fish, cast lures into them. Try poppers first, and use a pop-pop-pause rhythm. One of the best poppers is the Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull. Present it quickly to get the tuna all fired up!

Metallic colors also work well when the fish are in deep waters. Finally, if you find a small school of fish, try using sardines. Squid is also a popular baitfish. 

4. Wahoo

A fisherman holding a wahoo fish
Trolling is one of the best techniques for catching wahoo.

©Fabien Monteil/

Is trolling for fish your favorite technique? Then you’ll love catching wahoo in Hawaii. High-speed trolling is one of the best ways to reel in regular catches. Also, you can try slow trolling live bait or trolling underneath floating debris.

Overall, whatever speed you’re going, trolling is the smartest choice since wahoo are big and fast. If you decide to go fast, try using a 6 lure spread. Thankfully, this method works well even if you have a small boat.

Wahoos usually bite right below the surface. The 6 lures will be able to cover different parts of the water at different speeds. When the wahoo strikes, clear everything shorter than the hooked fish. If the shortest lure is bitten, you won’t need to clear anything.

After assessing the lines, turn toward the fish, so it doesn’t tangle with the other lines. Be patient, and you’ll be able to reel it in. Get ready to take a victory photo!

5. Swordfish

Marlin vs Swordfish - Swordfish Jumping Out of Water
Swordfish swim in depths of 300-400 feet at night.


Do you want to target the fiercest predator in the ocean? Then go after a swordfish this summer. A lot of anglers have swordfish on their bucket list, and for good reason too. Catching one of these fish requires skill, patience, and unrelenting determination. You’ll also need the right type of fishing gear and electronics.

Swordfish live deep in the water; we’re talking thousands of feet deep. Most of them are less than 5 years old, with 2-year-old swords being the most abundant.

If you’re fishing at night, you can find swordfish closer to the surface, but still deep. It’s normal to find nighttime swordfish in depths of 300-400 feet.

Bump trolling is one of the best ways to catch them. You can try a breakaway sinker method if there’s a strong current. Get ready for a fight once one bites. Swordfish are even stronger than the mighty blue marlin. 

6. Sailfish

Fastest Sea Animal: Sailfish
Sailfish feed around the edges of reefs.

©A Cotton Photo/

If you’re targeting swordfish, go for the gold and add sailfish to your list too. It’s another famous species and one of the best fish to catch in Hawaii this summer. You can find sailfish in deep waters over 5 fathoms deep. They’re pelagic and migratory fish. You’ll usually find them swimming alone or in very small groups.

A lot of sailfish choose to feed around the edges of reefs. You can also catch them around floating debris, shoals, and wrecks. The best methods include drift fishing, saltwater trolling, and still fishing. The best tackle and bait include live bait and spoons. 

7. Skipjack

Fastest Sea Animal: Bonito
Aku tuna has a strong flavor.

©funny face/

A cousin of the yellowfin, Aku tuna has a lot of nicknames. But most anglers refer to this saltwater species as skipjack tuna. It’s the perfect fish to target if you want a relaxing day of fishing. Some of the best places to find skipjack in Hawaii include Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Unlike intense marlins or swordfish, this is a good fish for beginners to target. Aku swim in large schools, are easy to catch, and respond to different baits. However, unlike yellowfin tuna, they’re relatively small.

Once you catch one, you’re in for a robust meal. The meat is different, strong, and requires a lot of spices and salt to taste right. In Japan, they sear aku tuna. You could also pan-fry it or grill it up for lunch. 

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About the Author

Crystal is always looking to learn more, and share her finds with you along the way. It's amazing how you can spend your entire life living with plants and animals, but still know so little about them! Let's explore our world together as Crystal covers topics about creatures, places, and experiences.

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