Sport Fishing Charters In Hawaii: What to Look For and How to Decide

Introduction to Sport Fishing Charters

Sport Fishing, or deep sea fishing, is fishing that takes place in the ocean, far from land. To qualify as deep sea fishing, the boat must be at least 30 meters from shore. Deep sea fishing allows fishermen and fisherwomen the opportunity to catch more exotic fish than shallow water fishing, such as tuna or shark.

Continue reading to find out what you should look for in a sport fishing charter and how to choose a type of fishing charter. If you’ve never been sport fishing, you’ll want to put in some extra research to make sure you book the experience that’s most suited to your needs.

What to Look for in a Sport Fishing Charter

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a sport fishing charter. Are you looking for an intimate and unforgettable experience with close friends and family, or just looking to try out something new for a day? When it comes to deep sea fishing, there are several options to choose from.

Types of Sport Fishing Charters

The type of sport fishing charter you choose will contribute to a different experience. A party charter may be less expensive, but you’ll need to be comfortable being around strangers in a tight space. There’s no changing your mind once you set sail, so carefully consider the overall experience you’re hoping for.

Private Charters

If you’re in the mood to fish with people you know and are comfortable with, or looking for a more individualized experience, choosing a private charter is your best option. With a private charter, you get more access to the captain and get to decide who you want to bring with you. A private charter is ideal for gatherings like a bachelor/bachelorette parties, as well as big families looking for a personal, or specific, fishing experience.

Private charters offer many different kinds of deep sea fishing, including, but certainly not limited to, trolling and bottom feeding. Speak to the captain beforehand about the kind of fishing you’re interested in and he can better accommodate you on a private charter, taking the time of year and weather conditions into account.

Private charters can be expensive, but that is the reality of deep sea fishing. Storing, maintaining, and fueling a boat is an extremely expensive endeavor, and on top of that, a captain is responsible for licensing and insurance fees. In fact, if you are looking at a charter that’s much cheaper than the rest, you have to consider what they’re not paying for—whether it’s employing an under-qualified crew or operating an old boat in bad condition.

If you only want to share this unforgettable experience with those closest to you and want your choice of vessel and captain, a private fishing charter is your best option.

Shared Charters

A shared or group charter is ideal if you’re looking for a more private fishing experience, but are open to splitting the cost with a small group of strangers looking for a similar experience as you.

Shared charters are reserved through a booking agent who gathers an appropriate amount of people looking to be out on the boat for the same amount of time. It’s less expensive than a private charter, but you may miss out on getting the boat or captain you were hoping for. Priority is given to people booking private charters, so if a private charter has requested the same boat as you, the people booking the private charter will win out.

If you don’t have a specific preference when it comes to your captain or boat, and you are interested in making friends, booking a shared charter is the right choice for you.

Party Charters

A party charter doesn’t mean the same thing as a party bus. When it comes to sport fishing, a party charter simply refers to the large number of people on the boat with you. A party charter is the most affordable way to deep sea fish since the cost is split so many ways. If you have a large party of people, it can be a cost-effective way to experience sport fishing.

That being said, depending on the size of the vessel, a party charter can hold upwards of 100 people, including children and folks just interested in taking a ride out into the ocean. If you book a party charter, be prepared to bump some elbows. You’ll be spending your day in close proximity to a large number of people you likely haven’t met before.

The number of people on a party charter also affects the amount of attention the captain and deck crew can devote to each person.

If you’re looking for a structured, tourist-friendly type of experience, a party charter can be a great time. If you’re looking for something more personalized and adventurous, consider booking a private or shared charter.

Other Sport Fishing Charter Considerations

Booking Direct vs Through An Agent or Directory

As you research different charter types and providers, you may find sites that list a wide variety of options. Booking directly with the charter providers has many benefits; you’ll get the best prices and the best service. When you book through a third party agent, they take a fee, then book your reservation with your chosen charter captain. If that charter is full, there are often gaps in communication or you may get sent to another boat you didn’t choose. Booking direct is always your best option. 

Time of year

If you’ve got a specific fish in mind, do your research beforehand on when that fish is in season, or if that fish is even available to catch in your area. For example, the best time to sport fish for Yellowfin Tuna or Blue Marlin in Hawaii is June through August, whereas Striped Marlin and Snapper is more plentiful in the winter months.

Charter Duration

Another consideration is the amount of time you’re prepared to spend on the water. The longer your charter, the more fish you’re likely to see, as the variety increases the deeper you get into the ocean. For example, if you are hoping to catch Tuna or Marlin, consider opting for a full-day or overnight charter.

Charter location

What kind of experience are you looking for and what fish are you hoping to find?

There are many popular destinations for deep sea fishing, among them Hawaii, Mexico, South Africa, and Thailand. But each location can have a different variety of fish and different rules surrounding the type of fishing available. Phuket, Thailand, has an abundance of billfish and queenfish, but has a catch and release rule that is strictly enforced. If you’re hoping to keep the fish you catch, Phuket is not an ideal choice.

In Hawaii, depending on the season, you will find a wide variety of fish. Most notably, Hawaii has plenty of Mahi Mahi and Marlin, including Pacific Blue Marlin and Black Marlin, as well as Wahoo and a multitude of different Tuna, including Skipjack and Yellowfin.

Booking a Sport Fishing Charter

We can’t speak for every fishing charter, but we imagine many of them feel the same—we want you to have to best possible experience when you sport fish with us. It’s the experience of a lifetime that you won’t forget anytime soon.

Make the most of your deep sea fishing day by thoroughly researching charter options before you book. This includes the charter company, the captain, and the type of fishing charter you want to go out on.

If you’re on Oahu, Hawaii, take a look at our charter options. Not in Hawaii? Consider Oahu as the destination for your next holiday in paradise. 🌺