Do You Need a Fishing License to Fish in Hawaii?

If you’re deep sea fishing off Hawaii’s coast, you don’t need a fishing license for recreational fishing. You will if you intend to do any freshwater fishing inland.

Out here, the vessels are the ones often registered for certain fishing permits. This is a more efficient way to do things because our popular tourism means many deep sea fishers pass through, but it’s the deep sea fishing vessels in Hawaii that are the regulars.

This said, there are regulations out there to pay attention to. These control such things as fishing seasons, preservation areas, and catch limits, and they’re important because they make sure the oceans off Hawaii aren’t fished out and barren for future generations. These regulations aren’t too strict. They’re reasonable and we can help you understand them when you talk to us about deep sea fishing off Hawaii’s coast.

Most of these rules revolve around minimum size requirements, so we’re taking mature fish instead of younger ones. This helps maintain the populations out there because younger fish have more spawning seasons left in them than mature ones. In other words, we leave the fish in the water that are likely to produce the most offspring we can fish in the future.

There are also bag limits on a number of species, such as the combined bag limit of 5 per day for the “Deep 7” bottom fish species. This is one group of fish for which the vessel has to have a permit.

There are also gear requirements for many fish. This helps avoid damage to the fragile ecosystem that can be done by less discriminate forms of fishing. This is why we like deep sea fishing off Hawaii. It’s more personal, just you and the fish.

Because of the year long regular temperatures, most fish here are year-round. This means there are closed seasons for only a very few fish: brief ones for the ‘ama’ama (December-March) and moi (June-August).

There are two fish that are absolutely prohibited from fishing: the uhu ‘ele’ele and the uhu uliuli. These are beautiful fish, and they must be protected for the time being.

What this all amounts to is that it’s fairly easy to fish in the Hawaiian oceans. The onus is on us to have our permits and inform you of what the rules are, which we’re happy to do. Most fish are fair game, so deep sea fishing off Hawaii’s coast is well worth the trip.