Kauai Fishing Grounds
Deep water surrounds the island of Kauai as sharply as the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, and as a consequence, the Mahi Mahi, Ono and Ahi, usually found at sharp drops and pinnacles, are much closer to shore than on the other islands. The FADS are also close to shore and since the Marlin like the waters where the FADS are placed, the fishing begins just outside the harbor.
Nawiliwili harbor, only a ten minute drive from the Lihue Airport, is the principal harbor, but don’t head to the docks looking for a fleet of booth attendants waiting to sell you a trip. There are no booths, no handbill passers, and with the exception of the phone numbers posted on the boats themselves, there’s almost no way to determine if any of the boats even run charter operations. In fact, it took a rather substantial act of willpower by a few determined skippers to even have a sign erected at the automobile entrance suggesting there was charter fishing in the harbor.
For the most part, Nawiliwili is commercial ship facility with a private boat harbor shoved into the corner, and there are a few charter operations running out of it. There are about ten charter operators on the island spanning three different harbors, but don’t let the small fleet fool you. Most of the charter fleets run at least six days a week, and advanced reservations are strongly recommended, because the boats are almost always filled. While the hotels book a good portion of the trips, seasoned anglers should consider a reputable booking agency to discuss seasonal variances in weather, fish availability, and seaworthiness of the operations.
Once a trip is booked, anglers are seldom disappointed. From Nawilwili, the boats run from Anahola to Makahuena along the 40 fathom and 1000 fathom ledges. It literally takes 10 minutes to be in the fishing grounds, and your trip will be spent fishing instead of running to and from a place where you think fish might actually exist.
At Anini beach on the North side near Princeville, the grounds are even closer. Here you will be fishing for Mahi Mahi, Ono and Ahi at the pinnacles within a mile of the harbor, and Marlin country is at the FADS just outside of that. It’s also fun to bottomfish with live bait and light tackle on this side, so there is usually something for everyone when fishing Kauai crosses one’s mind.
The seas on Kauai can be a little more rugged than on the other islands. Unlike Kona where mighty Mauna Kea blocks any wind coming from the East, West Maui where Lahaina exists in a virtual windless desert, and Leeward Oahu that lays in the protection of the Waianae mountain range, Kauai is a round island with no real place to hide when the weather picks up. However, its deep water close to shore and relatively light fishing pressure means a higher abundance of fish than might be found in other areas.
Another word that describes fishing off the coast of Kauai is resplendence. When is comes to scenery, Kauai offers tall, jagged sea cliffs, deep, lush valleys, rain forest covered mountains, and pouring waterfalls worthy of the film industry. In fact, the scenery is so beautiful that while you work the 40 fathom ledge off Kipukai, you will be able to see the areas where movies such as "From Here to Eternity", "Jurassic Park," and Harrison Ford’s "Six Days, Seven Nights" were at least partially filmed. Of course, we suggest you don’t stare at the hills for too long, otherwise you might miss the bite on the rods and forget why it was you chartered the trip in the first place.
If short trips to the grounds, good fishing and a real good shot at hooking a nice-sized Marlin are in your plans for a vacation in Kauai, then book your trip early for the best selection of boats. You will have a ball fishing on Kauai!