Fly fisherman from all over the world dream of catching a bonefish in Hawaii. In fact, our islands are teeming with bonefish ranging from 5 – 12 pounds and even up to 32 inches in length. Fly fishing in Hawaii extremely technical. Even the most minute detail can make all the difference in whether or not you can hook one of these elusive bonefish.
There are 8 major islands making up the state of Hawaii, along with a myriad of smaller islands and altos extending 1,500 miles to the north west. Of the 8 main Hawaiian Islands, each island differs geographically. Some islands have more flats and accessible fishing areas than others. Flat, sandy, shallow areas with coral and rocks are ideal for fly fishing. Certain sides of the islands experience different conditions throughout the day, depending on wind patterns and topography. The northern sides of the islands, usually bombarded by heavy surf, are less likely to have ideal fishing areas for bonefish.
If we were to rank the top 5 Hawaiian Islands, as far as bone-fishing is concerned, Oahu would rank number one. Factoring in the amount of accessible fishing area, number of fish, and weather conditions, Oahu is the ideal place for killer fly fishing. The flats around Hawaii Kai, Kaneohe Bay, and some areas on the North shore provide perfect sight fishing opportunities for these giant Hawaiian bonefish. Compared to other islands, these areas are more accessible throughout the entire day, allowing for sight fishing or fishing during the golden hour. There are five different guide companies on Oahu, to include Fly Fishing Hawaii, which is more than any other island.
At a close second to Oahu is Molokai. This island has long stretches of flats with an abundance of bonefish. Because there are less fly fisherman here, the fish face less pressure and see less flies, making them much more likely to bite. I have only been fishing on Molokai once when I went out on the flats with Travis a guide at Fishing From the Beach Hawaii. It could have just been the day, but every fish we casted at bit the fly. These bonefish are hungry. The fly doesn’t even have to look good and they’ll eat it. I have been told that during the afternoon or high tides, trade winds whip across the island at extraordinary speeds, turning up the water, and decreasing visibility. However, judging from my experience, the fishing on Molokai is superb.
Fishing on Maui is completely different from fishing on Oahu or Molokai. Many guests travel to Maui and ask if there are any good guides. One of the best is John John at Local Fishing Knowledge. He will take you to the places where bones hang out. The chances of you seeing and sight fishing for these bones can be relatively low, but still possible with the right guide on certain areas of the south side of the island. As far as ranking is concerned, I would put Maui below Oahu and Molokai, but still somewhere in the top 5.
It is true that Hawaii is crawling with bonefish. However, hooking them is another story. Because of the level of difficulty and technicality involved, location is one of the biggest factors. If you’re traveling to Hawaii looking to catch a bonefish, go with a local guide, practice your casting, and be sure to consider how the factors at each island may affect your odds. Next time you are traveling to Hawaii, knowing the difference in bone-fishing on each island will help you plan your vacation and fishing trip.