Frequently Asked Questions
This is a general Maui fishing FAQ
A PRIVATE fishing charter means that only your party will be on board. And, of course, the captain and crew! Just you and your wife/friends, typically up to 6 people total.
If you have say, two couples in your party, you're better off to take the boat privately because 4 SHARE tickets will usually cost within a few dollars of the private rate anyway. This also allows you more flexibility to either cut a trip short (don't expect a pro rated refund!) or stay out longer (yeah, you'll probably have to pay for the extended time), though the captain always has the last say on these issues.
A SHARE boat means that the vessel arranges it so you split the cost of the charter with other people who are unknown to you.
Say you and your wife wanted to go fishing for a day, but didn't want to pay $950 to $1,300. You book 2 seats on a SHARE boat basis at, say, $200 each. The vessel will try to put 2-4 other people on board with you.
Share boat fishing charters don't target anything differently. The boats usually run 6 rods and if a fish bites your rod, you get to fight it.
Most of the Maui fishing boats listed in this site are licensed to carry six passengers. Some of them do not do "shares". There are no boats here that do strictly shares, like the 'head' boats out of CA or FL.
Drawbacks of Share Boats:
- You don't get to choose who goes out fishing with you. You might get stuck with whiners, barfers, drunks or other less than desirable fishing buddies. You're also then tied to their schedules. Say your on a hot bite or fighting a big marlin, and "Joe Whiner" has a tee time or a plane to catch. The captain will often have no choice, but to force the issue by leaving the bite or breaking your marlin off!
- Virtually all the boats that do shares require a minimum of 4 passengers to confirm a trip. They may "bump" a share boat, in favor of a private, if their minimum has not been met. Let's say you and your wife sign up for next Weds. On Saturday, a party calls and requests a private charter for that same Weds.. If the boat has no other people signed up with you, they may cancel your reservation (you will be notified, and your deposit or payment will be refunded).
It's not a matter of giving preference to private charters. If you booked a party of 4 they would not bump your charter for a private. None of the boats will 'guarantee' to run a charter that doesn't cover the costs, meaning having the minimum # of passengers.
All of the fishing boats on Maui have a 24-72 hr. cancellation policy. Though a boat may have the minimum when you book, there is the possibility that someone may cancel a few days before the charter, dropping the count below the minimum. If they aren't able to get the minimum back, or a private comes up before that happens, you get bumped.
Naturally, fishing boats with good catch records attract more privates. This doesn't mean that you can't get a good boat on a share basis, but it does require more flexibility as to which vessel and which dates.
- Few of the charter companies that have more than one boat will say which of their boats you will go out on if you book on a share basis. Most often, they will place their shares on the #2 or #3 boat, which is usually smaller or slower or older, etc..
I'm sure they have economic reasons for doing this, but I personally don't agree with this policy. If I were making a reservation, I would want to know exactly which boat I was going out on. If they charged less for their #2 boats, I could understand it. This policy seems too much like a 'bait n switch' to me.
If you inquire about a share trip with one of these companies, I will inform you again of this policy, and probably recommend that you book with a single boat company
- Murphy's Law (The Share Boat Corollary): The least desirable of your fishing buddies will catch the big one of the day!
The longer you fish, the better the odds!
The "bite" moves constantly. There are days that the bite is very close to the harbors and there are days that the bite is two hours away, and there is no way to predict that in advance.
The best chance of catching big game fish is on an 8 hour charter. We recommend that you charter for a minimum of 6 hrs.
Departure times vary from boat to boat, with the earliest leaving at 0330 hrs. The average departure time is around 0530 hrs. If you are booking a private charter, you may request a departure time that fits your schedule better. Bear in mind, few captains will change departure times for share boats. Afternoon charters depart around 12:30.
Do I have to make a reservation, or can I just show up at the harbor?
How far in advance should I make a reservation?
How do I make a sportfishing reservation?
It is highly unlikely that you will be able to just show up at the harbor without a reservation and find a decent sportfishing boat to take you out.
Certain times of the year are extremely busy on Maui!
Some of these are "no brainers" like: Christmas (December 20th through January 10th); Spring Break (early to late March); Memorial Day weekend; 4th of July weekend etc.. There are also a number of fishing tournaments, such as the World Cup (4th of July), the Pro-Am Hawaiian Billfish Tournament, the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (August), the Lanai Rendezvous (September), the Lahaina Jackpot Tournament (late October). These tournaments run anywhere from 1-5 days. Many of the boats shut down to prepare for them a few days in advance, and often a day or two after. During those periods, not only are many of the better boats unavailable, but their 'dance cards' are extremely full for the 2 weeks on either side of the tournaments.
Maui hosts many large convention/incentive groups. IBM, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Glaxo, Chevy, Digital, etc. etc. often bring in hundreds of people, and book all of the boats for days. Obviously, the hotels/airlines offer them good rates to come here in the slower weeks.
Other factors, such as the severity of the winter, storms, natural disasters, and political or economic unrest in other areas, can affect how busy Maui is.
So, how far in advance you book your fishing charter depends on your vacation schedule, choice of vessel, and that vessel's availability. If you are limited to one particular day, and prefer a particular vessel, then book far in advance; don't wait till you get here!
If you want to make an advance reservation, the boats will ask you for your credit card info, in lieu of a deposit. The card is typically not charged until the day of the charter. You can change (provided they have availability) or cancel your reservation no later than 24-72 hours before the charter without penalty. You also have the option to pay with cash, travel checks, or different credit card the morning of the fishing charter.
Read more about how to make a reservation on my reservation inquiries page.
Remember, this is a general FAQ! Be sure to ask about any policies which concern you before you make a reservation.
No reservation, share or private, is ever truly 'guaranteed'. It is wise to reconfirm your reservation a few days in advance and the evening before, as well.
A vessel may be forced to cancel a fishing charter due to weather (I actually had a client very upset because I wouldn't take him out during Hurricane Iniki!), mechanical failure, or other reasons beyond the control of the boat company. That company may be able to find you another boat, but that's not always possible.
We recommend 4-6 hr. fishing trips for those of you desiring to take young ones fishing. Two options are either a near shore light tackle trip (mahi mahi, ono, snapper, barracuda, trevally and the occasional shark), or a bottom fishing trip. They will almost certainly catch some fish on the bottom fishing trips, albeit smaller species. Email me. I'll fill you in. Very few fishing boats will take children under 6 years of age. Personally, as a father myself, and a professional captain, I have a hard time putting kids under 6 on ANY chartered fishing trip, regardless of the boat's policy. My own boat... my own kids, OK. But not on a charter.
You must be kidding!! If we could predict the weather, we could make a lot more money than we make sport fishing!
All kidding aside, passenger safety is always a captain's utmost concern. If you find the sea conditions not to your liking, you may request the captain to take you to calmer waters. However, refunds are not normally granted, should you make the decision to return to port. If anyone in your party is subject to motion sickness, we recommend they take appropriate medications or go shopping instead!
Here's a short page addressing Maui's weather and what it means to your Maui fishing trip.
Anything that bites!! Seriously, most of the boats target big game fish such as marlin (a'u), tuna (skipjack, aku, yellowfin ahi, kawakawa), wahoo (ono), and mahi-mahi (dolphin/dorado). The boats usually don't target any one particular species, but some captains have their "preferences". Contact me and I can help you find the right one. Here's a page briefly describing the most common types of game fish caught off Maui
Fishing is good year round in Hawaii. Some months tend to be more productive than others, especially for certain species. See my Maui fishing seasons chart listing frequently caught Hawaii game fish and their most abundant months in Hawaiian waters.
Maui's deep sea sport fishing boats mainly troll artificial lures at 7-9 knots. This allows them to cover large areas of water. This is important, as our target species are pelagic and constantly on the move. There is no such thing as a "honey hole" in big game fishing here.
Most boats do carry "natural" bait and will also live-bait in the appropriate situations.
I've visited some of the fishing forums and keep seeing references to fishing the bouys or FADs. What is a FAD?
READ THIS PAGE: Maui bottom fishing
READ THIS PAGE: shore fishing off Maui, Hawaii!
Unless your party plans to charter a vessel on a private basis, leave your fly rod behind. If you want to try fly fishing, make sure the captain is aware of that prior to booking!
Is there a chance that we might not catch anything sport fishing? What are the odds of us getting "skunked"?
Why do you think they call it "fishing" and not "catching"? There are no guarantees. Believe me, the crews' money is not made before they leave the harbor! These guys want to catch as many fish as they can, and a great deal of their work is done before and after a charter.
What can I do with the fish I catch?
Can I have it stuffed? Can I eat it? Can I send it home?
Can I sell it? What about 'tag and release'?
In Hawaii, it is customary to leave the catch with the captain and crew to help defray the high cost of lost/broken tackle. However, most of the guys will be happy to filet enough fish for the customers to have a fine fresh fish dinner.
There is one trolling outfit that will allow you to keep your entire catch. While they will filet the fish "for a nominal fee", they do not prepare the fish for shipping. We have no canning facilities on Maui and the airlines have guidelines for shipping fresh/frozen fish. State law prohibits you from selling your sport catch.
They can arrange to have your fish mounted.
Every vessel and captain has their own "tag and release" policy. Most, but not all, do encourage the release of smaller billfish. If this is a major concern of yours, discuss it with the captain prior to booking.
The boat provides equipment, bait, ice, and a guest cooler/refrigerator. No fishing license is required (yet!).
You need to bring your own food and beverages. You should obtain all your food and beverages the night before as there are few stores open in the early a.m.. Your hotel can provide a picnic lunch if you so desire. Most boats allow alcoholic drinks (I, myself, feel that hard liquor is inappropriate). Please refrain from bringing glass containers.
Don't bring bananas! They're considered bad luck on Hawaiian fishing boats!
When you board, ask the captain about the smoking policy. Some captains prohibit smoking in the cabin.
You should also bring a light jacket or cover-up, sunscreen, towel, important medications, camera, and your confirmation.
All of our boats use professional grade tackle ‚ generally, Penn International and/or Shimano Tiagra's. Use of personal tackle may be allowed on private charters at the captain's discretion, but it is never allowed on share trips.
Prices vary from boat to boat, and are more directly related to the costs of operating that vessel than to that vessel's catch history. A fast vessel with a ton of amenities, such as an air conditioned cabin, color TV, his/her heads, etc., will cost you more.
Prices for private fishing charters range from about $900-$1,300 for an 8 hr. trip. Prices for share boat trips average around $200 per person. Prices do not include gratuities, state excise tax (4.16%) or harbor fee (3%). Some vessels offer reduced rates for non-fishing passengers on share boats.
We've listed current charter prices where available, however, please reconfirm pricing when you make your reservation.
The captains and crews rely on their gratuities in the same way
cab drivers, wait persons and other service employees do.
You should tip accordingly, 10-20%.
Hey, wait a minute! I've got another question!?
Just drop me a line. If your question pertains to a particular boat,
be sure to state the name of that boat.
Whichever Maui fishing boat you choose,
we wish you GOOD FISHING!!!
“MURPHY'S LAW (The Shareboat Corollary): the least desirable of your fishing buddies will catch the big one of the day.”
~ Capt. Mike Crawford