Seasons & Limits in Hawaiian Freshwater Fishing

Hawaiian Islands and Freshwater Environments

Hawaii's major islands, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, and Hawai‘i, feature diverse freshwater environments due to their unique geographical and climatic conditions. The windward slopes of these islands are characterized by cliffs and valleys with high annual rainfall, resulting in many perennial streams. In contrast, the leeward slopes predominantly house intermittent streams. Despite the abundance of water, Hawai‘i hosts a limited variety of native freshwater fish, primarily four species of gobies and an eleotrid, known collectively as o‘opu. Additionally, two marine species, aholehole and mullet, occasionally venture into the lower stream reaches.

Lakes and Reservoirs

Hawaii boasts only five natural lakes, all relatively small. However, the landscape is dotted with 266 freshwater reservoirs created through stream impoundment, ranging up to 400 surface acres. These artificial habitats, unlike the native streams, are not well-suited to the native fish species but have become home to various introduced species.

Introduced Fish Species

Numerous fish species from different parts of the world have been introduced to Hawai‘i's waters, both deliberately and accidentally. High-quality game fishes such as largemouth bass, tucunare, and channel catfish have established themselves in reservoir waters. Some game fishes, notably the rainbow trout on Kaua‘i and smallmouth bass on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, inhabit both streams and reservoirs. Additionally, panfish like bluegill and tilapia are abundant in reservoirs, with several tilapia species also found in streams.

Fishing Regulations and Licenses

For fishing enthusiasts interested in Hawai‘i's freshwater species, it's important to note that a Freshwater Game Fishing License is required to catch introduced game species. Specific regulations apply to these species and to Public Fishing Areas. Selling introduced game species is illegal. For the most current and comprehensive fishing regulations, individuals should consult the Hawai‘i Fishing Regulations, available at Division of Aquatic Resources offices and most fishing supply stores.

Regulated Freshwater Species

Freshwater Game Fishing License required for introduced game species. Unlawful to sell introduced game species. See also special provisions for individual areas.

Species Season Minimum Size Bag Limit Special Provisions
Largemouth Bass Open 9 inches Catch and release only in Wahiawā PFA Special provisions for Wailua Res. PFA
Smallmouth Bass Open 9 inches Catch and release only in Wahiawā PFA Special provisions for Wailua Res. PFA
Channel Catfish Open None 3
Rainbow Trout Restricted (Kōke‘e, Kauai only) None (May differ for Kōke‘e, Kaua‘i, as announced) 10 (May differ for Kōke‘e, Kaua‘i, as announced)
Tucunare Open 12 inches Catch and release only in Wahiawā PFA Special provisions for Wailua Res. PFA
Oscar Open 10 inches Special provisions for Wahiawā PFA
Bluegill Sunfish Open None (Special provisions for Wailua Res. PFA) None (Special provisions for Wailua Res. PFA)
Native Species
'O'opu & Hinana Open Restrictions: Use of traps, weirs and nets (except thrownets) prohibited. Possession of nets (except thrownets) near waters where 'o'opu or hinana may be taken prohibited. Sale of 'o'opu or hinana prohibited.
Hihiwai, Hapawai, & 'Opae Kala'ole Open Restrictions: Unlawful to sell or offer for sale

Sign Up for Huntlink!

Huntlink is a free program that will allow us to send you state regulations to your email for the states you hunt in. The benefits of this are:

1. PDF Format - Downloadable

2. Able to be read with or without reception

3. Delivered right to your email with no ads

And much more!


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.