Prices vary from boat to boat, and are more often 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 $890-$1,300 for an 8 hr. trip. Prices for share boat trips range from $179-$220 per person. Some share boats allow non-fishing passengers at 1/2 the fishing rate. We've listed current prices where available, however, please reconfirm pricing when you make your reservation.
Prices do not include gratuities, state excise tax (4.166%) or harbor fees (3%).
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. There are no boats here that do strictly shares, like the 'head' boats out of CA or FL.
Most of the boats, listed in this site, are licensed to carry six passengers. Some of them do not do "shares".
Say you and your wife wanted to go out for a day, but didn't want to pay $1,000. You book 2 seats on a SHARE boat basis at, say, $200 ea. The vessel will try to put 4 other people on board with you.
Share boat charters don't target anything differently. The boats usually run 6 rods and if a fish bites your rod, you get to fight it.
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!
All the boats that do shares require a minimum of 3-4 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 3-4, depending on their minimum, 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 number of passengers.
All of the fishing boats 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.
None of the 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 wll 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
A PRIVATE charter means that only your party will be on board, plus, of course, the captain and crew! Just you and your wife/friends 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.
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 this in advance.
We recommend that you charter for a minimum of 6 hrs. On most boats, the cost difference between a 6 hr. trip and an 8 hr trip, is small.
The boats depart around 5:30 - 6:30 a.m. Some leave as early as 3:00 am. If you are booking a private charter, you may request a departure time that fits your schedule better. Few captains will change departure times for share boats.
Afternoon charters depart around 12:30.
It is highly unlikely that you will be able to just show up at the harbor without a reservation and find a 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. Thanks to the internet, the top boats will usually book out in advance during these times, sometimes as much as 4-6 weeks.
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. Therefore, not only are many of the better boats unavailable during these times, 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. Obvously, 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.
How far in advance depends on your vacation schedule, choice of vessel, and that vessel's availability. If you are limited to say 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 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. Remember, this is a general FAQ! Some boats require 72 hr. notice. Be sure to ask what their cancellation policy is before you make a reservation.
Complete our fishing inquiry form if you want me to check on availability for you.
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 a shorter, bottom fishing trip to those of you desiring to take young ones fishing. They will almost certainly catch some fish, albeit smaller species.
You should really think twice about bringing young kids (say, under 12) on a sport fishing charter. There is very little for children to do on a big game boat. The equipment is much too heavy for them, and their patience levels are much too low. Again, ask about the vessels' policy on children before booking. Email me if you need more information on this.
You must be kidding!! If we could predict the weather, we could make a lot more money than we make sport fishing! Seriously though, 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 request to return to port. If anyone in your party is subject to motion sickness, we recommend they take appropriate medications or go shopping instead!
Anything that bites!! Honestly, 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).
Fishing is good year round in Hawaii. Some months tend to be more productive than others, especially for certain species. To view a chart listing frequently caught game fish and their most abundant months in Hawaiian waters, click here.
Mainly, the charter boats 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 on Maui.
Most boats do carry "natural" bait and will also live-bait in the appropriate situations.
READ THIS PAGE about bottom fishing!
READ THIS PAGE about shore fishing!
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.
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.
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. To get some great ideas on how to cook your catch, pick up a copy of FISHWIFE from our tackle shop. I've recommended this book to people for years....and yes, I cook!
The captain can arrange to have your fish mounted, or a "Gyotaku" (Fish print) made.
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.
We have no canning facilities on Maui and the airlines have very strict guidelines for shipping fresh/frozen fish. A local fish wholesaler can arrange this for you, however, the surcharge is about $1.00 per pound, excluding shipping. State law prohibits you from selling your sport catch.
No fishing license is required (yet!).
The boat provides all equipment, bait, ice, and a guest cooler/refrigerator. You need to bring your own food and beverages. 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!
It's a good idea to obtain all your food and beverages the night before as there are only a few stores open in the early a.m. (Foodland Supermarket is one). If you're staying at a hotel or resort, they can often provide a picnic lunch for you.
When you board the boat, 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 voucher/boarding pass.
If you wish to bring your own tackle, please advise the captain when making 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%.
Email me! If your question pertains to a particular boat, be sure to state the name of that boat.
Save a tree, please don't request a brochure.
STILL CONFUSED ABOUT MAUI FISHING OPTIONS?
Call Capt. Mike at 808-344-3520