Fishing Season Calendar
The following data came from a couple of local fishing books and reports from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council but, one thing you should know is that fish don't know how to read calendars. Like party guests, they don't always show up when they should and sometimes they still hang around when they're supposed to leave. The best fishermen in Kona will alter their target species with what will give you the best chance of a successful fishing day. I have the best catch rate of any charter captain in Kona every year since 1997 by doing it this way! If I'm already booked up, I refer captains/boats that have a higher than average catch rate.
Further explanation: Kona is the Pacific blue marlin capital of the world. At times (not determined by the calendar) marlin are the most common daily catch here. The "daily average" of a good charter boat that goes trolling all day (most boats only troll) will "average" just under 1 marlin in every 4 days of fishing. The way this "daily average" works is misleading. The average is based on the number of marlin caught in a year divided by the number of days fished in a year. Multiple marlin caught in a single day brings that "daily average" up but in reality, is it a "daily" average? When the Kona marlin bite is "on", you might catch more than one marlin in a day. The bite is considered "on" when 50% of the boats going out are catching marlin. When the marlin bite is "off", you might not see a marlin for several weeks. A good blue marlin run can happen for a short period of time in any month of the year. The Striped marlin are here in the winter (not always) and are a rare catch in the summer months but not unheard of. Black marlin are rare with less than a dozen caught a year here. Sailfish are rare too but do show up from time to time. Spearfish show up in big numbers here and are one of the best eating fish there is. In general, if you plan on trolling for billfish all day, unless the bite is "on", also plan on not catching any. The statistics are not in your favor. Some anglers have tried for years and haven't caught a billfish yet. It is a gamble though so first time winners happen all the time.
Mahi mahi (dolphin fish) can be caught year round as can ono (wahoo). Use the chart above for peak season(s) but again, the runs may not happen according to the calendar. Ono are usually targeted by trolling near shore so if you're targeting ono, that's typically the only thing that you might catch. All of the other fish are targeted further offshore. In the summer months we normally get "blind strike" yellowfin tuna bites. A 100+ yellowfin can hop on your line any time you're trolling but in the other seasons, blind strikes are rare. Yellowfin tuna commonly travel with the spotted dolphins (called a porpoise school) so any time of year you run into a porpoise school, there's a chance of catching 100+ lb. yellowfin tuna. There are only a few boats in Kona that aggressively search out and target the schools. Smaller yellowfin (under 15 lbs.) and small bigeye tuna are common around the fish aggregation buoys (FAD's) in the winter months. Sometimes they come in early and sometimes they stay into the summer months. The "big" bigeye tuna are an uncommon catch here. Skipjack tuna are the most common fish we have. At under 10 lbs., they're considered bait fish here. Once they reach over 10 lbs. they are called "otado" or "otaru". When properly bled and iced, they're a good eating fish. Pacific skipjack is the most commonly consumed tuna is the U.S. in the form of "Chunk Light" canned tuna.
Amberjack, almaco jack (not related to skipjack), giant trevally (known simply as GT) and a variety of sharks are the most common fish caught near and on the bottom year round. All of these are hard fighting sport fish. Snapper and grouper are more of a bycatch while going for the bigger game bottom fish as are some other types of trevally and the occasional "what's that" ?
In some areas of the world, tides and moon phases are the most important factor when choosing your fishing day(s). Here in Kona, the current is king! There's no way to predict it. When it runs steady (North or South), the bite is usually good unless it's running too fast. When it switches, the bite drops off. Sometimes we get a split current and it's going South, South of the harbor and North, North of the harbor. Or that split can happen anywhere along the coast line. We only get an average of a 2' tide change here so it's not much of a factor. New moons and full moons can make the bite better but the current often cancels or enhances this effect.
I hope this information is useful to you. You can always check out my fish Photos Page to see what I've been catching lately and I do the Kona Hawaii fishing report monthly near the end of each month. At the bottom of my fishing report page you will also find over a decade of archived reports so if you really want to zero in on what the fishing might look like during the month that you're here, have at it!