Bottomfish Fishing

Bottomfish Fishing

Hawaii’s bottomfish fisheries catch a number of deepwater snappers and groupers. Each species is caught by skilled fishermen who target their fishing efforts for maximum efficiency. The targeting results in a very clean fishery with minimal bycatch.

Although bottomfish species utilize all of the available habitats within their depth ranges, they are typically fished in areas that concentrate them for feeding opportunities. Fishermen use information on seasonal availability, known depth ranges and relevant topography to target particular species. Uku (grey snapper) are seasonally abundant during the summer months at shallow depths (day or night fishery, surface to 50 fathoms) and can be caught by the usual bottomfishing methods as well as surface trolling. Onaga (day fishery, 100-200 fathoms) and opakapaka (day or night fishery, 50-100 fathoms) are seasonally abundant during the winter months and are caught with handlines when they concentrate along the deep slopes, pinnacles or other high relief areas.

The typical local bottomfish vessels are small, ranging in the 20- to 30-foot lengths. Their size makes fishing opportunities very weather dependent. In Hawaii the strong trade winds that blow much of the time reduce the available fishing opportunities for this local small vessel fleet. The basic handline gear has remained essentially unchanged from the design used by early Native Hawaiians.The gear consists of a mainline with a 3- to 5-pound weight attached to the end with 2 to 8 branch lines with circle hooks attached above the weight at 6- to 10-foot intervals. A chum bag containing chopped fish or squid is usually attached above the highest of these hooks to attract the fish. The gear is retrieved using a mechanical line hauler after one or more fish are hooked. Each fish is treated with loving care as the value of the fish is contained not only in its freshness but also in its unblemished appearance.

  • Bottomfish Fishing Boats and Gear ((PDF)
  • Methods for Releasing Deepwater Bottomfish (PDF)

The Federal Bottomfish Management Units Species (pdf)