Good fishing for pelagic species is best done in the warmer water, so think about within 1,000 nm of Hawaii. Those of you used to fishing in lakes or inshore waters need to ramp up your sights and gear; Tuna (Ahi; Blue or Yellow fin, image at bottom), Wahoo (Ono, image right center), and Dolphin (Mahi Mahi image immediate left) are the most common catch, along with an occasional Marlin. These fish will run from 20 to 200+ pounds so you won’t be using a small reel and net for your catch; think gaff and 90 lb. test line.
We use a hand line that is about 120’ long with a section of surgical tubing to take up the shock of a strike, 200lb. test monofilament and big lures. With a hand line, once you have a strike you just wait until the fish gets tired of fighting the boat and surfaces. With a rod and reel, you need to be nearby or the fish will “spool” your reel and leave you only the sound to remember. Once you get your strike stopped, the real work begins; these are not salmon and will give you a real fight.
At the boat the rod should be moved forward so that the gaff person can guide the fish alongside and gaff from below with an upward stroke. By now you should have a good idea of what you have and need to make a decision. Tuna will just be excited to see you and are easy to control so up they come. Mahi Mahi, will be distinctively bright yellow, and should come aboard and be covered immediately with something opaque like a garbage bag or towel.
Do not strike them before they are covered, you will just make them mad and you will end up apologizing after they tear your boat apart; once covered you can proceed. Ono are long, skinny, silver, and have the sharpest teeth you will find; if you bring them onboard alive they will come after your feet and ankles. Once you have this one on the gaff, reach over the side and hit it right between the eyes; game over. Make sure you use the right treatment for the fish you have.
All of the above are great to eat, and fresh ahi is great sashimi (you did pack the soy and wasabi didn’t you?). You can get fishing gear for blue water fishing from Pacific Ocean Producers in Honolulu http://www.pop-hawaii.com/. I recommend 6-7” lures (you’ll think they are too big) and a single #11 hook (also looks too big); double hooks provide the opportunity to get hooked together with your catch, a memorable experience.
Tell the folks at POP what you will be doing and what kind of fish you want and they will put together the right lures.