Hawaii is renowned for excellent sea fishing, with Hawaii charter fishing available, but did you know there’s freshwater fishing to be had as well? Catch and release fishing at Oahu’s Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is great fun for families. On Saturdays and Sundays, fishing is permitted from 10am to 2pm in the garden.

Located in Kaneohe on Oahu’s windward side, the 400 acre botanical garden boast plants native to the Philippines, Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Polynesia, and Central and South America. Open daily from 9am to 4pm except Christmas and New Year’s, admission is free and guided tours run Saturdays at 10am and Sundays at 1pm (group tours available with reservations). Camping is also allowed with a permit.

The botanical garden’s 32 acre lake contains several species of fish, including cichlids, tilapia, smallmouth bass, and grass carp. To fish, you can either bring your own pole (no barbed hooks!) or borrow one. You do need bait: bread works well, though we saw others using salmon eggs, shrimp, and peas. No live bait is permitted. You’ll also want to bring drinking water and a snack, or pack a picnic lunch. Insect repellent and sunscreen are also recommended. Swimming and boating in the lake are not allowed due to water impurities.

Once at the botanical garden, finding the lake is easy. Stop off at the visitor’s center to check out a pole, and follow the signs to the lake. You’ll pass some fascinating plants along the way, cross a stream, and walk to the far bank of the lake to fish.

If, like us, you’re new to fishing, park staff is there to assist. Expert fisherman Knut was on hand to demonstrate proper bread baiting and casting technique. With his help, our 6 year old caught a ichlid on his very first cast! The weather was beautiful the day of our visit, and the garden had a number of families fishing but we didn’t feel crowded at the fishing area. Park staff was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. And the fishing was fantastic- all in all, a wonderful day for the whole family.

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