What a visitor says to do with the Fish You Catch on a Maui Fishing Charter

What a visitor says to do with the Fish You Catch on a Maui Fishing Charter

Thanks to our Guest Author and Visitor Larry Chesney for sharing his fishing tale and allowing us to use it here on our blog. The article first appeared in ‘Sporting Classics’ magazine.

Fishing on Maui by Larry Chesney

The author's wife catches a fish on Maui. Later we use it to prepare an inclusive dinner in Kaanapali.In Maui, it’s not how many fish you catch, it’s how much tarragon is in the béarnaise sauce.

With its gorgeous beaches, lush mountain slopes, slumbering volcanoes, swaying palm trees, gyrating hula dancers, and colorful cocktails with little umbrellas, Hawaii lives up to its reputation as one of the world’s top vacation spots.

Wanting to add the 49th state to our bucket list, my wife, Kathy, and I boarded American Airlines in Charlotte this spring and took off for Phoenix. There we’d connect with another flight to Maui.

Everyone we talked to who’d previously visited Hawaii warned us that getting there and back was the only real downer. They spoke the truth.

Once we arrived at the Maui Kahului Airport and tracked down our rental car, we finally began to decompress. After a pleasant drive to the Maui Sheraton, we were ready to do the tourist thing.

maui-fishing-shore-JPG.jpgAlong with all the sunning, swimming, sightseeing, tropical dining, and sipping exotic-looking drinks, we’d also included a six-hour fishing charter. I arranged it a few weeks before the trip, allowing time to do some fact-finding. After all, I knew almost nothing about fishing in Hawaii.

When I asked Lili at FishMaui, the booking company, what was biting, she couldn’t give me a solid answer. “Mahi, ono, ahi, sailfish,” she said. “They’re out there, but what’s hitting on May 25 is anybody’s guess.

Like most saltwater fishing destinations, what’s biting can change with the tides. While billfish were just showing up—our boat had hauled in a 400-pound marlin the day before our trip—schools of ahi (yellowfin tuna) and ono (wahoo) were said to be fairly plentiful in the waters around the islands.

At 5 a.m. on our second morning there, we boarded the Hinetea at the Lahiana wharf, just a short drive from our hotel. We were greeted in the predawn darkness by Greg France, the skipper. He was in good spirits despite the fact that his first (and only) mate was AWOL. A few more folks from San Diego showed up, and soon we were all aboard and shoving off.

Greg let out six lines, including two outriggers, in the water before we cleared the harbor. The big Penn Internationals were stacked with hundreds of yards of heavy string, each pulling a fat, brightly skirted plug. The only exception was a six-inch purple lure that resembled a bass jig on steroids. Etched into its paint were toothmarks galore.


“It doesn’t look like much,” Greg smiled before launching it, “but the thing catches fish.” We would soon learn that to be a fact.

Despite the no-show mate and some minor engine problems Greg had to deal with while trolling, he kept us on his planned course. It helped that one of the fishermen was willing and able to steer the 41-foot Hatteras across the unusually calm waters between Maui, Kahoolawe, and Lanai.

Back on the East Coast, blue-water trolling is typically done out of sight of land. Or maybe there’s a distant shoreline on the western horizon. But here, surrounded by mountainous islands, the views were tremendous. Watching the sun come up behind Maui and cast its rich morning light on the islands was a photographer’s dream. Add to that the purple and pink clouds that clung to the mountain peaks and catching fish really didn’t seem all that important.

Just kidding. I was all about ripping some Hawaiian fish lips, and despite the scenery, my eye rarely left the rod tips and outriggers.

It took a couple of hours to get a hit. But when you consider we began fishing within ten minutes of the dock, that’s not so bad. Back in the Carolinas, you could have a three-hour ride to reach a wreck or the Gulf Stream before you even wet a line.

At last the rumble of the twin diesels was broken by the whine of line ripping off a reel. Another angler, Brian, was closest to the fighting chair, and Greg shouted for him to grab the rod, sit down, and start reeling.Go out on a Maui charter fishing excursion off - You catch it, we cook it in Kaanapali!

“Don’t give him any slack,” he shouted. A few minutes later a nearly four-footlong, 26-pound ono (wahoo) was gaffed and sent flopping on the deck. And guess what was dangling from its toothy mouth? Yep, the unnamed purple thing, now sporting a new set of teethmarks.

The action was slow, but we were entertained by the beautiful weather, splendid scenery, good conversation, angler optimism, and the occasional fish. After another hour Kathy had a chance to grab a bent rod and settle into the fighting chair. It was a good tussle between the diminutive lady and a decent-sized tuna. Greg gaffed and hoisted it aboard. From its lip hung the ugly purple plug.

Around 11 a.m. we began trolling back toward the docks at Maui. Greg filleted the fish, and with the assurance that a number of restaurants would gladly prepare it for us, we took a hefty quantity of both ahi and ono.

Later, after getting back to the hotel and putting the fillets on ice, we cleaned up and headed to CJ’s Deli & Diner. We’d dined there the night before, having heard about their diverse menu and great prices. (Hawaii is expensive—really expensive). 


When we asked Chef Jason if he could cook up our fillets for dinner, he smiled. “Sure, but not tonight. Leave them with me and come back tomorrow. I want to do some marinating and plan the dishes.”

Next evening we arrived at CJ’s and were led to a cozy corner table with cloth and candles. Definitely out of the ordinary considering CJ’s is a simple deli that doesn’t even sell alcohol. But you can bring your own wine, which we did.

After a fresh salad for starters came a platter of superb ono tacos with homemade guacamole. Next, we were served ono fish and chips, which were awesome.

Fresh Ahi Sashimi could be included in your You Catch It, We Cook it Dinner on Maui.

We took a little wine break before the ahi sashimi arrived. 

This is absolutely the best way to serve just-caught tuna. For our final course, we enjoyed ahi cooked in a light crab macadamia crust with béarnaise sauce and pineapple fried rice.

We paid some hefty dinner bills at other spots around the island, but none compared to this five-course dinner, which ran about 50 bucks. Eating your own freshly caught fish no doubt adds to the appeal.

In conclusion, be sure to eat at CJ’s at least once when you’re in Maui. You don’t have to provide the fish, but you do need to bring your own wine. You can buy a bottle at the Safeway down the street. To line up some fishing, contact Lili at fishmaui.com.

Aloha! A Maui fishing story by Larry Chesney

Learn more about our Maui all inclusive You Catch It, We Cook It! Dinner in Kaanapali.


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CJ’s Kaanapali Diner Review

My daughter and I visited Maui a couple of weeks ago and came to your restaurant 3 times. I just wanted to thank you for your willingness to meet our gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free requirements. We loved being able to eat out safely and wish we had a CJ’s at home! I just wrote you a stellar review on Trip Advisor. Hope you have a wonderful rest of the summer!

Kelley MacCabe
CJ’s Maui Restaurant Review

Wonderful for a Sunday Brunch since you can order breakfast until 11:00am! Had a ‘custom’ 3 ingredient omelette (I chose mushrooms, feta and spinach) with nicely crunchy on the outside and soft inside home potatoes, yummy. Hubby had the pancakes with fresh fruit! These are light fluffy slightly sweet batter pancakes, not those heavy bland ones (OK I admit it, I had to have a few bites of his breakfast…) Service was fast and friendly :0). The menu is EXTENSIVE, we live here and love it!

Kathy, Lahaina, Maui
CJ’s Deli and Diner Maui Restaurant Review

Fact: CJ’s Maui onion soup will melt your face off it’s so good. Best I’ve ever had. It gets 20 stars.
Alas, it’s not on the menu every day… But when my fiancee and I went this past summer and were lucky to meet Chef CJ in person and mentioned that we had been thinking about the onion soup since the last time we visited two years earlier, he was kind enough to put it on the next day’s menu. We went back the following day and ordered it, and it was amazing, just as we had remembered. Another fact: the onion soup at CJ’s is better than the onion soup at Mama’s Fish House (and at like 1/4th of the price). Really. It’s that good. Part of me wants to reverse engineer CJ’s onion soup recipe, quit my job, and make millions selling onion soup to the mainland masses! (or: CJ, wanna make a deal?)
I think that the loco moco gravy is made from the same goodness. So that’s great too. The potato salad is tasty as well.
The to-go lunch plate is respectable.

Jonny S, San Diego, CA
Maui Chef CJ Prepares Mushroom Soup for Kaanapali Restaurant Guest

On a previous visit to Maui, I had the most delicious mushroom soup at CJ’s Deli and Diner in Kaanapali. When I arrived in Maui this week, I emailed the restaurant and asked what day they might have the soup. The owner and chef, Christian Jorgensen (CJ), promptly replied even though he was on vacation in Vegas. He gave me a number to call to check on the soup of the day. Then when he returned to Maui on Friday, he emailed me to let me know he would have the soup for me on Saturday. When I got there, he was so friendly and the soup was even more scrumptious than I had remembered. I really appreciated how valued he made me feel as a customer.

Linda D.
CJs Maui Restaurant Customer

Good Morning, My wife and I spent last week in Maui. Your early bird special was the best. After we found you, we ate breakfast there every morning. You had two regular coffees that we just loved.

James T Wilson Jr
Maui Restaurant Customer

The best burger I ever had! Great Service! Fantastic Food!! Simply Awesome.

Pat Janostin, Champlin MN
Kaanapali Restaurant Customer Comment

Thanks for all the Good Food. Best we have ad since we hit the island 5 days ago!

Jeff and Myra V., Ontario, Ohio

CJ’s Maui Restaurant Customer Comments on CJ’s Private Luau in her Blog

Aloha, Just wanted to let you know that this post was up last Friday and it will be included (linked) with all of our Hawaii properties. Thank you both for excellent service. You made our trip to Maui very memorable! Feel free to comment on the post. It’s always good to have additional information and your input.


Nancy Solomon, Travel Writer
CJ’s Maui Restaurant Customer Comment

Aloha, We were in to see you many times during our stay last month in Ka’anapali, couple of things for you:
Need to order some more of your CJ’s roasted Kona Coffee. I see it’s not yet on your website, only the Maui Coffee Co. stuff. We ran out last weekend and are having withdrawls, please help!! Need 2 bags urgently!!
Secondly, your claim about having the best corned beef hash on the island. I think you’ve understated this because it’s the best I’ve had any where in the world! And that covers a lot of ground as I’ve been to every continent multiple times. Just the best anywhere, period!! Don’t suppose you would have that for delivery to Indiana would you? Maybe by the pound(s)?
Great people and even better food, Mahalo CJ’s. Seriously though, please let me know about that coffee. How do we get some ordered and shipped to Indiana?

Bill Clark, Valparaiso, In.
CJ’s Maui Restaurant Customer Comment

​CJ’s Deli & Diner Rocks! Been here several times while visiting Maui – each time we tried different meals and each time we LOVED the food, service and atmosphere. Only suggestion would be to provide regular dinner napkins along with this paper type – because we’re messy!

Aloha and Mahalo from Detroit