The Difference Between Bottom Fishing and Sports Fishing

The Difference Between Bottom Fishing and Sports Fishing

What is the difference between bottom fishing and sports fishing? This is one of the questions we get often at Kona Fishing Charters. These are two very distinct fishing experiences, but many people do not know the difference between the two fishing types. In today’s blog post, we will explain the differences and the similarities between bottom fishing and sport fishing. We offer a great fishing experience on the Kona Fishing Charters, where you can rent us out and book an offshore fishing trip!

Sports Fishing

Although there is some overlap between the type of fish caught in the two different types of fishing experiences, sport and bottom fishing are pretty different from one another. Sport fishing (also known as big game fishing) involves dragging artificial lures on the surface behind the boat out in deep water. This attracts fish like the Ono, Tuna, and Marlin (all fish we have covered in previous blog posts). The stakes are higher than they are when you’re bottom fishing. Not only that but in general the fish are bigger in sport fishing.


Sport fishing methods, however, vary according to where you’re fishing, the species you’re targeting, and the resources available. It could be fly fishing, deep sea fishing, or another type. Sport fishing is done with a hook, line, rod, and reel rather than with a net or another fishing aid. Before fishing regulations occurred, sports fishers, even if they didn’t eat their catch, almost always killed their catch anyways to weigh them or keep them as trophies. However, now most sports fisherman practice catch and release (At Kona Fishing Charters, we encourage practicing catch and release for the Blue Marlin) in order to avoid interfering with fisheries or ecological habitats. It depends on the fish and the area, however, and if you join us on the Kona Fishing Charters, you can bring all your fish to dock if you choose to do so.

Bottom Fishing

The objective for rigs that are used in bottom fishing is to take your bait to the bottom, where the water hits the sand, and lure in the fish. The bait, of course, has to be appetizing to the fish, which is why live bait is often used more often than artificial lures.

Bottom fishing mostly uses live bait like squid also uses artificial lures but. Fishing is done when the boat is stopped (anchored or drifting over “spots” where fish are known to lurk in shallow water – 100 – 300 feet deep). Bottom fishing doesn’t have to be done only from boats as many anglers enjoy this type of fishing from land. Most of the fish caught are small, much smaller than the sports fishing but it’s still a fun challenge because of how light the tackle is. Bottom fishing doesn’t have to occur far from shore. The odds of catching fish are a lot greater than they are with sports fishing. Some types of fish that are caught with bottom fishing are reef fish like the gray snapper, moi’lua, barrucada, and the ta’ape.

Most of the fish are under 5lbs. when you go bottom fishing but the fish should still be delicious if you decide to cook it for dinner!

A common rig for bottom fishing is a weight tied to the end of the line and a hook that’s about an inch up line from the weight. This method can be used with handlines and rod fishing and the weight can be used to case or throw the line. The most common rig is called a “fish finder rig” while another, more rarely used rig is called a “break-away rig”. The last rig that’s often used in bottom fishing is called a “party boat rig”. This last one is often used on party boats which is why it is named that. Also, there are specialized fishing rods that are commonly used for bottom fishing called donkas.

In the end, you’ll catch more fish if you go bottom fishing but you won’t catch fish that are very big especially in comparison to the fish you’ll catch while sport fishing. It won’t be as much of a challenge as sport fishing is, especially to experienced anglers.
You can learn more about both fishing experiences if you book a deep sea fishing trip with us at Kona Fishing Charters. We can tell you about the similarities and differences between sport fishing and bottom fishing while you catch your own fish in the Hawaiian waters. Call us at (808) 960-1424 to book your fishing trip!