Where to find them
and how to catch them ...
Mahi Mahi , Dorado
using a haywire twist and pin rig. The
ballyhoo may be trolled naked or with a skirt or skirted
lure over its head. Trolling speed is a matter of how the
baits look in the water. I have found that trolling 6 to 8
knots is best. In heavier seas travel down seas so the baits
stay in the water better.
The Dolphin, also known as Mahi Mahi or
Dorado, is one of the most exciting offshore gamefish to
catch and see in the open ocean. This beautifully colored
fish can be found in all tropical and warm temperate
seas of the world. When hooked these fish "light
up" with almost neon colors and put up an exciting,
high jumping, tail walking fight.
Dolphin are prolific breeders, rapid growing
and short lived which make them an excellent choice as a
gamefish because they can sustain recreational catch efforts
without fear of overfishing.
A dolphin can grow to a weight of about 80
pounds and live only about five years. The dolphin’s
coloring can range from a dark blue along its back and
changes laterally through a green – gold – yellow color
spectrum as look from their back to their belly. Mature
males or bulls are easily distinguished by their high flat
forehead and are usually larger than the females or cows.
Smaller fish travel in schools (schoolies) which can range
from a few fish to several dozen. Larger bulls and cows
travel alone or in pairs.
These fish are commonly found near floating
objects and Sargassum weed lines and patches. They feed on
the sea life which seek shelter near and in the floating
structures, such as flying fish, squid and sea horses.
Dolphin like warm water, generally greater than 68oF,
78o – 85oF is preferred.
Trolling is one of the most productive and
my favorite method of catching dolphin.
My tackle choice is a 20# - 30# lever drag
reel, a matched 5-1/2’ – 6’ stand-up rod and 20# –
30# mono line.
I like to troll natural baits such as
ballyhoo rigged on #7 or #8 coffee colored stainless steel
wire. One end of the wire will have a haywire twist to
attach to the fishing line via snap swivel and the other end
will have 7/0 or 8/0 hook attached
They can also be readily caught on
artificial lures, feathers, spoons, etc.
Once a school dolphin is hooked and brought
to the boat, leave it in the water. The rest of the school
will usually follow and stay nearby. Chum with cut bait or
glass minnows will bring them in close and put them in a
frenzy, For a wild and exciting experience start casting
your spinning rods/fly rods with yellow or white bucktail
jigs/flys . Usually they will hit so fast you just have time
to set the hook as it hits the water. Wow!!
Locating dolphin can be a challenge or very
easy. They can be found in as little as 100 feet of water
but deeper water of 400 feet or more is usually better. They
like warm temperate water so the Gulf Stream is a good place
to start. They don’t move to far from their food source so
keep your eyes open for floating weeds, other floating
objects, temperature rips and sub surface structure which
may attract and provide shelter to flying fish and other
sources of food. Keep a look out for sea birds such as the
Frigate, Man-0-War, that feed on the small baitfish that are
driven to the surface by feeding dolphin and other gamefish.
They are sometimes a dead giveaway as to the dolphins and
other sportfish location. At other times they may be taking
you on a wild goose chase.
The south east coast of Florida and the Keys
are some of the best Dolphin fishing waters available.
If you are unfamiliar with the waters, hire
a Guide/Charter Captain they can put you on the fish and you
may learn something new or special to the area you will be
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