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Fishing for Dolphin  ( Mahi Mahi )

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Check out our Seafood Recipes for great ways to cook Dolphin!

Where to find them and how to catch them ...

(Coryphaena Hippurus)
Mahi Mahi , Dorado 

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.

Fishing Basics

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 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.

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 fishing.

Good Luck!


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