Mahi-mahi, dorado, dolphinfish, or dolphin. Different names for the same game fish that intrigues anglers across the world. And like the variation in nomenclature suggests there are different regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics.
Where Can You Find Dolphinfish
Do you want to take a trip to fish off the coast of Oman in the Arabian sea? You can find dolphin there. Or would you prefer the island energy of Tahiti? Don’t worry, you can fish for dolphin. You can fish the west coast of the Americas (North or South) and Costa Rica. The Gulf of Mexico is a hot spot if you prefer the Pacific Ocean. And if you prefer the Atlantic, the Florida Keys or West Africa are options for you. As you might guess, there are many regional mahi-mahi strategies tactics, even within a defined sub-area like the Florida Coast. We’ll be picking out a few locations and going further in-depth(finder) on the best ways to land the biggest dolphinfish.
Fishing Mahi-mahi in the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a classic location for catching Dorado. And even in Florida tactics can vary. But after casting around a bit, there are plenty of regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics to be found… floating around.
Islamorada: The Sportfishing Capital of the World (According to Residents)
In this Miami Herald article written by Steve Waters, the article catches Florida anglers bragging about the fishing in Islamorada, a tiny town on the very southernmost tip of the Florida Keys.
Bud N’ Mary’s Marina is a historic home of sportfishing in the United States. So if you decide to choose to take a fishing vacation there, you know you’ll be in good hands, as many professional anglers hone their regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics.
Emphasized in the article from the Herald is that live pilchard (the local name for sardines) are something that the dolphinfish can’t resist. May and June are traditionally the hottest mahi-mahi season. But when you’re in a prime location like the Florida Keys, you can catch dolphin year-round. Even casting with just a rod and reel off the back of the boat. Location, location, location!
Strategy: Luxury Dolphinfishing
At the Bom-Bom island resort on Principe Island, 100 miles off the shore of West Africa, you can still find IGFA-certified fishing. The island, with its UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status, serves as a luxury location where the remote location means that the fish populations have far fewer ecological problems. This strategy of choosing a luxury resort might not be for everyone, but as far as regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics go, you can be sure that you’ll have a dolphin fishing experience of a lifetime.
If you’re up for it, chartering a boat with the local captain will give you the highest chance of catching fish. From Punta Cana to Aruba to Indonesia, there are plenty of fishing charters that will take your hard-earned cash in return for their expertise on the regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics. However you too need to remember your strategies and tactics too: you may not want to pay for fishing charters upfront. It’s notoriously hard to get refunded your money for a fishing trip, and chances are, unless the harbor is closed, you’ll be going fishing, 6-10’ swells or not. Anytime you step on a boat and head out into the ocean, you’re taking a risk. Safety first!
Dolphinfishing in the United States
There are plenty of fishing locations located in the US where you can learn which regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics will work best.
Mahi-mahi in New Jersey
Close to the Northeast Atlantic coast? New Jersey is an out of the way location that’s worth your consideration. Because lobster pots abound, fishing lobster pot lines are a legit strategy for dolphinfishing. They provide the marine growth that mahi-mahi prefer for shelter and other marine life gather around.
Tactically, you might want to throw some chum to get the dolphin excited about eating. Since dolphin are often found in schools, once one dolphin hits a strike, all of the other fish in the group become primed to eat. At that point, rock and roll: artificial bait on light tackle will get you plenty of bites.
Dolphinfish Bigger in Texas?
Heavy-weight trolling tactics far off-shore is a hallmark of fishing in Texas. Whether it’s blue marlin or more common dolphinfish fishing in Texas is big deal. Availing yourself of all the geographical data available and fishing the largest floats of sargassum (one of dorado’s favorite vegetation for shelter) is the strategic choice. Captain Scott Hickman’s tactic is to use a plug lure rigged with some of the freshest ballyhoo, and keep ripping and running the most attractive locations you can find with satellite data.
Dorado on the Golden Coast of California
It only makes sense that dorado fishing is popular in California, the land of the mythical El Dolorado. Just like in the Atlantic, fishing around sea vegetation is one of the most common strategies.
Instead of the sargassum more commonly seen in the fishing locations around the North Atlantic Gyre, in California kelp is the favorite home for dolphin fish and all the other marine-life looking for some shade. Jeff Spira’s website is home to a ton of information about the locations of kelp beds in southern California. Sticking close to vegetation is maybe the cardinal rule of fishing for mahi-mahi, so this kind of resource is valuable.
Most anglers will get started in the early AM to hit the kelp beds, a traditional fishing tactic. But since mahi-mahi love warm water and need it to power their metabolism, late afternoon is often a good time to find aggressive, hungry fish.
Is High Tech Dorado Fishing Legal in Your Region?
Fishing is forever indebted to technology. When it comes to eating humans are quite inventive, and with opposable thumbs we have a distinct advantage over fish and have devoted quite a bit of time and energy into improving fishing technology. Although it may sound like science fiction, drone fishing is actually a thing that you might want to include when considering your regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics!
Science Fiction or Science Fishing?
You can check-out the comprehensive guide to dronefishing here. For a mere cost of $500-1200 for a worthy drone plus a dronefishing device that will set you back $200-300, you too can explore this novel strategy…
It might seem strange, but when you’re spending that on a rod and reel, let alone a charter, maybe it’s worth considering this novel approach among the many more conventional regional mahi-mahi strategies and tactics. In some places where you need motor out miles to get to the best fishing locations, investing in a drone might make a lot of sense.
Check Your Local Drone Laws!
Is it fair? That’s a question you’ll have to ask yourself. Fishfinders, satellite data, lures with LED lights are all technology that have gradually gained acceptance in sportfishing communities, but drone laws will vary by region.
While you might be able to catch an IGFA-certified record mahi-mahi, mainstream sporting anglers probably won’t be rushing to incorporate this into their repertoire. Only time will tell whether dronefishing will be normalized by the sportfishing community.
Summing up Regional Mahi-Mahi Strategies and Tactics
Mahi-mahi are found so far afield and in so many different places. That is part of the fish’s charms. Only through your own experience will you really get to find out whether the dorado in the kelp beds of California will respond to strategies honed on by the sporting anglers of the Florida Keys, but at least you know this: whenever you’re by a large body of salty water, there’s a good chance you can get some mahi-mahi fishing in.