Among game fishers, mahi mahi, also known as dolphin fish and dorado, are a well known prize that can be tricky to catch, especially for an enthusiastic beginner who can’t wait to dive into the sport fishing game.
However, if you know what you’re doing (and what you shouldn’t be doing), then it’s not as hard as you might think after all.
In this article, we’ll give you some information about the mahi mahi and then some information about what you can do to increase your chances of catching one.
What Are Mahi Mahi
In case you just clicked on this article out of curiosity, let us get you up to speed on what this fish is all about.
They’re found in both tropical and subtropical oceans all over the world and in the US, mahi mahi fishing is popular in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in the Gulf of California.
The fish themselves are known for their bright, shining colors and usually weigh between 15 and 30 lbs.
They also taste great, and eating a mahi mahi that you caught yourself under an evening’s summer sun is an experience nobody should miss out on.
In case you were wondering about the name, it comes from the Hawaiian language and means “very strong”.
Where To Find Mahi Mahi
While mahi mahi can be found offshore, the summer months see them come closer to the shore, which makes summer an ideal time to go fishing if you want to catch one.
While little is known about the mahi mahi’s migratory patterns, it is known that they can migrate long distances in short periods of time.
The mahi mahi you find closer to the shore are likely to be younger (and so smaller) than the older, larger ones that are further out to sea.
As mentioned above, they live in both tropical and subtropical waters.
Their preferred water temperature is about 82 degrees, but they will tolerate temperatures as low as 68 degrees.
Mahi Mahi Fishing Regulations
The regulations set by different states can differ, so pay close attention to the regulations of the spot you end up fishing from.
For example, in Maryland and Delaware, there is a daily limit of 10 mahi mahi per person, or a limit of 60 mahi mahi per boat, but there is no size limit on what you’re allowed to catch.
Virginia, on the other hand, also has the same 10 per day limit but also has a rule that only mahi mahi at least 20 inches long can be caught and kept.
Best Bait For Mahi Mahi
In the wild, mahi mahi like to eat squid, mackerel, and crustaceans and are also known to be good at hunting flying fish.
This means that these can all make useful baits for mahi mahi.
They’re known to happily eat chunks of squid, of just about any kind of cut fish, and also ballyhoo.
Best Lures For Mahi Mahi
Thankfully, there are several different routes you can go down if you want to use a lure to catch mahi mahi.
Artificial squid are a good one, playing on the mahi mahi’s love of the real thing.
Other good choices are diving plugs, daisy chains, spreader bars, and soft plastic jigs.
Best Tackle For Mahi Mahi
One thing that’s important to understand about mahi mahi is that they live up to their name – they’re strong fish that will often put up a big fight before you’re able to reel them in.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to use strong fishing tackle and bring extra in case it breaks when you’re on the hunt for mahi mahi.
A braided or fused line is optimal, ideally weighing 30 to 50 lbs.
A swivel is also a very good idea, as a mahi mahi thrashing around on your line has the potential to get it tangled and weaken it otherwise.
We would also suggest a fluorocarbon leader. These are all but invisible to fish, and can make the difference between getting a big mahi mahi on your line and having it swim away because it’s noticed that something’s up.
Best Techniques For Catching Mahi Mahi
You’ve got a bit of luck if you’re looking to catch a mahi mahi – these fish are drawn to floating objects like weeds or even your fishing float on or just below the water’s surface.
This means that you can throw your bait next to a patch of seaweed and hope to attract some fish.
The thing is that mahi mahi travel in schools, and if you want to keep the group’s interest, you’ll need to give them something.
For that reason, mahi mahi fishermen often keep a bucket of bait close at hand to keep the school around.
If you’re going to be trolling, rather than bait fishing, you can do the same kind of thing by aiming for areas with lots of floating seaweed.
You’re also in luck that mahi mahi might also be attracted by the disturbance made by the boat you’re in.
Mahi Mahi are both beautiful, fun to fish for, and delicious to eat. For all those reasons, it’s a fish that anyone interested in sport fishing should have the pleasure of hunting.
The journey to find it is often just as enjoyable is the catch itself.
Since they’re plentiful in summer and live in some of the most beautiful places in the world, it’s never an unpleasant experience to go to where the mahi mahi are and try your luck.
Just remember that they’re strong fish that can take you by surprise if you don’t know what to expect.
But, now that you do know what to expect, no mahi mahi is going to get the drop on you!
It still might not be easy, but when you look at that picture of you grinning with your catch, all of the hard work and study will be worth it.