By: The Main Attraction
Whether you call them Mahi-Mahi, Dolphinfish, Dorado, or any of the dozens of names used to refer to them, most agree that Mahi are an extraordinary fish. Their ability to grow and reproduce at astounding rates, coupled with their tendency to travel in large hungry schools, makes them a favorite among Florida Keys fishing enthusiasts. Mahi are also a blast to catch, take incredible photos, and taste delicious! If you are headed to the Keys and plan to fish for Mahi, some tips can help your trip succeed.
Keeping an Eye Out
Captains have an advantage from their tower when it comes to spotting floaters and fish in the water, but Mates and anglers have an essential role to play as well. Standing on the deck gives you the ability to spot a set of birds against the backdrop of the sky better than from a tall tower. Mates should keep their heads on a swivel and constantly be on the lookout for birds while they perform their tasks. Having the anglers watch for birds on the horizon can help spot fish while also being a great way to keep them from getting seasick!
For the Birds
If you see a large set of birds moving at high speed on the open water, they usually follow large schools of Skipjack Tuna or Bonita. Trying to get baits in front of a very fast-moving set like this can often feel like chasing your tail and waste a lot of precious time. Instead, look for smaller sets of birds around a weed line or a floater, as this is where you will most likely find Mahi. If you do not visibly see the fish, try putting out a simple spread of 2-4 baits and troll by to see if any fish are there. A small group of large Frigate birds (1-3) is an exciting find as it often indicates a set of big fish. In this scenario, the Captain should immediately run ahead of the birds, spot the large Mahi, and point to where it will be in about 30 seconds, not where it currently is. This technique greatly increases the odds that the Mate will pitch the bait in front of the fish, triggering a bite.
When it comes to targeting schools of Dolphinfish, your goal should be simple; you want to hook one or two fish that will hopefully bring an entire school following behind the boat for the anglers to catch one by one. As the angler is reeling in that first fish, the others should be casting cut bait behind the boat to the rest of the school. When the angler gets the first Mahi to the back of the boat (assuming it is average size), the Mate should leave the fish in the water and put the rod in a holder. The Mate should leave just enough line that the fish can circle and swim without being pulled out of the water by the rise and fall of the boat. However, the Mate cannot set the line too long either, as this would allow the fish to tangle with other lines.
At this point, hopefully, an entire school of Mahi has settled in behind the boat, and the anglers are happily all fighting fish. If you found this helpful information, there is a much more in-depth version of this article available on the Main Attraction website here:
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