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The Mahi are Running! The Mahi are Running!

R Green

Monday, June 01, 2015



Summer is fast approaching and that means the Florida Mahi Mahi are running through our incredible waters.  The Mahi Mahi are also known as dolphinfish, but they are ABSOLUTELY no relation to dolphin the mammal.  You may also hear them referred to as Dorado. 

Mahi Mahi love to live near the surface of our warm subtropical waters.  Youngsters will swim together as “schoolies” and while the females and smaller males are usually found near floating objects, including the brown algae, Sargassum, the large males prefer open ocean.

Fishing for Mahi Mahi is an incredibly fun experience and when you get lucky enough to get into a school of Mahi Mahi, every rod on the boat can start screaming with the reel’s drag.  The most fun is found when you find yourself hooking one of the bigger “bulls” (with their distinctively square head).  The name Mahi Mahi comes from the Hawaiian meaning “Strong-Strong” as these fish can be fighters when caught.

A common approach in finding Dorado is to look for the Frigate birds. The higher the Frigate bird, the deeper the Dolphinfish, so finding Frigates closer to the water line takes a sharp eye, or a pair of binoculars. 

Once you get that first fish on the line adrenaline and excitement take over, making it tough to get more Mahi Mahi on the boat before the school has vanished.  Anglers will have a plan! When you find Mahi Mahi without debris:

1) Make a tight circle with your boat, about a 2 knot speed, while throwing chum in the water and move the boat ahead to create current.

2) Throw a lot of free food in the water, including small chunks of Ballyhoo, Glass Minnows, and other bait fish. Chum will keep the fish near you!

3) Lay your hooks in the water with chunks of bait and let them drift in the current you created by keeping the boat moving slowly.

4) Keep a Mahi Mahi in the water as a decoy as this usually keeps the school from vanishing.  Change your decoy often as the decoy fish will loose their color and the school will surely disappear.

5) Gaff your fish off the side of the boat, NOT the stern, while the boat moves slowly forward. 

Mahi Mahi grow fast and are fast!  They can get almost 7 feet in length and can weigh up to 88 pounds.  Their short life span, typically no more than 5 years, means they have to reproduce quickly.  They can start spawning when only 4 to 5 months old and during spawning season will release 33,000 to 66,000 eggs every 2-3 days.  In our waters, they spawn under the Sargassum. A Mahi Mahi can burst up to 50 MPH for a short time.

Dorado are considered to be the most beautiful fish in the sea.  They can certainly put that beauty on display when you hook into one of these feisty fish and they powerfully jump out of the water.  That alone will get your adrenaline to a fevered pitch while you try to get this great tasting fish on the boat, then on the grill. 


Sources: Tormenter Tackle , NOAA , Bud & Mary’s , My FWC , RSWSC