How to Catch Mahi Mahi: 10 Great Tips
Thanks to its proximity to the ocean, Louisiana has some world-class and diverse fishing. One of the biggest, and best, fish to catch in the Gulf is Mahi Mahi. If you’d like to learn how to catch Mahi Mahi, click here.
Also known as dolphin or dorado fish, Mahi Mahi are known for their gorgeously bright colors. You definitely want to hook into some of these guys!
But it takes some know-how to find and catch Mahi Mahi, so you’d better do some research before heading out. To get you started on the right foot, here are ten tips on how to catch Mahi Mahi.
1. Know When to Go
The first step to catching yourself some Mahi is knowing the best time to go. Mahi can be found swimming around the Gulf of Mexico throughout the springs months and into summer. May and June as particularly hot.
You’ll also want to make sure you choose the right time of day. Mahi are generally day feeders, but they may come out to feed at night if the moon is providing enough light for them to see their food.
2. Know the Terminology
If you want help finding these fish, it’s good to know the terminology that’s associated with them. If you’ve booked a charter, you’ll want to know what your guides are talking about!
Are you looking for a schoolie or a slammer? There’s a difference.
The term “schoolie” refers to Mahi from five to 15 pounds in weight. Bigger fish are known as “gaffers.”
But if you’re looking for monster fish, a “slammer” is what you’re after.
Slammers are Mahi weighing more than 20 pounds. They can weigh over 50 pounds, with the World Record holder coming in at 87 pounds. But most of them don’t live long enough to grow that large, thanks to their being a popular fish for both eating and display.
3. Use the Right Bate
If you want to catch a Mahi, you’ve got to know what he wants for lunch. Imitate live fish by using a multi-colored streamer fly. Bucktail lures are highly recommended.
Or, use live baitfish, such as pilchards. Dead bait works too, but live is better.
Come prepared with a variety of baits. If the school you’ve found has already been fished, it may take a few tries to find something they’re interested in.
4. Use the Right Equipment
You’re going for big, aggressive fish, so you’ve got to come with the right equipment. A regular old home pond trout pole isn’t going to cut it.
You’ll need a strong spinning rod and reel combo, ideally containing a seven-foot rod. Your reel must have rapid to extra-fast action and be able to handle one-ounce lures with ease.
Don’t skimp on the line, either. 30lb fused line is most commonly used when fishing for Mahi.
5. Watch the Skies
That may sound like ridiculous advice for a fishing article, but you asked for tips, so here’s a good one. You love Mahi, but guess who else does? Birds.
Watch for groups of birds hovering over the water. That’s a good sign that there’s a school down below. Both frigate birds and sooty terns can lead you right to what you’re looking for.
6. Come Prepared to Fight
If you’re looking for a nice, casual fishing experience, Mahi fishing isn’t for you. If you want a Mahi, you’ve got to come ready to fight. They weren’t given the Hawaiin name for “strong-strong” for nothing.
Aggressive and fast, these fish aren’t for the faint of heart. And don’t think you’re done once you’ve got your Mahi into the boat. He’ll keep on fighting, so be prepared.
7. Know Where to Look
Mahi love warm water, so look for them in tropical and sub-tropical waters. They also like to hang out under floating debris and weet patches.
Why? Becuase that’s where baitfish like to be. Mahi schools will gather in these locations, then use their speed to ambush the baitfish.
Larger fish tend to like bigger weed beds.
8. Get Their Attention
You have multiple options when it comes to grabbing the attention of Mahi. Trolling, casting, jigging, and chunking are all great methods to try. Though these all work, trolling is your best option.
Just as they’re aggressive fighters, Mahi are aggressive eaters. They’re competitive, too. As long as you get the attention of one, the competition will likely be on.
9. Keep a Fish On the Line
Once you’ve got a Mahi on the line, don’t be too eager to get it off. Keep it on there until you’ve hooked another.
Mahi travel in schools and will get excited when one of them is hooked, so keep them around by leaving a fish in the water after you’ve hooked him.
10. Enjoy No Matter the Size
You’re looking for monster fish, but don’t wait until you find one to start having fun. Bringing in lots of smaller Mahi can be just as fun, and there’s always a chance you won’t find a monster during your trip.
Enjoy the experience no matter the size of Mahi you find. The fight, color, and taste of even the smaller fish will make your trip worthwhile.
How to Catch Mahi Mahi: A Summary
Now you know how to catch Mahi Mahi! But doing it is different than reading about doing it. So get out there and try it yourself!
As long as you have the right gear, the know-how, and strength to find and fight these fish, you’ll have the time of your life out on the water.
Mahi Mahi are fun fish to fight, but they aren’t the only monsters in the Gulf. If you’re interested in going after other large fish, check out our article on fishing for yellowfin tuna!