Are you a Mahi Catching Expert?? Below are some tips
When you hit the water are you set up to target Mahi-Mahi or do you just troll along, hoping to find that unlucky free swimmer; a lone Mahi which happens to bite your bait in the vast ocean, full of other offerings to eat? Do you have the knowledge and tactics to increase your success rate every time you hit the water?
Are there signs of life?
What approach do you use to targeting Mahi? Are you thinking about weeds, birds, color or temp change? Are you giving any thought to wind patterns during the prior couple of days, and what are the current winds? The primary goal of a Mahi-Mahi is to EAT, and EAT A LOT. Mahi also known as Dolphin are one of the fastest growing pelagic species. There are reports of fish packing on up to 50lbs in 9 months. The only way for a fish to sustain that growth rate is to EAT. When you run offshore, your goal is to find weedlines or flotsam that contain bait fish, small crabs, squid, etc. These are promising signs when searching. Weed mats consisting of sargassum are a favorite spot for the food source, and therefore a Mahi hangout.
Let this sink in . . . Mahi are known to eat as between 5 % to 20% of their body weight per day. They spend their entire life eating; while they are eating, they are thinking about what they are going to eat next.
Water temperature are another indicator of being in the right area where Mahi may be present. The opportune sea surface temperature for Mahi is between 74-77, and a few Mahi have been tagged in waters up to 85 degrees. Keep an eye on temp to assure you’re trolling or searching in the right zone. Especially be aware of sudden temperature changes.
Color changes may help you as a visual cue. You want to find clear blue water. Color changes indicate changes in current, and also changes in nutrient levels. The changes attract baitfish and sometime trap weed lines which increase your odds for Mahi and other species as well.
Tactics, it’s time for battle!
How to fish for mahi, must be one of the most widely varied topics….what tactic should be used to hook up with a Mahi. The list looks something like, but isn’t limited to the following:
· Trolling (live or dead bait: Ballyhoo, Flying Fish, Mullet, etc),
· Kite Fishing
· Topwater Chuggers
· Light Spinning Tackle
· Chumming and Chunking
· Use of downriggers (Especially when the Sea Surface Temperature is warm)
In our opinion, the best way to guarantee success is to be flexible and use any of the combination above. Don’t be afraid to try multiple tactics when it comes to fishing for Mahi. When the bite turns off or they seem finicky, know how to turn them back on; live bait is often the key to success when this happens. Most important, have a backup plan and don’t give up when fish don’t seem interested in eating to EAT. Conditions and appetite can change in an instance. I have been on the quintessential weed line where nice size gaffers schooled and couldn’t get them to eat a single piece of hooked. Throw a piece of unhooked squid and they swarm it with fierceness . . . put a hook in it, nothing. Frustrating? You better believe it’s frustrating, however each time you’re on the water you learn a little more. You should ALWAYS have pre-rigged light tackle rod with a smaller hook. You may have to take your time and finesse the fish, but it will get the job done.
Here are some tactics to use:
Trolling Dead Bait / Lures
My preferred methods to put Mahi in the boat is by trolling both lures and dead bait. To me there is something enticing about finding the correct color combinations to match the hatch and the rigging that is involved. These challenges makes trolling fun. There are many options for trolling, below are 3 specific options.
1. Skirted Ballyhoo- This is any lure rigged with a dead ballyhoo.
2. Naked Ballyhoo- Natural presentation of a dead ballyhoo (most often chin weighted)
3. Naked Lure – Lure run with just a hook out the back no bait.
Since the rigging of ballyhoo is about as debatable as who the has been the best president, we will post an entire blog on the various rigging techniques in the future. From there you can decide which method is better for your boat. As a general overview we will just refer to the ballyhoo as “rigged ballyhoo,” meaning whichever way you chose to rig them.
Skirted Ballyhoo is where the ballyhoo is rigged with lure or skirt over top, usually the top third of the ballyhoo is covered. This method uses the flash of the ballyhoo and the long profile with the added flash of the trolling lure. This method takes a little more planning to pre-rig lures or re-set them should they get hit or the bait come off during trolling.
Naked Ballyhoo offers a more natural presentation of basically what the baitfish would look like in the wild, some will utilize the natural eyes and some guys take the eyes out to aid securing the bait and keep it from “washing out” while trolling. Purchasing high quality freshly frozen bait will offer the best looking natural presentation (Our tournament team trusts all of our bait needs to Sinister Ballyhoo).
Naked Lures represent lures that are utilized right out of the bag without the use of bait. Artificial lures (Pictured on the left) offer a great way for beginners and veterans alike to purchase a lure literally clip it to a pole and fish, straight from the bag. Another method is for smaller lures or skirts to be added before the lager resin lure to create what is known as a daisy chain. These configurations of multiple skirts mimic schools of baitfish trying to elude the pelagic predator.
Trolling in my opinion offers the best chance for success offshore especially considering the high probability of by catch (mahi, tuna, wahoo, kings) and the large area of coverage by continually moving. Trolling to some may be considered monotonous or boring, however if you are paying attention and switching up your offering based on environmental conditions and surrounding baits, trolling always keeps you busy with some task while waiting on the best sound in fishing.
Remember keep those lines tight and wet and enjoy your day out on the water.