What to know about Mahi Mahi (dolphin-Dorado) Fishing June 6, 2024



Mahi mahi, also known as dorado or dolphin fish (not to be confused with the marine mammal), are colorful and highly prized game fish found in warm ocean waters around the world. Mahi mahi fishing, like marlin fishing, is a popular offshore pursuit enjoyed by anglers for its excitement and delicious table fare. Here's an overview of mahi mahi fishing:


  1. Location: Mahi mahi inhabit offshore waters, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. They are often found near floating debris, weed lines, offshore reefs, and other structures that attract baitfish. Popular areas for mahi mahi fishing include the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Hawaiian Islands, Pacific coast of Central and South America, and parts of the Indian Ocean.

  2. Techniques:

    • Trolling: Trolling is a common method for targeting mahi mahi. Anglers troll a variety of lures, including brightly colored plastic skirts, feathers, and plugs, at varying speeds behind a moving boat. Lures that mimic the colors of baitfish or squid are particularly effective.
    • Casting: When mahi mahi are sighted near the surface, anglers may cast small jigs, flies, or live baitfish, such as pilchards or small ballyhoo, to entice strikes.
    • Drifting: In some instances, anglers may drift with live bait or cut baitfish in areas where mahi mahi congregate, such as around floating debris or weed lines.
  3. Equipment:

    • Rods and Reels: Medium to heavy spinning or conventional rods and reels are suitable for mahi mahi fishing. Reels should have smooth drags and sufficient line capacity to handle the fish's powerful runs and acrobatic leaps.
    • Line: Monofilament or braided fishing line in the 20 to 50-pound test range is commonly used. Heavier line may be necessary when targeting larger mahi mahi or fishing near structure.
    • Terminal Tackle: Swivels, leaders, and hooks appropriate for the selected fishing method are essential. For trolling, artificial lures with single or treble hooks are popular, while circle hooks may be preferred for live bait fishing to reduce injury to the fish.
  4. Spotting and Hooking: Mahi mahi are often found near floating objects, such as weed lines, debris, or buoys, where they feed on small fish and crustaceans. Anglers keep a lookout for these signs and may also spot mahi mahi swimming near the surface. When a fish is sighted, anglers cast or troll lures or baits into the vicinity to attract strikes.

  5. Fighting and Landing: Mahi mahi are known for their spirited fights, characterized by powerful runs and acrobatic leaps. Anglers must use skill and finesse to control the fish and prevent it from escaping or breaking the line. Once subdued, mahi mahi are brought aboard using a gaff or landing net and quickly dispatched to ensure the quality of the meat.

  6. Conservation: Many anglers practice responsible fishing practices, such as adhering to catch limits, practicing catch-and-release when appropriate, and minimizing handling time to reduce stress on the fish population.


Mahi mahi fishing offers anglers an exciting and rewarding experience, whether targeting trophy-sized fish for sport or harvesting fresh fillets for the dinner table. It's a pursuit that combines skill, strategy, and appreciation for the beauty of the ocean environment.