Key West Mahi Mahi Fishing

The Mahi-Mahi has many names such as Dorado, Dolphinfish or sometimes simply dolphin, even though it is not related to the marine mammal. It inhabits tropical and subtropical oceans all over the world. It is especially abundant in Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Florida Keys.

This fish looks very distinctive with a long body yet a blunt face. Males have prominent, protruding foreheads while the females have slightly more round heads. However, their color is what really stands out.

Mahi-Mahi have a brilliant mix of green and blue on their bodies which fade to a yellow-white mix on their underbellies. Their dorsal fin extends almost the length of their bodies and their pectoral fins are a striking shade of blue.

They usually change color when taken from the water, turning to gold or Dorado in Spanish, the origin of one of their nicknames. Dolphinfish will change colors a few times before death before settling into a yellow-grey.

These fish get big. Mahi-Mahi can grow to almost six feet but most grow to three. They generally weigh 15-30 pounds although can grow to 60 pounds in rare cases. Males tend to grow larger than females. Mahi grow quickly as well, reaching lengths of eight inches in their first five months of life.

When they reach that age, Mahi-Mahi are sexually mature. This is due to their short life span of four years, although some fish can reach age five. The species spawns throughout the year with peaks in both spring and fall.

You can find this fish when offshore fishing in the Sargassum weeds of the gulf stream and the waters off Florida feeding on a host of prey. Mahi-Mahi eat a wide variety of prey including small oceanic fish, juveniles of larger oceanic fish, larvae of benthic fish and invertebrates. Meanwhile, tuna, marlin and sharks feed on the Dolphinfish.

How I fish for Mahi Mahi

Mahi fishing is just as much about using your eyes as anything. In every successful day of Mahi fishing you need to find one or all of the following:

( birds of any kind, weedlines, floating debris , or a color change )

Mahi are the fastest growing fish in the ocean and need to eat almost constantly they will be where ever the food is. When I target Mahi trolling is our first course of action. That means the boat is constantly moving forward as we drag rigged ballyhoo or lures behind the boat. Once a fish is hooked we clear all lines that are not hooked up and get out spinning rods rigged to toss to any Mahi that might follow the ones on the line up to the boat. In times like this if you are patient and well prepared you can make your whole day off one school of fish. Mahi almost never travel alone. Small to medium sized fish can be in schools from 10 to 100 fish strong. If you can keep them interested you can catch them one after the other till you have your fill. Its only when Mahi reach a larger size that they break off into mated pairs. This is when you get your shots at some truly wall worthy sized Mahi anywhere from 25 to 75 lbs.