Both Sport and Commercial fisherman seek Dolphin fish, due to their beauty, size, food quality, and healthy population. Also known around the globe as Mahi-mahi, they are popular in many restaurants, worldwide.
Commercial fisherman are after them for their appeal to restaurant eaters that ferociously feed on them due to their delectable taste. This fish is not only sought after for it's taste, but also for it's startling beauty and it's ability to fit the menus of most people trying to lose weight.
Sport fisherman go after this species, not only for it's good eating, but also because of their ability to put up a strong and arduous fight. Once you catch one (even a small one), you will know you've been in a battle and after the fishing excursion, desire a competent masseuse.
Where to seek them Out
Charter boat captains most often look for floating debris (ANY floating object, i.e., 4" X 8" sheet of paneling, palm trees and fronds, a couple of floating empty beer cans, ANYTHING!) and frigatebirds near the edge of the reef in about 120 feet of water. Weed Lines (saw/sea grass) also makes a wonderful foraging shelter for Dolphins, they tend to stay just beneath the weed line to hunt for food.
Effective Gear & Techniques
Try to use thirty- to fifty-lbs. gear when trolling for mahi-mahi, or Dolphin.
Fly-fishermen may especially look for frigatebirds to find big fish, and then use a bait-and-switch technique.
Rigged Ballyhoo, or Goggleyes, or a net full of live sardines tossed into the water can drive mahi-mahis to the point of a feeding frenzy. Hookless teaser lures can have the same effect. Once the fish are attacking the food-chum or other bait, the flyfishermen will hook one or two Dolphin and tie them off to a boat cleat. With those fish securely tied on, the other dolphin in the group will continue to feed and be easy prey for the fishermen's bare treble hooks after that.
Just keep on pulling them in 'til they are all done, at last pull in the remaining two "judas dolphins" and ready yourself for some tremendous washing of the boat fighting deck (by this time it will be ankle deep in Dolphin blood, they bleed like stuck hogs).
Mahi-mahi/Dolphin are usually found in the Caribbean, North and South America's Pacific including Costa Rica, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida's Atlantic Coastline, Southeast Asia, Hawaii and many other places worldwide.
Dolphin/Mahi-mahi have compacted bodies and long dorsal fins that extend almost the entire length of their bodies. Their caudal fins and anal fins are sharply curved inward. They are distinguished by their dazzling colors: golden on the sides, and bright blues and greens on the sides and back.
Adult males have sharply protruding forehead that is the dominant feature that goes well above the body proper. The females have a rounded head and are generally smaller than males, in weight and size.
Generally, Dolphin live 4 to 5 years. Average fish weigh in at 15 to 29 lbs.. They seldom go beyond 33 lb, and mahi-mahi over 40 lbs. are exceptional.
Going on a charter excursion, mostly you would think are taken in order to go in search of Marlin, Sailfish or some other exotic fish, but Dolphin/Mahi Mahi are becoming one of the most popular charters for new fishermen as well as the "new kids" just learning to catch a dream.
The telling of this tale, though, is that they also are gaining in popularity with the non-chartering public. Desiring, typically, some tough fighting and good eating fish these average boat owners, taking their holiday or weekend excursions, and opting more and more to hunt for dolphin, rather than the larger ocean denisons.
They are finding these fish to be the perfect opponent, a worthy adversary for the hungry fisherman with a palette for a tasty morsel of file', broiled, or baked in garlic butter, in their kitchens, or over an open grill!
Go Get 'um!