How to Catch Mahi-Mahi in 2024
The Ultimate Guide for Catching Mahi Mahi in 2024
So you want to learn how to catch mahi-mahi in the Florida Keys? Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphinfish or dorado, are often considered one of the easier pelagic species to catch due to their abundant numbers and aggressive feeding habits. In this blog post, we’ll look at the Atlantic Ocean currents that mahi-mahi use as migration highways to arrive in the Florida Keys and more. If you are looking to take mahi mahi fishing to the next level then I highly recommend reading my blog:
Mahi-mahi, also known as the dolphin fish or dorado, is a surface-dwelling ray-finned fish found in off-shore temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters worldwide. They are highly sought after by anglers not only for their delicious meat but also for the exhilarating experience of catching them. Mahi-mahi are known for their dazzling colors—iridescent blue and green on the sides and back, with yellow on the sides and underbelly. These colors fade quickly upon death, making them even more unique. They are fast-growing and prolific, which makes them sustainable for fishing if done responsibly.
The mahi-mahi is known by several names around the world, each reflecting different cultural influences and languages. Here are some of the most common names for this species:
- Mahi-mahi: The Hawaiian name, which has been adopted widely in English-speaking countries and means “very strong” in Hawaiian.
- Dolphin Fish: Used in English due to their high-speed and playful jumping behavior, not to be confused with the marine mammal dolphins (Delphinidae).
- Dorado: Commonly used in Spanish-speaking countries, this name means “golden” in Spanish, referring to the fish’s vibrant coloration.
- Lampuki: In Malta, the fish is known as lampuka or lampuki (plural).
- Rakingo: Some Pacific Islands use this term.
- Calitos: A term used in some Spanish-speaking regions.
- Maverikos: In Greece, it’s referred to as maverikos.
- Shiira: In Japan, the fish is referred to as shiira.
Regardless of the name, mahi-mahi is a highly prized fish in sport fishing and cuisine, recognized for its beauty, strength, and flavor. It’s important to note that the various names emphasize different aspects of the fish, from its physical attributes to its behavior
Why Mahi-mahi are Considered Easy to Catch in the Florida Keys
While “easy” is relative in the world of fishing, here are some reasons why they may be accessible for anglers:
- Aggressive Feeders: Mahi-mahi are voracious and not particularly finicky eaters, which means they are likely to strike a wide variety of baits and lures.
- Surface Dwellers: They often feed near the surface, making them more visible and accessible to anglers compared to species that dwell in deeper waters.
- Attraction to Structure: They are known to congregate around floating objects and weed lines, making it easier for anglers to locate them.
- Schooling Fish: Mahi-mahi often travel in schools, so catching one often leads to opportunities to catch more.
- Visual Hunters: Their hunt by sight, making brightly colored lures and baits especially effective, which adds an element of simplicity in lure selection.
The Mahi Mahi Migration Pattern
The Sargosso Sea
The Sargasso Sea is a giant Atlantic Ocean gyre located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. This unique aquatic region is rich in nutrients, which support various plant and animal life. Additionally, the Sargasso Sea provides an important breeding ground for migratory pelagic fish, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo, to name a few. The Sargasso Sea is a distinctive body of water within the North Atlantic Ocean, defined not by land boundaries but by four major ocean currents forming the North Atlantic Gyre: the Gulf Stream to the west, the North Atlantic Current to the north, the Canary Current to the east, and the North Atlantic Equatorial Current to the south. This gyre circulates in a clockwise direction when viewed from above, and the center of it, where there is minimal current, is what we call the Sargasso Sea.
Mahi-Mahi Migration Pattern Map
Studies show that the mahi-mahi, like a bird, travels north for the summer and south for the winter; this was long thought, merely an idea based on speculation until mahi-mahi tagging data became readily available.
Then, the Dolphin Research Center (www.dolphintagging.com) started tracking mahi-mahi movements throughout the Atlantic Ocean using their innovative tagging systems; now, we can see what our oceans are telling us through this data.
Based on the tagging study results, I created this migratory mahi-mahi map to help beginners understand the migration patterns.
These map show the migratory ocean current highway routes that mahi-mahi may use to travel to and from the Florida Keys; along with this travel map, you can see the migratory highways paths these fish take to arrive at specific locations first in the Florida Keys.
The Great Atlantic Ocean Sargassum Belt
The Gulf Stream is a powerful ocean current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico to the coast of Florida. Along the way, it picks up a massive amount of seaweed known as sargassum. This seaweed then gets caught in a current known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, which runs from Florida to Africa. This belt typically contains a massive amount of seaweed, but in recent years the amount of seaweed has increased dramatically. Some scientists believe that this is due to changes in ocean temperature and circulation patterns. As a result of the increased seaweed, we see a thick mat of rotting vegetation. The sargassum first started showing up in large quantities in 2011, and it has had a devastating effect on the ecology of the Florida Keys.
This rotting seaweed does more than increase the amount of seaweed biomass in these regions:
- It heats the ocean surface and interferes with natural processes like bait feeding on sargassum.
- Block sunlight from reaching coral reefs resulting in coral bleaching.
- Interferes with and changes fish migration patterns.
Changes in Mahi-Mahi Migration Patterns
The Sargasso Sea’s health is intricately linked to the well-being of a myriad of marine species, including the migratory mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus). Recent observations have indicated a worrying trend: an increase in dead sargassum seaweed correlated with a decline in the population of migratory mahi-mahi in South Florida since 2011. The decay of substantial amounts of sargassum seaweed may be disrupting the mahi-mahi’s food supply and altering their natural migration routes, which in turn increases their susceptibility to fishing gear like longlines.In 2011 this increase in dead weed was directly correlated with a decrease in the number of migratory mahi-mahi observed in South Florida. Scientists believe that the massive biomass of dead sargassum may be interfering with the mahi-mahi’s ability to find food.
All animals, including birds and fish, will change migratory patterns based on environmental stresses such as overfishing. We need to understand these changes better to ensure that these fish populations remain healthy and sustainable.
When is the Best Time to Catch Mahi Mahi in the Florida Keys
Since 2011, changes have been observed in the timing of mahi mahi migrations along the Gulf Stream, a major Atlantic Ocean current influential to the migration patterns of many pelagic fish species including the mahi-mahi. Local fishers have noted that mahi-mahi are arriving at different times than they used to, specifically with larger groups being spotted later in the year, around August and September, rather than during the late spring and early summer. Such shifts could potentially disrupt fishing activities, particularly for charter boats and commercial fisheries that rely on the predictability of these patterns for their livelihoods.
The Best Key Largo Fishing Charter
Capt. Ryan Van Fleet, the owner and lead guide of Good Karma Sportfishing Charters, is a respected figure in the South Florida and Florida Keys fishing community. Good Karma Sportfishing is conveniently located at Tavernier Creek Marina, and they offer a high-quality Key Largo and Islamorada fishing charter service that has earned rave reviews from clients. He is known for teaching his clients about the intricacies of fishing Islamorada and Key Largo. Capt. Ryan’s expertise and experience are evident in the quality of his content blogs, which are based on real scenarios during his fishing charters, providing valuable insights for novice and experienced anglers. Capt. Ryan also offers two monthly fishing communities that meet on Zoom, online fishing courses, private coaching, and more.
Capt. Ryan, has established himself as one of the best fishing guides in the Florida Keys. He has made several appearances on popular YouTube channels, including Ryan Morie Outdoors, Landshark Outdoors, and Brook Christ Outdoors, where he showcases his expertise and provides viewers with exciting insights into what to expect when embarking on a fishing charter with him. These collaborations highlight the unique fishing experiences offered by Good Karma Sportfishing and demonstrate Capt. Ryan’s extensive knowledge and skills. With his appearances on these channels, viewers get a glimpse of the thrilling fishing adventures that await them in the Florida Keys. Tavernier Creek Marina as been featured in several Florida Keys fishing shows.
Capt. Ryan Van Fleet brings his expertise and passion for fishing to every Key Largo Fishing charter. He ensures every Islamorada and Key Largo fishing trip is tailored to meet the client’s needs and preferences, making it a memorable experience.
Good Karma Sportfishing and Coaching stands out for several reasons:
- 1. Expert Guidance: Capt. Ryan’s deep understanding of fishing in the Florida Keys ensures that clients are in safe and knowledgeable hands.
- 2. Customized Experiences: Good Karma Sportfishing offers customized fishing trips to meet the client’s needs, whether they’re experienced anglers or trying fishing for the first time.
- 3. Advanced Equipment: The charter uses top-of-the-line gear, including Seakeeper 2, ensuring a smooth and comfortable fishing experience.
- 4. Excellent Customer Service: Reviews highlight the team’s dedication to customer satisfaction, going the extra mile to ensure every trip succeeds.
If you’re looking for a charter that provides exceptional service and an unforgettable fishing experience, look no further than Good Karma Sportfishing and Coaching. To book a charter email firstname.lastname@example.org or text Capt. Ryan at 305-619-2126.
The patterns of the mahi-mahi migration are constantly changing due to environmental factors such as temperature and weather. Therefore, if you want to increase your chances of catching these fish, it’s essential to consider and plan your fishing trip accordingly. Learning about the migrations patterns of mahi-mahi, you’ll be better prepared to go out on the water and have a successful fishing expedition.
Using SatFish high-def SST, watercolor, and bathymetry layers can help you locate areas where temperature breaks overlap with color breaks and drop-offs in the Florida Keys. Remember to track your location on the SATFISH mobile app.
Good Karma Sportfishing fishing club members, benefit significantly from learning more about SST charts each month. Each month we discuss the SATFISH SST charts and how to use them effectively; members can gain valuable knowledge and insights that can improve their fishing skills. If you want to join the Good Karma Sportfishing Club, contact me at email@example.com for details.