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:

How to Find Mahi Mahi and Wahoo Offshore-Fishing for Pelagic Fish Offshore-Fishing Tips: Tips and Strategies for Using SATFISH SST Charts.

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

Florida Keys Fishing charters

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 Best Bait for for Mahi Mahi

When targeting mahi-mahi, a highly sought-after game fish known for its vibrant colors and delicious taste, the choice of bait can make a substantial difference in your fishing success. Here is a summary of effective baits and techniques that are known to attract mahi-mahi:

  • Ballyhoo: This is a commonly preferred bait among anglers for mahi-mahi. Its lifelike swimming action when trolled can be irresistible to mahi mahi.

  • Squid: Squid is another favored bait for mahi-mahi fishing. It can be used either live or cut, and its natural appearance in the water is quite appealing to the fish.

  • Cut Fish: Various types of cut fish can also serve as effective bait. The scent and flesh of the cut bait can entice mahi-mahi, especially when other options are not readily available. Cut sardines and flying fish two of the absolute best cut fish baits for for mahi mahi.

  • Pilchards: These small baitfish are effective when used for trolling or chunking. Their size and movement in the water can prove to be an excellent way to lure mahi-mahi.

  • Artificial Lures: Specific lures designed for mahi-mahi fishing can also be very successful.  When targeting mahi mahi in Florida Keys artificial squids, daisy chains,  and seawitches can create an exciting presentation that mimics a school of flying fish which is the dolphins favorite bait fish.

  • Live Baits: When slow trolling or drifting near fish aggregating devices (FADs), logs, pallets or weedlines live baits sardines, small jacks, and cigar minnows and pinfish can be particularly effective for attracting larger mahi-mahi.

To maximize your chances of catching mahi-mahi, it’s recommended to keep a variety of baits at hand. While trolling, it is beneficial to have pitch bait ready, as mahi-mahi often follow a hooked individual, offering the chance to hook multiple fish in quick succession.Remember, mahi-mahi are opportunistic feeders with large appetites, and while they may bite on various baits, using the ones mentioned above could increase your chances of a successful fishing trip.  Additionally, proper rigging and presentation of the baits will further enhance their effectiveness in attracting these game fish.

The Best Mahi Mahi Lures

Sea Spook Baits, a family-owned and operated business located in Deerfield Beach, Florida, has established itself as a notable manufacturer in the fishing industry. Renowned for their ORIGINAL Weed-Less Rigged Squid, Sea Spook Baits has garnered a reputation for producing effective and high-quality saltwater baits.

Florida Keys Bait-Rigged Squid

Their commitment to quality is evident through their carefully crafted products, designed to enhance the fishing experience for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Florida Keys Wahoo Baits

Florida Keys- Sea Spook Baits

Tavernier Creek Marina is considered the best place to buy tackle in the Upper Florida Keys has partnered with the brand to supply their products, recognizing that they align with the marina’s dedication to meeting the diverse needs of the Florida Keys fishing community they serve. This collaboration not only reinforces Sea Spook Baits’ reputation for excellence but also enhances Tavernier Creek Marina’s offerings, solidifying its status as a destination that provides customers with superior fishing supplies. Anglers visiting Tavernier Creek Marina can expect access to a selection of Sea Spook Baits’ renowned products, which are sure to contribute to a successful and enjoyable fishing adventure.

The Science of Fishing

The Science of Fishing

The Secret Florida Keys Wahoo Fishing Lure

Mahi-mahi are attracted to bright colors. Use lures or baits in shades of yellow, green, pink, or blue to get their attention. My personal favorite color is blue and white as it matches the color of a flying fish, which is dolphins favorite meal.

If you plan a fishing trip to the Florida Keys, I recommend purchasing one of our locally-made lures, the Islamorada Flyer. This flying fish lure with wings should be your number one purchase. Purchase an Islamorada Flyer by clicking here

Flying Fish

Islamorada Flyer

Another really good mahi mahi lure is made by Evolution Lures. This particular flying fish lure has light blue glow. Click here to order.

The Best Flying Fish Lure

Evolution Lure Flying Fish



The Mahi Mahi Migration Pattern

For anglers targeting dolphin (the fish, commonly known as mahi-mahi or dorado), aligning their efforts with the timing and route of dolphin migrations can be a key strategy. By tracking environmental cues such as temperature changes and water currents like those in the North Atlantic Gyre, anglers can increase their chances of consistent catches.

Gulf Stream Florida Keys

Loop Current and Florida Current

North Atlantic Gyre

This clockwise movement of the North Atlantic Gyre is a major driver in the transatlantic ecosystem for mahi mahi, influencing climates, sea temperatures, and biological productivity. It impacts weather systems and is essential for the transport of heat from the tropics to the polar regions, playing a vital role in global climate regulation. Additionally, the gyre supports rich fishing grounds and affects shipping routes due to the strong currents it encompasses.

  • The Gulf Stream: As an integral part of the North Atlantic Gyre, the Gulf Stream is the most powerful and celebrated of these currents. Originating from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida, it flows northwards hugging the eastern seaboard of the United States before veering east across the Atlantic towards Europe. The Gulf Stream not only transports warm water and influences weather patterns across the Atlantic, but it also benefits marine navigation and ecological diversity in the regions it touches.
  • North Atlantic Drift (also known as the North Atlantic Current): This is a continuation of the Gulf Stream past the Grand Banks near Newfoundland, where it loses some of its tropical characteristics. The North Atlantic Drift extends into the northeastern part of the Atlantic Ocean and has a profound impact on the climate of Western Europe by transferring warmth northward, contributing to milder conditions despite the high latitudes.
  • Canary Current: Proceeding southwards along the western edge of the North Atlantic Gyre, this cooler water current flows along the northwest coast of Africa, from Morocco to the Gulf of Guinea. Named after the Canary Islands, this current is characterized by its lower temperatures and plays a role in the upwelling of nutrient-rich waters that are beneficial for marine life off the west coast of Northern Africa.

The Gulf Stream is an important Atlantic ocean current with significant influence over the climate and marine environment along the eastern coast of the United States. With origins in the Gulf of Mexico, this warm and swift current travels along the U.S. eastern seaboard and Newfoundland prior to crossing the Atlantic Ocean as part of the North Atlantic Drift.

Characterized by its elevated temperature and salinity, the Gulf Stream is distinct from the cooler, adjacent waters. Its narrowness and depth are considerable; typically, the Gulf Stream spans between 50 to 100 kilometers in width and reaches substantial depths, creating a prominent and recognizable ocean feature. Known for its robust current, peak velocities can surge to approximately 5 to 6 mph (around 8 to 9.7 km/h). Within the Gulf Stream, speed variances are common. On average, the current moves at about four miles per hour (around 6.4 km/h), but this rate can change based on specific location and other oceanic factors. Notably, dolphin fish tend to congregate just inside the swiftly moving current.

The best wahoo lure

The Best Bait for Florida Keys Dolphin is a Flying Fish

A phenomenon known as western intensification affects the Gulf Stream, making the current stronger and deeper on its western side, closer to the U.S. on its eastern side. As the Gulf Stream meanders northward, its eastern edge gradually shifts. During La’ Nino years we will experience more north winds than south, This north pushes the Gulf Stream further out.

For anglers, particularly in the Florida Keys, pinpointing the shoreward edge of the Gulf Stream is vital for successful fishing, especially for species like dolphin fish. This edge indicates where there may be a higher concentration of baitfish due to the merging of different ecosystems and food sources delivered by the current.

Understanding the precise location of the Gulf Stream’s edge is essential for the sport fishing community in Florida. It aids in navigation and strategic planning, especially for early-season dolphin fishing trips off the Florida Keys. Real-time tracking tools are invaluable for monitoring the Gulf Stream’s movement and behavior, offering insights that can lead to more fruitful fishing endeavors.

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.

A few notable characteristics of the Sargasso Sea include:

  • Seaweed Concentrations: It’s renowned for its extensive mats of floating sargassum seaweed, which have created a unique marine ecosystem. These floating rafts of algae provide a habitat for a variety of marine species, including fish, turtles, birds, and invertebrates. The seaweed offers food, shelter, and breeding grounds, forming a foundation for a complex food web.

  • Bermuda Triangle: The Sargasso Sea partially overlaps with an area popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle, a region reputed for mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft. However, the Bermuda Triangle is not officially recognized as a genuine geographic location or maritime danger zone by maritime authorities.

  • Blue Water: It is also known for its clear, blue water that’s because of the low nutrient content on the sea’s surface, limiting the growth of phytoplankton and thus resulting in greater visibility.

  • Marine Life: As you mentioned, it serves as a crucial breeding ground for various species, especially for eels. Both the American and European eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea to breed, after which they die, and their larvae then make the long journey back to their respective coasts.

  • Pelagic Fish Breeding Ground: The presence of large floating sargassum mats creates an environment conducive to the breeding of migratory pelagic fish such as mahi-mahi (also known as dolphin fish), yellowfin tuna, and wahoo. These species find shelter and food among the seaweed, and the larvae and juveniles use the floating sargassum as a nursery until they are mature enough to venture into the open ocean.

The Sargasso Sea exemplifies the dynamic and interconnected nature of oceanic systems, showcasing how currents and marine life interact to create unique environments vital for the health of global ocean ecosystems.

The Easiest Way to Catch Mahi Mahi 

Spot birds such as frigate birds, gulls, and terns often feed on the same baitfish that mahi-mahi prey upon. Anglers use this to their advantage by looking for flocks of birds diving into the water, which can signify that a school of baitfish is near the surface. The presence of baitfish is a draw for predators like mahi-mahi, so these natural indicators can lead fishermen to productive fishing grounds.

Find a floating structure or debris. Mahi-mahi are attracted to structures that float on the surface of the water. Such objects could include sargassum weed lines, floating wood, pallets, buoys, or any other debris that can provide cover. These structures offer a secure habitat for small fish, crustaceans, and other marine organisms. As a result, they act as natural fishing aggregating devices (FADs), with mahi-mahi often found nearby, hunting the smaller fish that seek refuge there.

Understanding the dynamics of ocean currents and temperature breaks is essential in optimizing fishing in the Florida Keys, particularly when targeting species like mahi-mahi. These environmental features create distinct conditions that can aggregate baitfish, which in turn attract larger predatory fish such as mahi-mahi. Read this next level blog about how to catch more mahi mahi by locating debris and migration patterns by clicking here.

Areas where the ocean floor’s topography changes dramatically can be hotspots for fishing. Such underwater structures(Marathon Hump) can cause upwellings, which bring nutrient-rich cold water to the surface, and can also influence current flow and temperature distribution. These factors combined can lead to greater fish abundance.

standard mapping

The East Marathon Hump 3D Map by Standard Mapping

For instance, when a hump on the ocean floor causes a rapid transition from deeper to shallower waters, it can result in strong currents with warmer waters above the thermocline. Mahi-mahi are known to favor these warmer waters. By identifying these areas, anglers can increase their chances of locating mahi-mahi as they are likely to congregate around these natural ocean structures searching for food. To find these zones I recommend purchasing the Standard Map 3-D Relief Map by clicking here. Use code Good Karma at checkout to get 10% any GPS card

Additionally, temperature breaks—a sudden change in water temperature over a relatively short distance—are also significant because they often mark the boundary between different water masses. These breaks create edges that concentrate marine life, providing excellent conditions for gamefish.


In practice, fishermen can capitalize on this knowledge by searching for these physical and thermal structures in the ocean, using them as an indicator of potentially successful fishing spots. This approach, combined with real-time oceanographic data and satellite imagery, can inform strategic decision-making on where to fish. To get a better understanding of how to find dolphin I highly recommending my Ultimate Guide for for finding dolphin offshore by clicking here.

A comprehensive understanding of how to read and interpret sea surface temperature maps and charts can thus significantly enhance the success rate of fishing trips. Anglers need to look for areas that exhibit the right conditions—such as temperature breaks or current edges near underwater terrain anomalies—to find mahi-mahi and other pelagic species more effectively.

For sport fishermen in the Florida Keys, locating the Gulf Stream’s edge is a vital aspect of successful fishing. The convergence of ecosystems at the Gulf Stream often brings together a diverse array of baitfish and other marine life due to the mixing of warm and cooler waters, making it a prime location for catching species like mahi-mahi (dolphinfish), tuna, wahoo, and marlin.

how to catch dolphin

The use of SATFISH, a real-time satellite technology has become an invaluable tool for the Florida Keys fishing community that targets mahi mahi. SATFISH offers high-definition satellite imagery and advanced planning features enable fishermen to pinpoint the most productive offshore fishing grounds by providing insights into sea surface temperatures, chlorophyll levels, and other oceanographic data that can indicate the presence of fish.

Additionally, SATFISH Offshore provides a comprehensive view of current conditions. These can include temperature breaks, color changes in the water, current eddies, and other factors that influence where fish may be congregating. By integrating this information with local knowledge and experience, anglers can more effectively target their efforts, leading to potentially more successful fishing trips.

Key Largo Fishing Charters

The Best Key Largo Fishing Charter is Good Karma Sportfishing

Furthermore, tracking the movement of the Gulf Stream can be crucial for early season dolphin fishing. With the right information, fishermen can increase their chances of finding these migratory fish as they travel along the current. This becomes particularly important given the potential shifts in migration patterns that have been observed in recent years.

It’s clear that leveraging SATFISH data can make a significant difference in the planning and outcome of mahi mahi fishing trips in the Florida Keys. As environmental conditions continue to change and evolve, the ability to access and interpret this information quickly will be increasingly important for those seeking to maximize their fishing opportunities while also contributing to the sustainable use of marine resources.

Learn How to Read an Altimetry Charts

Altimetry measures the height of the sea surface, which is important for understanding the ocean. Just like planet earth, the sea’s surface isn’t flat – it goes up and down based on the temperature of the ocean water. Yes, I am science nut, but the only time I use my B.S. degree in Biology with an emphasis in zoology is when I fish.  Cold water is denser and sinks, causing a dip in the sea level. In contrast, warm water is lighter and makes the sea level rise.

How to Read Altimetry Charts

First, I am by far no expert on altimetry charts, I just use my time wisely. So rather than scroll on Instagram watching strange fishing experiences, I study SATFISH charts in my free time, it’s a hobby that’s educational and helps me catch more fish.  Altimetry charts provide a visual representation of the sea surface height relative to the average ocean level, which is mapped using isobars. Let’s take moment, breath and consume some science stuff. Living the tropics, you natural become an isobar expert overtime. Weather is life. These isobars are lines that connect points of equal sea surface height as seen below in the SATFISH image.

  • Become the Isobars Reader: Each isobar on the chart represents a certain sea surface height. Normally, each isobar line indicates a 2-inch difference in height. Look for the tiny differences, like those I highlighted in the images below for the Florida Keys.
  • Be the Hero and Find that Upwelling and Downwelling: Look for patterns of closely spaced isobars that indicate changes in sea surface height. Areas where the isobars indicate lower than average sea levels often correspond to upwelling currents, where cold, nutrient-rich water rises to the surface, providing ideal conditions for plankton and, hence, fish. Conversely, areas with higher than average sea levels are often associated with downwelling currents, where the water is warmer and has fewer nutrients.
  • Locate Isobar Depressions Like the Legends Did before You. : Areas depicted as depressions (curving inward toward a lower value center) are indicative of upwelling zones. These are typically regions where you will find wahoo and dolphin because this where the bait fish will more than likely hanging out.
  • Observe the Latitude Lines Jimmy Buffet: Each horizontal line of latitude on the chart represents 60 nautical miles. Keep this scale in mind when gauging the distance across the surface features shown in the altimetry data. Would not get caught in this, I just focus on the color changes and look for isobar depressions.
  • Look for Color Gradations: The SATFISHaltimetry charts may use color to distinguish different heights of the ocean surface. Cooler colors (blues and greens) typically represent lower sea levels (upwelling areas), while warmer colors (shades of reds and  and somewhat yellows) represent higher sea levels (downwelling areas). Take a close look at the image below.
  • Assess Isobar Spacing: Closely packed isobars suggest strong currents and potentially rapidly changing conditions, while widely spaced isobars indicate calmer waters. Just some to be aware of.
  • Combine with Other Data and Finish Your Story: You must combine the results so you can put together the fishing finding puzzle, combine SATFISH altimetry data with SATFISH sea surface temperature (SST) charts and SATFISH chlorophyll charts. This is the approach I highly recommend you take to finding fish offshore if you wish to get better and catch fish consistently.

The SATFISH Altimetry data gives me super power insights into what’s happening on the ocean surface, particularly in relation to the topography of the ocean floor where I plan on going fishing the Florida Keys. This means it helps me understand how underwater humps and ledges influence ocean movement above.Altimetry data gives us important insights into what’s happening on the sea surface, particularly in relation to the topography of the ocean floor. This means it helps us understand how underwater mountains and valleys influence ocean movement above them.

Geostrophic Currents and Altimetry 

Keep in mind as you study SATFISH SST Offshore Maps,  altimetry doesn’t directly measure the effects that wind has on water surfaces. Still, it does provide us with information about geostrophic currents. These geostrophic currents are movements of ocean water caused by the balance between gravity and the planet earth’s rotation. They’re significant because they can show us areas of high oceanic activity where wahoo and mahi mahi are likely to be.

Many species of fish, including flying fishing sardines, bullet size bonitos, tuna, and swordfish, tend to follow these currents for a few reasons:

  • Food Supply: Geostrophic currents often bring nutrients from the deep to the surface, which boosts the growth of plankton. This attracts small baitfish, which in turn attracts large wahoo, swordfish and mahi mahi.
  • Migration Routes: Many of these species migrate long distances and use these currents to help them move more efficiently, conserving their energy as they travel. Study SATFISH everyday so that you can get a better understanding of how these migration patterns correlate to the geostrophic ocean currents.
  • Temperature Regulation: Different species prefer different temperature ranges. Geostrophic currents can create boundaries between warm and cold water masses, which these fish might use to find their preferred place to set up camp and eat.
  • Commercial fisherman Longliners: These guys are successful because they use altimetry data to locate geostrophic currents and identify potential areas where fish may be found. Knowing where these currents are can help predict the route schools of mahi mahi might take. I suggest using SATFISH to do the same. I am also learning that commercial fisherman are mapping the bottom and using this information to track dolphin movements through trenches and ledges offshore. The technology and money involved in commercial dolphin fishing is way more than you can imagine as they are backed by large industries they need supply.
Florida Fishing Maps

Florida Keys Dolphin Fishing Map

I recommend studying the SATFISH altimetry everyday, even if you are not fishing.   Prior to going dolphin fishing offshore Dolphin I use the SATFISH altimetry for the Florida Keys. I am looking for change in sea surface height, an area known as a ” Thermal Front.”  I will go into detail about “Thermal Fronts” future below. Wahoo and dolphin(mahi mahi) are like structure, whether natural or man-made. This includes weed lines, floating debris, or any sort of sea trash, seamount, ledge, or wreck.

When using Standard Maps data combined with the SATFISH bathymetry Florida East Coast map sometimes  ” sea trash lines” or “floating structures” routes can be correlated with SATFISH altimetry data, as currents and winds that affect sea surface height can also concentrate debris. Altimetry is the fishing secret, especially when looking for dolphin offshore in the Florida Keys.

SATFISH Discount for Good Karma Sportfishing Followers

SatFish Offshore offers a 30-day free trial for new users. To use this offer, visit their website and create a free account. You must provide essential information to create your account, such as your name, email address, and location.

Receive $20.00 off your first year of SATFISH by entering the code: GOODKARMA at checkout. Click here to purchase SATFISH.

Once you have created your account, you can download the SatFish app on iOS or Android to plan your offshore fishing trips. During the 30-day free trial period, you can access all of the app’s features, including high-definition satellite imagery, real-time sea surface temperature data, and advanced planning tools. If you decide to continue using the app after the free trial period ends, you will be charged the regular subscription fee.

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 ( 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. 

How to Catch Mahi Mahi

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.

Florida Keys GPS Fishing Spots


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 correlation drawn between intense meteorological events such as powerful hurricanes and the timing of mahi-mahi migrations could provide insights into the underlying causes of these shifts. Storms can significantly impact the structure and flow of ocean currents like the Gulf Stream, which in turn may alter the migratory routes of fish. Over the past decade, the Gulf Stream has experienced variability which appears to have coincided with observed changes in mahi-mahi migrations.

For fishermen, acknowledging these shifts is vital for adapting their practices and ensuring sustainable catch practices. It may necessitate a re-evaluation of traditional fishing seasons and an increased reliance on scientific data to anticipate the movements of mahi-mahi populations. Moreover, conservation efforts must consider these altered patterns to effectively manage fish stocks and protect the species from overfishing and other environmental pressures.

Overall, the noted variations in mahi-mahi migrations underscore the dynamic nature of marine ecosystems and the importance of continuous monitoring and flexible management strategies.  Thus, it seems clear that changes in Gulf Stream activity over the past decade have resulted in significant shifts in crucial fish migration patterns – something that all fishermen need to be aware of as they plan their fishing trips.

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 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 for details.