Summertime Dolphin fishing in Key Largo these past two
months has been very productive for Mahi(dolphin). Fish up to 40lbs.
are being caught regulary with plenty of schoolie size fish in the 5
to 10lb. size. On two recent trips we were finding mahi right away and
catching our limit of fish within a couple of hours.
That's 50 mahi all of which were 5lbs. or better. The
best method we use for finding these fish are trolling at fast speeds
with artificial lures. This gives us a chance to cover a lot of area
while looking with binoculars so we can spot birds feeding on the
surface or floating pieces of debris.
These are the best signs for dolphin. Once we spot a
set of birds feeding on the surface we will troll up from behind them
and spot the mahi from the tower of the boat. Then we cast live baits
right in front of their path.
They will take the bait just about everytime this
method is used. It is very effective. Once a fish is hooked the rest
of the fish from the school will swim with that fish. This is when you
can take advantage and start casting more baits at the schooling
dolphin, hooking up multiple times.
It can get crazy at times with five or more mahis hooked up at a time.
On June 16 Matt and his buddies from Chicago enjoyed a
great day of fishing for Mahi. We found many sets of migrating fish.
After running the boat about 12 miles offshore we quckly found our
first set of birds and trolled over to them.
We hooked a 15 pounder and three more dolphin that size
swam up with the one we had hooked. We caught all of those fish. Then
we found another set of birds catching another 20 fish under those
birds.. The next set of fish we found were the biggest catching
one that weighed 25lbs. We quickly reached are limit of 40 dolphin and
spent the rest of the day trying for a Blue Marlin. No luck with the
marlin but a great day in Key Largo fishing for mahi.
The Mahi are starting to get back to normal. Lately the dolphins have really been on a mission to eat every small fish in the ocean. The only problem with that is there has been a tremendous amount of food for them. Even small patches of grass have held tons of tiny bait fish and migrating dolphin are using them like drive in windows, stopping off to grab a snack then continuing south bound. Look for any areas where the Sargasso is pushed together and watch for bird activity there.
Like I said though, these fish have easy feeding opportunities and may not like what you offer them. I would take some time to either catch a few live baits on your way out or even purchase a few at your local bait store.
Another thing to note is make sure you bring several types of bait ranging from squid and Bonito to even live shrimp and pilchards if you can. It never hurts to have a buffet when fish get finicky. Another trick which gets lethargic fish fired up is throwing buck tail jigs in front of traveling fish and working it as fast as you can. Try an ounce and a half blue and white hook up lure jig with a sliver of a belly strip and you can't miss.
We have also been finding a steady supply of skip jack tuna and black fins also. Work around 250 to 300 feet with a spread of small lures fished way back and you will get bites for sure. Reef fishing on the other hand has been ok too.
YT snapper are steady while grays are doing very good at night. Find the hard bottom in 50 to 60 feet and burn some oily chum. The grays are swarming after dark and range from 2 to 5 pounds on the average.
Back offshore, I have had several reports of hungry bill fish. Capt. Martin Formento had a double Blue Marlin this week. One fish ate a schoolee dolphin they were winding in while the other blue piled on a trolled rigger bait. One fish was 400 pounds and ate thru the smaller leader pretty quick but the other fish was 200 pounds and they were able to get a release after a lengthy fight. My mate Erik Wantuk was out with his father and family and also enjoyed a good fight with a chunky white marlin. So don't count out the bill fish right now either. Get out there and enjoy the weather.