Mahi-Mahi, or the dolphin fish, are among the most amazing game fish in Key West. Found in many tropical regions around the world, mahi-mahi is most abundant in the Key West area from April through September, though it’s during the summer months they really start congregating here in great numbers. And don’t worry– the mahi-mahi is a fish and not a mammal and is unrelated to the highly intelligent dolphin the term usually refers to.
The dolphin fish’s appearance is among the most striking you’ll find in the waters near Key West. Males are marked by a protruding, squarish forehead, while females tend to be smaller in size and display a more rounded head. Dolphin fish range in length from 3-5 feet and typically weight between 30-50 pounds. The colors displayed by the mahi-mahi are truly dazzling– a goldish green on the sides and a bright blue along the back that combine to make the mahi-mahi a gorgeous fish both in and out of the water.
In addition to putting up a great fight once they’re hooked, the mahi-mahi also makes for delicious table fare, which is another reason they’re targeted in Key West so often.
Fishing for Mahi-Mahi in Key West
Although blind trolling in fairly deep waters always gives you a fighting chance at snaring a dolphin fish, experienced Key West fishing guides often use telltale flocks of birds to locate larger schools of them. Following birds that are associated with schools of Mahi-Mahi is one of the fastest ways to locate and land them during the summer month.
Locating large schools of Mahi-Mahi is key to landing them in great numbers, so it’s best to use an experienced guide like Captain Pepe to put you onto them. Once you’ve found a spot where they’ve gathered, you can catch adult dolphin fish with live bait, dead bait, or high-quality lures, though they’re especially fond of crab, squid, and flying fish.
Leaving cut bait or chum in the water is a great way to keep Mahi-Mahi swimming close to your boat and landing several of them in a short amount of time. Fortunately for both sport fishermen and seafood lovers, mahi-mahi are abundant in the waters of Key West and there’s little chance of depleting their supply. New stricter size regulations on these fish will also ensure they will be around every spring.