The Best Mahi Mahi Charters

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Everything to Know About Booking a mahi mahi fishing charter

What are the best mahi mahi fishing charters?

Our Damn Good Guides currently offer 530 mahi mahi trips, and the most popular trips are Clearwater Mixed Bag Trip guided by Gage, South Padre Island Deep Sea Fishing guided by Emilio, and Open Ocean Big Game - 42' Sea Ray guided by Bryan.

Our guides are rated a 5 out of 5 based on 5078 verified reviews on Captain Experiences.

All guides on Captain Experiences are licensed, insured, and vetted by our team. You can access their reviews, click through trip photos, read bios to get to know them, and preview trip details like species, techniques, group sizes, boat specs and more.

What types of mahi mahi fishing charters are common?

Deep Sea fishing is the most popular for mahi mahi as well as nearshore fishing, inshore fishing, and jetty fishing.

The most common fishing techniques are trolling, heavy tackle fishing, and bottom fishing but light tackle fishing and jigging are popular as well.

How much do mahi mahi fishing charters cost?

for mahi mahi prices can range anywhere from $270 to $3,000 and up, but the average price for a half day for mahi mahi is $1,145. The average price for a full day for mahi mahi is $2,425.

When is the best month to go mahi mahi fishing?

The most popular season for mahi mahi fishing is summer, and most anglers book their trips 69 days in advance.

Do I need a fishing license for mahi mahi and what are the bag limits for mahi mahi?

See here for more information on mahi mahi fishing licenses, mahi mahi bag limits, and fishing season regulations for mahi mahi. When in doubt, your fishing guide will always know the right mahi mahi rules and regulations.

What is a Mahi Mahi?

The fish of many names. Alternatively (and confusingly) called mahi, dolphin, or dorado, this tasty fish is not at all to be confused with what many a layperson would classically consider a dolphin (which are highly intelligent aquatic mammals that breathe air and are not hunted). The dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) is a fast-growing fish found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters. Mahi-mahi are known for their distinct look which we’ll get into later, but suffice it to say they are one of the most recognizable saltwater species out there.

The name mahi-mahi is Hawaiian in origin and quite literally means “strong-strong” - a pound for pound heavy hitter. The name dorado is commonly used on the coast of Africa and near to Spain, while how the fish came to be associated as a dolphin is less clear.

What is clear is that these beautiful fish are prized around the world. They have extremely fast lifecycles, meaning they reach reproductive age quickly and grow quickly, and therefore are great to catch and eat relative to other species as there is little long-term impact on their populations.

Mahi are distinct in both their shape and coloring. They are truly a fish made to swim fast (up to 50 knots): sleek with compressed bodies and a single long dorsal fin extending mot of their body. You can tell females from males because cows have a low, rounded head while mature bulls have giant foreheads (look up some pictures, you’ll see what we mean). They are set apart from other fish by their iridescent coloring ranging from bright neon green and gold to all shades of blue to silver. However be warned, when fishing for mahi you need to take a picture within seconds of getting the fish out of the water, because these fish are known to fade in minutes into a muted grey color when they die. 

How big do Mahi Mahi get?

Mahi-mahi can live for about 4-5 years, and rarely grow bigger than about 30 pounds although it can happen. Females generally max out at around 20-25 pounds and males around 30-35 and about 3-5 feet in length.

As mentioned above they can be sexually active within a year and often within 6 months, so they are reproductive beasts. Mahi as small as 8 inches can be reproductive, and females can spawn 2-3 times in one year, producing tens of thousands of eggs per event. Since mahi live in warm climates, spawning can occur year-round. All of this together makes them truly one of the most prolific fish in the sea.

Whats the biggest Mahi Mahi ever caught?

While above we told you that most bull mahi are no bigger than 35 or so pounds, we lied. You’d be lucky to beat those numbers, but there are a few lucky anglers who have gone far above and beyond, scoring fish upwards of 70 and even 80 pounds. The current all-tackle world record mahi mahi is 87 pounds and this massive record dorado was caught all the way back in 1976 off the coast of Costa Rica. A number of impressive fish have been caught since but none have been able to beat this record. In 2015 an alleged 102 pound unofficial fish was caught off Cabo San Lucas, but the fish was never officially weighed, so unfortunately this one can’t be verified.

Where is the best place to catch Mahi Mahi?

If you want a chance at the record, your best bet is one of these 5 locations: Panama, Cabo San Lucas, Florida, the Bahamas, or Costa Rica. Mahi are found worldwide in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters and are commonly sought in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Central America, Hawaii, and in the Indian Ocean.

Mahi mahi spawn in warm ocean currents and their young (and often adults) are found in floating bunches of sargassum and other floating weeds and debris, feeding on small critters. Dorado are surface-dwellers and while they are found over deep water, are often near the surface. They run in schools while younger and are often fairly easy to spot due to their coloration and the way they shimmer in the water. If you want a big bull though, he will often run solo.

Mahi mahi are also a great bycatch when cruising for other pelagics such as marlin and wahoo. You will generally find mahi in the same areas and be able to land one or two as a nice test run for your big billfish.

When should I catch Mahi Mahi?

In the gulf coast and Florida, the best time for mahi mahi is generally April through June and can be found in good numbers throughout the summer, but they are really a year-round fish many places depending on the water temperature. More specifically, they are great to catch immediately after storms because the debris spread out by the storm will concentrate the fish.

In the US there are not many state or federal bag limits for mahi mahi, mainly because they are so fast to reproduce there are few concerns about depleting the population. In the Atlantic there is a 20 inch minimum.


How do you catch Mahi Mahi?

Now that we’ve told you all about dorado, let's help you catch one. There are generally two strategies here: trolling and sight-casting. You can catch mahi while trolling in two ways, some people will target them specifically, while some will catch them while looking for bigger targets (like a marlin). This is why you always want a few different setups in your spread - you never know what fish will popup beneath you (or more common for the surface-dwelling mahi, around you).

Even if you are trolling, you always want to make sure you have a few spinning reels setup for when you spot some action nearby. Woe is the angler who sees a big bull mahi but has nothing to cast. This also adds some excitement to the day and breaks up a big day of trolling with some sight casting. Many anglers will say that hooking mahi mahi while trolling is generally not fun, because the tackle is usually more geared towards a bigger fish and the mahi won’t stand a chance. Most anglers consider a lighter tackle spinner to be more of a sportfishing fight.

You’ll commonly find mahi near flotsam, and you can cast into them right away (some prefer to chum nearby first). You can chuck bait near the flotsam and leave the bail open so that the bait sinks and the mahi can find it. Mahi mahi are not known to be very bright, and will generally take the bait and respond quickly and enthusiastically to lures and bait. When reeling, mahi are fast - don’t let them take all your line out before its too late.

Are Mahi Mahi good to eat? What are the best Mahi Mahi recipes?

Mahi mahi is known as one of the true treats of the sea, and if you head out for some everyone knows you are coming home and inviting your friends and family for a nice grilled fish dinner. Their flesh is grey-white when raw, and cooks to a nice clean white that is known to not taste particularly fishy (partially due to young age). This means the fish is also attractive to some who might often say they “don’t like the taste of fish”. The most common way to prepare it is grilled; we suggest fish tacos.

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