Dolphin (Mahi - Mahi) are one of the fastest growing fish and are thought to live about five years. They are normally found offshore in warm water like the gulfstream. "Schoolies" are small dolphin that range from one to ten pounds and travel in schools. "Bulls" are large male dolphin and "cows" are large females. Dolphin normally begin showing up in the offshore waters of the Keys in mid to late April.

Choice of bait is important, but when dolphin are hungry, they will bite almost anything. Sometimes the local bait houses still have fresh ballyhoo this time of year which is the bait of choice. If you can't find fresh bait, don't worry because they bite frozen bait (thawed) almost as well and will even bite artificial lures such as "Billy Baits". A "Billy Bait" rigged with a ballyhoo is a great combination. Many captains also put colorful "skirts" (plastic item that comes in various colors) on their baits. The wise captain will troll multiple baits rigged in different fashions. For example, you may want to troll one ballyhoo "naked", a second with a pink skirt, a third rigged with a "Billy Bait" and an artificial lure as a fourth bait. Once you get a couple hits, you'll figure out what the choice bait is for the day and rig your others to match. Tackle size of course is the preference of the angler. We suggest 20 lb. tackle and recommend a leader of about 8 feet.

Between April and August, finding dolphin is not to difficult. You will generally find them in 400 to 800 ft. of water. Once you are off the reef (about 5-7 miles offshore), keep a watchful eye for birds that seem to be congregating in an area. If you can't find birds, look for sargasso grass (weed) that has formed a line. Weed lines and floating debris such as tree trunks, pieces of rope, and buckets are another favorite hangout for dolphin. If things are really going your way, you'll find birds feeding around your weedline or debris. Once you have spotted birds or debris, head straight for it. When your within about 150 yards, back down to a very slow troll to get your baits in the water. Once you have them in, pick up your trolling speed to a good clip (about 6 knots), but don't let your baits "surf". Make sure they aren't spinning either. If your trolling a weed line, stay off just enough to avoid fouling your lines.


If there are fish at this spot , you will have hooked at least one already. If its a nice size fish, enjoy the fight and get em to the boat. If it is a schoolie, keep the fish on the line and get it near the boat. Leave it in the water, and more often than not, you'll soon see all of its schoolie buddies circling around. Let the other anglers throw out some cut bait on a light rig . Next thing you know, everyone on the boat will have caught a fish or two. While you have that school around, one person may want to put a whole ballyhoo on some 20 pound tackle and cast it away from the boat. Let that bait sink to a depth of 30 to 40 feet. You may just find yourself a slammer.

Enjoy your fishing but after you have caught your dinner, which hopefully is less than the legal limit, fish for the big boys and release them when you get em to the boat (after the pictures).

Rudy Sierens,
Tel/Fax: +1(721)545-2177
Cellular: +1(721)522-7120
Airport Road (across Mc Donalds), Simpson Bay
St. Maarten