Mahi Madness

By: Terry Gibson

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September and October are legendary months for bluewater fishing off Florida's East Coast, especially if you're after mahi mahi, which are locally called "dolphin."

Lots of other pelagic predators are in the mix, including blue and white marlin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. They'll take the same lures and baits that you troll for mahi, so be ready for anything, especially "mahi madness."

Few fish fight so acrobatically. They often attack trolling spreads in schools, creating chaotic scenes of shouting, ducking under lines, and frantically putting gaffed fish in the box where they can do no harm.

The fish are really concentrated in the fall. Cooling water temperatures to the north cause the fish to migrate back south, off Florida's East Coast. And offshore storms and onshore breezes push weedlines and other floating mahi habitat in toward the coast.

The biggest fish are usually caught off northeast Florida, my personal favorite place to target pelagic species in the spring and fall. You can't miss fishing out of Port Canaveral, St. Augustine and Jacksonville Beach, or out of Amelia Island. It's a long run, but the big fish are worth it.

Anglers also do well this time of the year fishing in the Straits of Florida between Stuart and Key West. The bigger fish typically come from the Keys, but there are some monsters caught off the mainland as well. The runs are also much shorter out of southeast Florida ports of call.

Make sure you bring a big cooler. There are few tastier fish than a mahi, and many local restaurants are happy to cook your catch. Come get in on the action.


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