Dorado. Mahi Mahi. Dolphin. The name may change per your locale but the allure of arguably (and a personal favorite) the ultimate gamefish remains the same. Stunning coloration. Insane acrobatics. Hard pulling. Good eating. The pursuit of dorado definitely pegs the fun meter to max.
One of the best parts of dorado fishing is that when you find the “right” school, they are eager to bite a wide variety of presentations and baits. Live bait, dead or chunk baits, casting artifical lures, topwaters, trolling jigs, you name it – they will smash it when in the biting mood. But like any other species or fishery, there is a core program that produces the best results. For Southern California, that would live baits, trolling skirts or feathers, and casting artificial lures.
Live Bait: Fishing Sardines & “Mini-Macks”
Live bait fishing, the Southern California sportfishing staple and for good reason. With an abundance of baitfish swimming in our local waters and a ready 24/7, 365 supply always on tap, live bait catches more of our pelagic gamefish than any other tactic. Tossing a fiery live bait at a kelp paddy loaded with mahi is as close to a sure thing as one can get fishing offshore. But there are a few tricks and considerations to take well before this part.
- Hook selection: I’m a huge fan of circle hooks for damn near every type of fishing locally. Rockcodding to offshore tuna fishing, the Gamakatsu Nautilus Circle is my go-to. HOWEVER, dorado fishing is the exception – traditional J-Hooks, Gamakatsu Live Bait size 1/0-3/0 are the hot ticket for these erratic swimmers.
- “Mini-Macks”: or as I affectionally call them – “dorado crack”. Taking the extra time to make mackerel before heading offshore is 100% worth it when pursuing do-dos. These ferocious and hyper aggressive biters love 6-8″ sized mackerel. There’s been days where even the best looking and swimming sardine won’t get picked up but a quick pitch of a nose hooked mini-mack didn’t last more than seconds.
Trolling Feathers & Skirts
Now I’ll be the first to admit that trolling isn’t necessarily my favorite way to fish but sometimes it’s hard to argue the results. Trolling feather or skirts jigs can be an extremely effective way to both locate schools of fish as well as even entice a bite from a reluctant dorado. Some of my favorites are your standard green or black & purple feathers + jet-head style skirt jig + believe or not, marlin skirts. Specifically a tried and true pink skirt marlin jig.
Here’s a rundown of rigging up some feathers for dorado: