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Now browsing: Hometown News > Columnist Archives > Fishing - Peter Krause

The waters are warming in Brevard, and the second wave of tropical sportfish, mahi mahi, have made their appearance in force.
Rating: 2.85 / 5 (182 votes)  
Posted: 2006 Apr 28 - 03:10

Latin America calls the fish "dorado" after its golden color, but the original English name has been dolphin for several centuries. This has caused confusion in recent decades, though it's hard to believe there are many people around who would think a restaurant would actually serve the mammal called dolphin.

Rather than put a disclaimer on every menu the restaurant and food sales industries have adopted the Hawaiian name for the fish: "mahi mahi".

Like many Asian languages, the Hawaiian language doubles a word for emphasis, so the fish's name translates to "very strong". However, American English rarely uses eight letters when four will do, and the American version is often shortened to just plain "mahi."

As sportfish, large mahi are quite strong indeed. They are among the fastest fish in the ocean, with burst speeds outpacing most boats. When hooked, mahi make long runs and launch into head-shaking jumps clear out of the water.

They not only swim fast; they may be the fastest growing fish in the ocean. From tiny hatchlings onward, they will eat almost anything and will grow until the end of their lifespan about four years later.

For some fish, this may be between five and six feet long and more than 90 pounds. From egg to sexual maturity may take four months, so mahi are potentially the most renewable fish stock in the world.

Fishing regulations reflect this - mahi must be at least 20 inches to the fork, but the limit is 10 fish per angler, or 60 per boat. Since special permits are needed to sell mahi, most recreational anglers keep far less than this.

Mahi are highly pelagic, meaning they are rarely within sight of land. Most anglers don't start looking until at least 20 fathoms, which starts about 15 nautical miles off Brevard beaches.

Most mahi anglers look for floating debris to hold fish. Mahi have been found underneath weed lines or chunks of wood. Frigate birds tend to follow feeding mahi, and flocks of these birds may also be a good indicator.

Trolling with fish or fish-like lures is usually the main fishing method, though it's possible to sight-cast to fish holding under debris.

Due to their appetites, mahi will eat anything from baitfish to squid. They can be fickle, though, and will sometimes turn down many offerings only to pounce on a particular lure's color or shape.


Other than mahi, cobia catches are still hot near shore. Red snapper are biting on bottom wrecks and ledges as well, though warmer waters also bring sharks to the same locations.


Whiting and pompano are the surf standards this time of year. The piers and jetties are adding jacks and sheepshead to the mix. The beaches near Sebastian Inlet are providing some snook catches, with night fishing being best.


Warming lagoon waters are allowing hopeful anglers to try for Grand Slams - catching one (or more) trout, redfish and snook in a single day. Trout and redfish are best caught on flats, while snook are being seen in mangrove areas around creeks and canals.


Bass are biting in Brevard lakes, though local boaters are still wary about low water levels. Bass lengths aren't huge yet, but anglers are reporting fatter fish. Soft plastics near vegetation are the best producers.

Peter Krause has fished all over the Florida since his childhood, when he pulled bream out of the Everglades canals.. Peter can be contacted atonhook@uringme.com. Pictures of great catches can also be sent to him at that address.

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