Texas Mahi Mahi fishing was, for years, our specialty. We caught over 100 mahi on so many trips that today I have no idea how many trips that would be. Our catch record of 214 mahi with 4 fishers was set in September 2011. It has been downhill from there. And, in recent years, while the average fish is much larger, boating 3 mahi in a day is now a good mahi fishing day. Other Captains in the area report the same experience, although none of them caught mahi like we did. Despite this, we still look at weed lines, pallets, logs and other floating debris and encourage our customers to help leap and eye out for anything afloat. Why we have caught 50 or more mahi under a 2 x 2 x 6 inches long.
Many anglers refer to this fish as dolphin fish or green dolphin. We began calling them
exclusively mahi fish after the 100th time of explaining to a crying 6 year old that we were not going to kill Flipper. Mahi mahi fishing is normally focused on seaweed beds floating across the Gulf. The mahi follow these weed beds for both food and security, hiding under them to conceal their shape from hungry eyes below. Trolling various baits both artificial and natural around these weed beds is a great way to locate and catch mahi. Once you locate a frenzied school, try keeping a fish on the hook and swimming around the boat, decoy fish, until another fish is hook to act as the decoy. This seems to keep the school active and close by.
The mahi mahi is a remarkably prolific fish and from February until October there always seemed to by a large percentage of the mahi catch that were carrying eggs.
Furthermore, the mahi is one of the fastest growing fish in the sea with a weight gain as high as 25 lbs in the first year. This remarkable growth rate means that a mahi can reach breeding size in only a few months and possibly explains why, for years, they were so abundant.
Beginning in about 2013, our catch of chicks (or small) mahi began a steep decline. The East Coast of the US has experienced the same problem as explained in https://sportingclassicsdaily.com/is-there-a-problem-with-dolphin-mahi-mahi/and and many are quick to find blame in the 2010 oil spill. I do not agree because we caught 1,000s of mahi during and after the spill. And, I recall that from the mid 90s until about 2002, we also had some rather dismal mahi catches. I suspect that the reduced catches are a result of shifts in the fishes
seasonal migration patterns and soon we will again boat loads of mahi. We have also noted that the mahi mahi declined seemed to follow a decline in shrimp harvest in our waters. Do the mahi rely heavily on shrimp as prey and as shrimp declined mahi declined? Perhaps. Or perhaps the mahi fry rely on the
same food source as shrimp and as this plankton or zooplankton food source declined both shrimp and mahi declined? It seems that no one knows for sure.
As of Jan 2021, Mahi fishing is unregulated in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ (Federal waters)
as well as Texas waters. There are no seasons, bag limits nor size limits. One day this wonderful fish will once again return to our waters. And, when they do, our customers will decide how many we catch and release vs catch and fillet.