Fishing Weedlines & Debris for Dolphinfish
The next time you travel 10 or 15 miles from shore, keep a sharp eye out for debris or weeds on the surface.
Not just because you may not want to run over them with your boat, but because they make for excellent
fishing opportunities. Although many different species such as skipjack, bluefin, white marlin & wahoo
may enjoy feeding on the schools of bait that congregate around such surface structure, the dolphinfish or
mahi-mahi are infamous for hanging around this type of area. Normally there are 1 or 2 males that bid for
the attention of many females in a school. The males are known as “bulls” and have the well known flat
angled head, whereas the females are much more rounded in the head.
Dolphinfish don’t spook to easily, so you can get pretty close to the debris or weeds. I have seen 10 or 20
fish stacked up under just one 2x4 floating offshore. When fishing these areas you have only 2 real choices.
Either troll some top-water feathers or bally-hoo around the structure, or cast a top-water plug or rubber
fish as close to the debris as you can. Whichever you choose, if you want to invite dolphinfish to strike, the
color to use is RED. Green works also but red is almost a guaranteed strike if the fish are there.
When casting, keep the boat in gear at an idle speed and maneuver a tight circle around the structure about
25 yards away, keeping one side of the boat always facing the direction you are casting. If you have 2
engines, just run one of them to keep your speed at a minimum. Allow the lure to hit the water and
immediately start reeling in at a medium speed. Keep your rod tip up and break the surface whenever
possible. Dolphinfish will attack the lure at the surface much more violently than under water. This will
give you much more hook ups. If you are catching females, keep casting. The fishing should continue until
the male is caught, or the male leaves the structure.
When trolling, keep the boat about 40 yards from the structure sweeping the surface with your spread as
close to the debris as you can. When trolling weedlines, keep a sharp eye out for clumps of weeds that will
inevitably foul your lures. Reel them in one at a time without stopping the boat to free them up. You will
have to turn the boat very hard for each pass so be sure not to cross your lines. The best way to prevent this
is to alternate the spread like so, 4 lines out – starboard 20 feet behind – port 30 feet behind – starboard 40
feet behind – port 50 feet behind. Use your outriggers on the 2 furthest lines out, use pole holders for the 2