Published On: August 25th, 2023Last Updated: August 25th, 20235.2 min read
2023 Florida Keys Dolphinfish Report
If you follow our fishing reports and updates, you may have noticed we haven’t been writing about Dolphinfish nearly as much as in previous seasons. There is a good reason for this; there simply hasn’t been much to write about. Fortunately, that is starting to change!
Here in the Florida Keys, Dolphinfish, a.k.a. Mahi, are the most requested fish to catch. That suits us just fine in the late spring through summer when Dolphinfish abound. However, this year, the Dolphinfish have been on a different schedule.
Better late than never! The Dolphin season is finally starting to heat up.
Our lives are much easier when the Mahi follow the May through September script. Often, once we hook a keeper-sized Dolphinfish, an entire school of keepers swim up to the boat, ready to eat whatever bait we toss at them! Conversely, when the Mahi aren’t cooperating, our crews must work harder and be more creative to assemble a good catch.
While we strive to deliver the species of fish our customers request, we also remind them that our boats can only catch fish that are there. This year, we have encountered a lot of small Dolphinfish. While our crews have been able to find schools of Mahi, the majority of what they have found are not legal size and have to be thrown back.
When our vessels encounter one school of undersized Mahi after another, our crews give the customers options. Some customers choose to continue picking through the schools of Mahi in search of keepers. Others go to the hump to catch Blackfin Tuna instead. If the current suits it, our crews can offer deep-dropping with electric reels for excellent eating fish. Another option is to head inshore to fish on the reef or drop baits on sunken wrecks.
David Haas and his rowdy buddies after their annual Mahi trip this month.
So why have the Dolphinfish been smaller this year? While our Captains aren’t scientists, we asked a few of them what they think is happening. Some attribute it to the unusually calm weather, lack of wind, and resulting warmer ocean temperatures. This summer has been hot, with many states exceeding the 100-degree mark daily. When the water temperatures are too warm, the Mahi seem to stay down deeper, presumably searching for cooler waters. This scenario makes the fish less visible to birds and our crew members, leading to fewer encounters. In our experience, the warmer water temperatures also make Mahi significantly less interested in the lures or baits offered.
Fortunately, that is all starting to change! With some wind and rain recently, water temperatures have cooled off. Now, we are seeing a significant increase in the size of Dolphinfish our vessels interact with. Our crews have been catching gaffers, heavy lifters, and even slammers! (How we size Mahi)
Ed Pughe and his friends fished abroad the former Main attraction II now the Ben O’Fishal affiliate vessel ran by Captain Ben Zdan.
A repeat client, Bob Greer, contacted us a couple of weeks ago about booking his family a charter. The Greer family has made memorable moments aboard our vessels, and Mr. Greer was looking to make more. On Thursday, August 17th, 2023 Captain Marty took them offshore on the Main Attraction for a full day. The Greer family caught their limit of gaffer Dolphin, along with the biggest of the day that was humorously dubbed a “2023 slammer”. It was a great day, and we hope the Mahi bite continues for a few more months.
The Greer Family with their Mahi catch last week.
Back in December 2018, Bob had booked a full-day Sailfish trip. Our crew tried all day to get Bob the fish of a lifetime, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a Sailfish day. Bob appreciated how hard the Captain and Mate tried to get him that Sailfish and her knew it wasn’t their fault.
A few days later, the weather changed, and the Sailfish started tailing. Captain Marty Lewis caught eight Sailfish on a 4-hour half-day trip that morning. If you know Captain Marty then you know he wasn’t going to stay at the dock with that kind of action out there.
Marty called his wife Katie to see if she would like to head out with him to get back on the Sailfish. Katie thought of the Greer family and wondered if they were still in town. She told Marty she would love for them to get their Sailfish. Katie thought of the Greers because she speaks to every client who books with us. She listens to their story, who they bring, and what they want to catch.
Without hesitation, Marty agreed, and Katie immediately called Bob. Bob was tickled that a charter company would go out of their way to try again to get him his fish. Katie explained it was a good day for Sailfish and if he just covered fuel expenses, they would be happy to help achieve his fish dreams. Bob spoke to his family and called Katie back, and they were at the marina within an hour.
At 6pm, Katie received a photo of Bob and his family, crossing Sailfish off their bucket list. This brought a smile to Katie’s face. Shortly after, they caught a stud slammer Dolphin! Ever since that trip, whenever the Greer family are in town, they book with the Main Attraction crew.
The Greer Family catching a Slammer Mahi on December 19th, 2018.
At the Main Attraction we take great pride in the fact that we listen to what the customer’s goals and needs are. Katie will always answer your questions honestly and set realistic expectations to ensure you have a wonderful trip. If you are heading to the Florida Keys and looking to make some memories of your own, call us at (305) 289-0071 or visit our contact page to book your next fishing adventure with us.
The Dean family recently caught a few keepers to keep them well fed on their trip.