Posts

Flounder Fishing: Tips for Finding and Catching Flounder

The flounder’s odd habit of laying sideways on the bottom of the ocean floor disguised as the rest of the sand, rocks, and flotsam is surprisingly misleading.

This fish is not lazy, but highly ingenious. It takes no prisoners as it snatches up any innocent little fish or shrimp… which is what makes Flounder fishing so much fun!

Flounder Fishing: Where to Find and Catch Flounder

You can find these masters of disguise in the coastal waters of the Atlantic from Maine all the way down to Texas and over in the Pacific, as well.

They can be spotted from shallow reefs to the deepest trenches.

These doormats are flat, with both eyes on the same side of their head. That lets them watch above for prey as they lie flat on the ocean floor. They especially like to hang out on the bottom of river coastal areas. They like to stay near drop-offs where they can ambush their prey. Look for them under ledges or other structures in areas where the depth changes.

Flounder Fishing(1)

If you’re fishing over crystal clear water and sandy bottoms, you’ll be able to see flounder tracks in the sand below. As they move to ambush their prey, they leave tracks because of the speed at which they take off. They also like to move to more productive ledges as the tide is shifting so they can ambush the bait fish as they move overhead.

You can also find flounder tracks by wading in the shallow mud and sand flats at low tide. There’ll usually be the most tracks in the bays which hold the most bait when the tide drops. As the tide recedes, flounder laying buried in the bottom pull out, leaving their body imprints. Find those tracks during low tide, and you’ll know right where to look once the tide comes back in.

When it’s running too fast, it can become turbid. Flounder feed more by sight than smell, and they can see better when the water is clear.

You’ll have more luck when they can see your bait, so concentrate on areas where the bottom isn’t super silted.

You can fish for them year round, but your catches will typically be smaller in the winter or spring and may not be large enough to keep. They’re easiest to catch in the fall when they’re moving farther out into the ocean.

Tackle for Flounder Fishing

flounder fishing (1)

Medium action, bass-size tackle works great when flounder fishing. Most people prefer spinning tackle, but if you can learn to use a baitcasting reel, you’ll be doing yourself a favor, since you can maximize your precision with just a touch of your thumb so you can hit the points and ledges spot-on.

It’s helpful to use a dropper rig with a rounded weight and a hook tied to the leader above it to avoid break-offs around structure.

A wide variety of lures and set-ups can be used, but many experts agree the soft plastics of Berkley Gulp! is one of the best when used with spinnerbaits. They’ll take most lures, but really home in on live bait. They’ll rarely pass up live croakers, finger mullet, pinfish or menhaden. They’ll take shrimp sometimes, but not as well. Hook larger baits for bigger flounder through the lips, and smaller baits through the eyes.

Landing a Flounder

Flounder Fishing(3)

Bounce your lure or jig head along the bottom to catch their attention. Strikes will usually occur as the lure falls.

Flounder don’t always take bait or lures right away, but they’ll follow it during the retrieve. They’ll settle on the bottom right underneath your boat, so don’t forget to periodically work a jig directly underneath.

Flounder typically travel in groups, so usually once you catch one, you’ll find more. Stay put, making a note of how far into a rising or lowering tide you were.

Flippin’ is a technique that most bass anglers are used to, but you can use it to target flounder in hard-to-reach spots inshore, too. The technique is the same. Ray Thomas, a dedicated flounder fisherman explains:

“I prefer a seven-foot spinning outfit for this work, and use it almost like a fly rod at close range. I pull through the rod guides with my left hand as I’m raising the lure and line from the water with the rod. I’ll flip the lure out, then jig it around the boat, because I anchor near good flounder structure such as pilings, bulkheads, and jetties. These places are full of barnacles, and it’s easy to get cut off. But if you keep your casts short by flippin’ you can work these hot spots quickly without getting hung up.”

Most states have pretty strict guidelines on the number and size of the fish you can keep, so make sure to check with your local fish and game office before heading out, but there’s definitely fun to be had all year long, in a variety of different locations and depths!

Mahi Mahi Fishing: How to Find and Catch the Dolphinfish

One of the more unique fish swimming around the oceans depths is the dolphinfish. With the bulbous forehead reminiscent of a dolphin or porpoise, it’s no surprise the name fits. Mahi Mahi Fishing can be one of the most exciting ways to spend a day on the water!

What’s not to like about them? Also known as Dorado or Mahi-mahi, these almost-cartoony characters are some of the world’s most popular gamefish.

Introducing the Dolphinfish

Mahi Mahi Fishing(1)

The Dolphinfish, or Coryphaena hippurus, are decent-sized fish that are brilliantly-colored and fun to catch, as they fight hard and love to put on some aerial acrobatics when hooked. They also taste absolutely delicious – especially blackened.

Sadly enough, pictures just don’t do them justice, as they fade almost immediately once brought up. By the time you make it into the dock, they’re almost certainly already a dull gray color. In the water, they have the ability to change the intensity of their colors depending on their mood and are considered to be one of the most strikingly-colored fish in the ocean with bright hues ranging from yellows, greens, to blues. Their underbellies are generally lighter in color, while their backs vary from darker green to hues of deep blue. They may be splattered with dots of blue and green, and have been spotted in bright turquoise and even purple.

The males are called bulls, and the females cows, with the, well, bullhead of the males being more enlarged and pronounced. Their lifespan is only a matter of five or six years, so what they lack in longevity, they make up for with vim and vigor. They can grow to three to five pounds within the first six months of their life. Within a year, they can reach three feet and weigh in at 20 pounds.

They can grow to over 80 pounds, in part because they always seem to be hungry and eat aggressively right from birth.

Good breeders, they reproduce often to maintain their numbers, and mating can begin when the fish are as small as eight inches. Small fish will school together around floating debris or sargassum beds, but larger fish are loners, and are sometimes found swimming in male-female pairs.

Dorado are strong and fast swimmers, covering wide ranges in search for food. They can reach speeds of 50 mph in short bursts.

Where to Look When Mahi Mahi Fishing

Mahi Mahi Fishing (1)

These guys roam the open tropic and temperate ocean waters all over the planet. Seas that range from high 60’s to mid 80’s are preferred. You can find them anywhere you find Marlin and Wahoo. Since small baitfish gather in large weed patches and flotsam, Dolphinfish are often closeby. The smaller ones will school under the weed beds and ambush the bait, but the larger fish will usually stay on the outskirts of the beds, since they can quickly strike from a distance with a great burst of speed.

Mahi Mahi Fishing… A Pound for Pound Fight

The name Mahi-mahi comes from Hawaii, meaning “strong-strong.” They employ a variety of fighting techniques. Short, blistering runs can end with a deep dive, then the fish stubbornly turning on its side and refusing to come up. They’ve been known to scream a reel in one direction, only to turn around and make a beeline in the complete opposite direction.

They can dazzle you with aerial displays and tailwalking.

They’ll even jump right on into the boat with you in some scenarios. But the fun doesn’t stop once they get in the boat. Their powerful, thrashing tails can really play havoc in the boat.

Mahi Mahi Fishing: Tackle & Rigging

You’ll want to grab a rod and reel combination well-suited for 30 pound fused line. Your rod should be around 7’ long with a rapid to extra-fast action with the ability to handle lure weights up to one ounce.

Fix the line with a three-foot length of 30 to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 50 pound barrel swivel. Tie a 4/0 -7/0 circle hook to the leader, about three to four feet of 30 to 60 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, and attach your primary line.

Most of the larger sized Dolphinfish are caught on trolling lures meant for Marlin or Sailfish like rubber skirts, or the feathers meant for Tuna. Many are also caught on trolled ballyhoo. They’ll also fall for Rapalas too. When they’re fired up, they’ll eat just about anything, though you have to watch yourself with heavier lures.

Mahi Mahi Fishing(3)

These fish jump wildly when hooked, and there’s a good chance the lure could come flying back at you at high speed.

Though their mouths are relatively small, it’s amazing how much they can actually engulf, including large baits. They mostly eat fish, so traditional baitfish like sardines and Pacific Mackerel work well. The larger the fish, the larger the bait they’ll grab. Cut bait like shrimp and ballyhoo works well, too, but cut false albacore will drive them wild.

Here are a few other rigging ideas that work well with Dorado.

A Few Extra Mahi Mahi Fishing Tips

Throw some bait chunks into the water to get the fish into a frenzy, then bait your hook with the same bait, and drift it back with the chunks. You can also use some spinning rods rigged with bucktails or a top water plug.

Once you’ve landed one, keep the hooked fish in the water until you hook another. Similar to their feeding behavior, they’ll become frenzied with another fish nearby lit up.

One trip out, and you’ll get why these are some of the most highly sought after fish. Not only do they offer a good fight, but make for a delicious dinner at the end of the day.

How to Catch Wahoo – Offshore Fishing Tactics

If you’re like us, you’re game to throw a line after just about anything that swims. If you’re in a for a throwdown challenge, get yourself on the slate against the wahoo.

While “Wahooooo!!” may be the sound that comes out of your mouth when landing one of these beauties, Wahoo truly is the popular name for Acanthocybium Solandri. These awesome fish go by other handles too: Ono in Hawaii, Springer in Brazil, Queenfish in the Caribbean, and Peto in the Bahamas.

 

What Is a Wahoo?

While often mistaken for a King Mackerel, they’re a fish of a different color completely. Well, maybe they’re similar in color, but that’s about it. They have numerous dark vertical bands that extend to below the lateral line. Boasting a long nose about half the length of its entire head and vertical caudal fins, this fish grows upwards of 100 pounds.

They carry a very mild flavor, even after extended freezing, in their snow white meat, which lacks heavy blood lines.

You can find them in waters from Virginia to South America, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, and other areas around the world. They tend to especially love the blue water zones of the Gulf of Mexico.

None of that is necessarily what makes this mackerel special. Anglers agree that they are the biggest, meanest, and fastest mackerel in American waters, reaching speeds of up to 60 mph. Their extremely sharp canine teeth can often make landing them way more difficult than finding them. They are an extremely streamlined predator with razor sharp teeth that cut up their prey in a scissor-like fashion. They’ve got a lot of fight.

how to catch wahoo (1)

They are also fantastic jumpers. They will leap high in the air while chasing bait fish. That said, be on the lookout as you’re pulling your empty lure up.

They’ve been known to launch a last minute attack as it comes out of the water, and have been known to go sailing right into the face of a fisherman with their sharp teeth.

How to Find Wahoo

According to Captain Sean Bloomfield, the premier wahoo fisheries exist in San Salvador and Cat Island, Bahamas, the northern Gulf of Mexico, and Northeast Florida. Hit these places up through the wintertime, and you’re bound to get into some of these giant beasts.

Wahoo are primarily structure-oriented fish that like more aggressive bottom formations, pronounced ledges, wrecks, rips, and color changes. You could also find them stacked up underneath floating debris and weed lines, sometimes in waters deeper than 1,000 feet. They typically bite below the surface and can be located along drop-offs at around 120 to 350 feet of water. You’ll find them along a ledge with current coming over it, which pushes water up and compresses bait in the water column. They’ll sit on one side and feed.

The most active time to catch these monsters is right before daybreak, their prime feeding period.

They’ll usually start the reels a-screaming as soon as the sun appears on the horizon. Their major feeding takes place just prior to sunrise to early post-dawn. “Wahoo go wild during this time,” remarks Captain Charles Ebanks. “The bite might last only 30 to 45 minutes, but it’s aggressive as hell.” That makes running almost 100 miles off shore in the dark well worth it!

Don’t discount the moon or tides, either. Fishing on a full moon works pretty well, but the best times to get into these fish are the few days before and after one. Fishing prior to and into a tide change can really find them biting. Under stable weather, lack of action during an early-morning falling tide usually means a good bite during the afternoon incoming tide, and vice versa.

how to catch wahoo(2)

In addition, pay attention to your barometer. As the pressure starts dropping, such as before a cold front of a storm, it can trigger a bite. They tend to shut down once the pressure shoots up, like when after the front arrives.

How to Catch Wahoo Trolling

Trolling at around 14 knots is where most find they tend to have success, and Ballyhood Lures actually advises you can catch bigger wahoo with faster speed. They recommend hi-speed trolling of between 14 and 20 knots. Captain Ron Schatman, winner of a dozen major Bahamas wahoo tournaments over five years agrees.

“In 1995, I went from pulling baits at 14 knots to pulling lures at 18 knots,” he shared with Sport Fishing. “From there, it all fell into place.”

You’ll do well to stagger your trolling baits at different depths and distances. They tend to cruise below the surface, attacking fish from below, so you’ll want to set out lines 20 to 35 feet below the surface. They like to chop their prey in half, eat one end, then circle back and eat the other. They’ll often bite a ballyhoo off just behind the hook. If you’re able to act fast and give it a drop-back, they’ll often turn around looking for more. When you see your rod tip take a sudden dip, then spring back up, let the reel go into freespool, allowing the bait to sink for a few seconds. Then jig the line once or twice. “Beyond question, the best part of wahoo fishing is hearing that reel scream,” claims Ryan Grotta, owner of G-Fly Lures in Boca Raton, Florida.

These guys really have tough mouths, so you won’t want to slow boat speed down once one strikes. The captain can help the angler keep things tight by bumping the boat in and out of gear, which also helps plane the fish to the surface. Once his head breaks water, step up your cranking to keep him on top which will help to tire him out quickly. Wind it steadily into gaff range until the gaffer is able to lift it over the gunwales and into the fish box.

how to catch wahoo (3)

How to Catch Wahoo – Gear

Standard offshore trolling tackle works well for these guys, using 100 pound braided line or 400-pound cable. If you’re casting for them, medium conventional tackle with 80 pound braid will do the trick. You can use three ounce egg sinkers for extra weight with a 50-ounce trolling sinker rigged to your line to keep the lure running at the right depth. The single most important thing to take away is that you must use a wire leader! Those razor sharp teeth will cut straight through anything else. It’s also important to use cable around the sinker, since they’ll sometimes hit the sinker.

Wahoo tend to like specific color patterns, namely red/black and purple/black, though that isn’t always the case. Some anglers have good luck using a variety of color schemes, depending on the mood of the fish. Rig large ballyhoo behind colorful rubber skirts, and they’ll go on the attack, though that could get expensive pretty quickly. Try Rapalas or any other swimming plugs that can be trolled rapidly like Braid Maurader or the Yo-Zuri Bonita.

Having a two speed reel that you can crank to high gear once the fish is brought to the surface is ideal.

While they don’t travel in schools, per se, they do tend to hang out in the same areas, so once you’ve caught one wahoo, continue working the same area until you’ve covered it before moving on.

And watch your fingers and ankles!