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Summertime Fishing for Dorado


Peaking in late July, Dorado migrate into the warmer waters off Southern California. The waters outside of San Diego and Mission Bay gathers Dorado on almost every patty. During this special season of the year, wide open bites are not at all uncommon. It only last for a month or two, but during this time it is a treat.

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Dorado are abundant because they are a fast-growing, short-lived fish and feed very often. Dorado only live for around five or six years and attain a maximum weight of around 80lbs. The IGFA world record Mahi Mahi was caught in 1976 off the coast of Costa Rica and it weighed in at 87lbs. The average Dorado you will catch on most trips average is 15-30 lbs.

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Starting in June, we will be running trips targeting Bluefin, Yellowfin, Yellowtail, and Dorado. Because all of these game fish travel closely together, when you target one of these species, you have a chance of catching any of these species. The primary method of catching Dorado is "Patty Hopping". It is best described as manning the tuna towers with a pair of gyroscopically stabilized binoculars and staying alert for any kelp patties that you see floating around. A kelp patty is a free floating piece of kelp that broke off and floated out to sea. In the summer months finding a kelp patty often means finding the fish. 

Dorado can change the hue and luminosity of their skin. They can do this because they ave "chromatophores" in their skin. These chromatophores are connected to the fish's nervous system, which gives them the ability to change colors when they are excited and this is also the reason why their color fades when they die. For this reason alone you will never forget the first time you see one, it is truly a beautiful fish.


Dorado are one of the world’s most popular sport fishing species.   Dorado are flamboyant multi-colored, acrobatic fish, and a strong fighting game fish. They are arguably one of the best, if not THE BEST fish you can eat, and for this reason are very highly prized. 

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What tackle should I bring for Dorado?


All private charters that we offer include a large variety of PREMIUM modern well maintained tackle AT NO CHARGE. If you want to pick one from the quiver of rods we offer use these guidelines. Likewise, you are welcome to bring you own!

 

Any medium weight conventional set up should work fine.  A 20 or 30 wide open face saltwater reel sporting modern 20 pound test will get the job done. Make sure the equipment is in good working order and make positively sure that the drag is up to the job. When it doubt, bring a larger reel capable of holding more line, not thicker line! The rod should be on the lighter to medium side and should have good casting ability and accuracy, but still be able to handle a 40lb. fish.

Most Dorado are caught on live bait (anchovies and sardines). feathers, trolling lures, poppers, or even iron. They also hit cedar plugs and Rapalas. Once the fish have surfaced and a hot bite begins, they will eat any lure that hits the water. Bigger Dorado will eat bigger baits.  These fish have a small mouth and so it stands to reason, using bigger bait, will usually get you a bigger fish. 

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The person that usually hooks up first on a patty is the angler that can cast the furthest, most accurately. Ideally you want to put the anchovy right on top of the kelp patty, as close to an edge as possible. Considering free line bait is not weighted, this is often harder than it looks. Even if your throwing iron or poppers at them, you still need to get it right outside the patty, on the first few cast. After a good bite starts, it does not matter where you cast. Your ability to put one on target is the difference between catching and watching. As always, make sure your tackle, line, knot, and DRAG are in good working order. Check with one of our crew to make sure you have the right stick in hand. Check your drag position before your first cast and make sure that it gives a bit.


Often times, Dorado are caught on the troll, on much heavier equipment than is need to catch this fish. However, if you hook one off the kelp patty with a good 20lb. setup, you will enjoy a 10 round fight to the finish. Complete with generous aerobatics and your drag being properly exercised.


DORADO
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The Dorado, or "mahi-mahi" or "dolphinfish" is a surface-dwelling fish found 15-100 miles off-shore in waters outside of San Diego.

By whatever name, it is one of the most colorful fish in the ocean. Their shimmering and iridescent skin give off green and blue hues unlike any fish you have ever seen.

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Techniques for Catching Dorado


If you are going to find Dorado, all you need to do is patty hop and troll. Troll from one kelp patty to another stopping on each and casting on the money. Time and patience will usually pay off. Chum the water with live bait and then follow that with your bait. Be ready to go when the boat pulls up with bait hooked and in hand, you only get one short window to start the bite. Once the bite is going the Dorado will follow their hooked brothers right up to the boat where you can pick them off at will.

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The males (referred to as ‘Bull Dorado’ or ‘Bulls’) are easy to identify because they have a conspicuously prominent, almost flat – forehead, whereas the female’s forehead is subtly more round as it curves into their dorsal fin. Males are also typically larger than females, reaching up to approximately 80lbs. Most Dorado that have a weight over 25 pounds will be male. 


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​The trips listed below have the time and range to put you on Dorado & Tuna.


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Also keep your eye's open for birds feeding on bait balls (small bait fish that form a tight ball near the surface) because this drives Dorado, and other surrounding game fish, into a feeding frenzy. The Tuna, Yellowtail, and Dorado come up from below at amazing speeds and pick off bait from the bait ball.  Including your bait, hopefully!

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The person that usually hooks up first on a patty is the angler that can cast the furthest, most accurately. Ideally you want to put the anchovy right on top of the kelp patty, as close to an edge as possible. Considering free line bait is not weighted, this is often harder than it looks. Even if your throwing iron or poppers at them, you still need to get it right outside the patty, on the first few cast. After a good bite starts, it does not matter where you cast. Your ability to put one on target is the difference between catching and watching. As always, make sure your tackle, line, knot, and DRAG are in good working order. Check with one of our crew to make sure you have the right stick in hand. Check your drag position before your first cast and make sure that it gives a bit.

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Often times, Dorado are caught on the troll, on much heavier equipment than is need to catch this fish. However, if you hook one off the kelp patty with a good 20lb. setup, you will enjoy a 10 round fight to the finish. Complete with generous aerobatics and your drag being properly exercised.

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