Deciding how to target mahi is a personal choice, whether you’re a troller or the run-and-gunner. I don’t have outriggers on my boat, by choice, so you can guess my choice. I’m not against trolling a full spread and, at times, it’s definitely the way to go.
I always have a time clock ticking away in my head as a charter captain, so I’m shopping for action. Running the boat to the action only seems reasonable with that clock ticking away in my head. However, reading what is actually action only, comes with time and experience offshore.
At times, the obvious, such as a half dozen frigate birds, or 4 to 5 sooty terns going nuts, can make you look like a wizard. But, more often than not, it’s not that easy. Noticing the small subtleties, like a bird turning back over an area for a second look or a couple flying fish coming up on the edge of slick, could be a gold mine.
Upon seeing something subtle like that, I’ll approach the area in one or two ways. My favorite, to find out if it’s actually what I’m looking for, is to completely stop the boat and sling a big top water chugger into the area; let that lure do its job making a lot of noise and commotion. Most times, if the mahi are there, they won’t hit the plug, but they will follow it and show themselves. At that point, however you want to go about catching them--whether bucktail jigs, chunks of squid, or live baits--it’s time to get busy.
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