Dolphin-fish (Mahi-Mahi) Fishing in Venice, LA

The “Bull Run” is a special time of year when fishing out of Venice, LA. Large schools of bull and cow mahi mahi ride the currents to the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, often following large weedlines, current rips, and floating debris. These powerful ocean-going predators are amazing to catch as they eat readily, roam in large schools, and display incredible feats of acrobatics once hooked.

Larger specimens are particularly aggressive and can pull hard for up to an hour. Fishing for mahi mahi in Venice, LA is particularly productive in the summer months as calm conditions afford the opportunity for sargassum weeds to ball up along current eddys or rips in the open ocean.

Fishing for Mahi Mahi is an exciting experience as these fish tend to hang around once one is hooked. Their schooling and “frenzy feeding” behavior makes them an entertaining fish to catch during deep sea fishing charters out of Venice, LA.


About Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-mahi is the common name for dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), not to be confused with the unrelated marine mammals (Delphinidae) that we might think of when we hear the name. Dolphin-fish are in fact fish, and bear no relation whatsoever to the mammalian dolphins.

The species is called mahi-mahi in the Hawaiin-native tongue, although the original English translation was “MahiaMahia”, the spelling was changed after the word was added to the English dictionary with the dash. Mahi-mahi are in the class of groupers, made up mostly of sea bass. They can weigh up to 70 pounds, usually ranging between 15 and 30 pounds.

They tend to be found in relatively shallow waters, from 130′ to 800′ and are extremely swift and acrobatic. They’re known for their beauty and ability to display many different colors. While in the water, they will show bright blue, yellow, green, and sometimes red. Once fished out of the water, they shine a yellowish-gold. This earned them the Spanish nickname “Dorado maverikosâ”, meaning “golden maverick”. When they die, their color fades to a dull gray.

Mahi Mahi can be found in the ocean all around the world. They are especially prominent in the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. They are an excellent sportfish due to their sheer abundance and strength. They reproduce extremely quickly and are an abundant pelagic species which is thriving across the world.

While Mahi Mahi only live to be about 5 to 7 years old, both males and females are fertile after only one year, and females can produce up to one million eggs in a single event, while it is more likely that they produce about 100,000.


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Mahi Mahi Fishing Techniques

Top Water

Casting top water lures to pelagic fish which are aggressively feeding on the surface is an unparalleled thrill in the world of sportfishing.  Predatory fish which actively feed on surface baits are ferociously powerful and often attracted to the “injured” motion a lure can present when skipping across the surface. This fishing style requires long distance casting and rapid retrieval of large lures – making use of heavy duty spinning tackle which can withstand immense pressure. Many pelagic species caught at the surface can be extremely acrobatic once hooked.  Watching a “fired up” fish charge a surface lure is an incredible experience that should not be missed. 


The traditional style of creating a “chum line” of chunk baits is commonly used around oil rigs, pumping stations, and drill ships to attract a variety of pelagic species.  This is essentially “hand lining” for deep water species, which requires the angler to pull 3 to 4 foot segments of line off the reel at a time, allowing the rigged bait to float with the current. This technique requires some practice, but is incredibly effective when fish are feeding in the top level of the water column. Once a fish strikes the bait, the angler must “lock up” the drag smoothly and swiftly, in order to allow a circle hook to set. With patience and dedication, almost any angler can master this technique.


Tried and true, trolling for pelagic species requires deploying artificial or rigged dead baits and dragging them behind the boat at varying speeds. This can be a highly effective method for enticing large pelagic predators to bite, and is usually employed during specific weather conditions, or when fishing around oil rigs or pumping stations. Occasionally, slow trolling live baits which are specially bridled can produce bites when tunas are not actively feeding.

Live Baiting

This is the preferred method for catching larger pelagic species. When fishing out of Venice, LA – mullet, pogies, threadfin herring, hardtails, and small tunas are exceptional live baits if properly rigged. There is no more effective technique to entice a large pelagic fish to feed than by presenting a frisky live bait at the surface. Catching live bait, depending on the time of year, can be a “must” before heading offshore. Live bait is typically caught by throwing a cast net, or by using a sabiki rig. You will never find yourself in a situation where having live bait isn’t a decisive advantage when targeting pelagic species.

Vertical Jigging

The most physically demanding of all fishing techniques, this requires the use of heavy lead jigs that are specifically designed to sink fast and reach fish several hundred feet down. The angler must rapidly retrieve the jig while creating a “fluttering” motion with the rod – this mimics the behavior of a bait fish fleeing to the surface.  Vertical Jigging can be the most effective method for catching fish which are holding tight to structure, deep beneath the waves.

Mahi Mahi Hot Spots

“Dorado” or DolphinFish are a highly migratory species which roam the open ocean.  They can be found offshore patrolling grass lines, floating structure, or following schools of baitfish.

When to Catch the Biggest Mahi Mahi

The best time of year to catch Mahi Mahi is the summer.  The “Bull Run” typically takes place during the Spring and Summer months. 

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