Every year schools of Dolphinfish, a.k.a Mahi Mahi, head north up the eastern seaboard riding the northerly flowing Gulf Stream. Here along the Crystal Coast area of North Carolina we start to see gaffer sized fish in spring starting largely in late April peaking in May and tapering off in June. As the summer procedes the fishery is largely dominated by smaller bailer/slinger dolphin that can be easily lifted into the boat, but don’t rule out gaffer sized fish crashing the party for the entirety of the summer. As a general rule the best dolphin fishing is going to be in 20 plus fathoms of water (6ft to a fathom) on out past the break 30+ fathoms (the start of the continental shelf) depending upon ocean currents, water temperature breaks, and presence of bait. In general this time of the year this equates to 30 plus mile runs off the beach. On the way to the fishing grounds pay constant attention to the conditions as it can be very easy to overrun productive water in years where the hot gulf stream waters are pushed closer to the beach and the potential to find fish under 20 miles exists.
Trolling rigged ballyhoo behind dressed seawitch, conical, and chugger heads produce consistent action as well as pulling a spread of small trolling plugs or a combination of both. These exact tactics worked on a recent late April trip with the Austin, Danny, and Lauren signaling that Mahi time is upon us here in the Atlantic Beach/Morehead City area. The fish definitely had a preference for blue and white sea witches that day and most strikes came on the long riggers. So we dropped the rest of the spread back and started picking fish off the short riggers as well. The beauty of the Mahi run, they are share the same waters blackfin and yellowfin tuna, wahoo. Everyday is different, start with multiple colors, lure types, position in spread and let the fish tell you what they want. As far as gear goes, nothing larger than a 30 sized reel is required for tackling mahi, in fact I prefer to use the small L and H series Raptor Reels by Avet, they hold lots of 40 and 60lb hollowcore with mono top shot with high drags and reduced weight increasing the catching fun.
I offer offshore trips aboard my 2021 Contender 30T running out of Atlantic Beach. You can check my rates and book a trip easily online at my secure booking site and don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-732-0990. Tight lines, Captain Justin Ragsdale at breakdaycharters.com