The first step when trying to find your target species is to figure out what clues to look for. The top 3 clues to look for when targeting a dolphin are;
• Floating debris/weed lines
• Color change
Finding flocks of hovering birds should be a mahi fisherman’s first priority. A good pair of binoculars is a must when searching the horizon for birds that prey on bait fish. The reason a fisherman should seek out birds is because both dolphins and sea birds are seeking out the same prey items. It’s a pretty safe bet that if there are prey items for the birds then the predatory fish like dolphins will be near as well.
A bird has a distinct advantage over fishermen because they can get to a much higher elevation than a fisherman on a boat. A very high tuna tower might top out at thirty feet or so. A frigate bird may hover one hundred feet or more above the water when in search of prey. This makes it much easier for them to find bait fish than you could.
The types of birds that you can see will also tell you how deep the bait is. The frigate birds cannot get their wings wet so if they are dipping their bills in the water then the bait is near the surface. On the other hand if the birds present are gannets then the bait may be much deeper. A gannet can dive down fifty feet or so in search of prey. The species of birds present can tell a fisherman how deep to deploy his baits.
The second clue to find a mahi is floating debris and weed lines. The flotsam of the oceans can be a beacon that attracts many marine creatures such as small shrimp, crabs and small fish seeking refuge from the vast open ocean. A large piece of trash or a large mat of sea weed is like a mini ecosystem with predators and prey fighting for survival. Dolphins seek out these floating oases because they know that their prey will be hiding there. This is an excellent place for a fisherman to seek out his delicious quarry as well.
The third clue that dolphin fishermen should look for is the color change in the water. The color change quite often shows a depth change in the water. Sometimes it shows a current boundary and varying water temperatures. Predators like a dolphin will often be found near these ocean boundaries. If you are a dolphin fisherman this means you should be there too.