The Ultimate Guide to Fishing for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast in Australia is a stop over for many species of pelagic migratory fish, with Mahi Mahi fast becoming one of the most popular. It is a sought-after fish by both novice and experienced anglers. The Mahi Mahi, also called Dolphin fish or Dorado, can be found in deep blue waters and offers an exciting and explosive fight, as well as a tasty meal. Fishing for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast is an experience you don’t want to miss, and this guide will offer insight into everything you need to know to make the most of your fishing trip.

Mahi Mahi Season

On the Gold Coast, the true Mahi Mahi season starts around mid-late Spring and runs through to the end of Autumn. In recent years, with the addition of 12 QLD Fisheries FADs, Fish Aggregating Devices, you can now catch these amazing fish in most months throughout the year. The best time to catch Mahi Mahi is between November and February when the water is warmer (22 deg C+), which is when the Mahi Mahi are most active and the average size of the fish are larger than that of the cooler months. Keep an eye on the water temperature, and the weather forecast, so you can choose the best time to go out to sea, or contact us at BK’s Gold Coast Fishing Charters to book your spot.

All the gear and some idea!

To fish for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast with bait, you really don’t need to use fancy gear. A basic light to medium action spin rod, with an evenly matched spinning reel spooled with 20-30lb line will get the job done. If you’ve already got something you use for snapper or mackerel, that will be more than suitable to get you started on Mahi. It is recommended to use at least a metre of 30-60lb leader, but sometimes you’ll want/need to go heavier if you find yourself amongst a school of XL size dollies!

Fishing for Mahi Mahi with lures

When it comes to fishing for Mahi Mahi with lures, you’ll need a specialised lure casting setup with a high speed reel, complete with braided main line and a good length of monofilament leader. Your best bet is to visit your local tackle store (Doug Burt’s Tackle World, Gold Coast Fishing Tackle & The Bait Shop can help you on the GC). The options are endless and really depend on which FADs you intend to fish, as well as your budget. We’ve seen people catch Mahi Mahi on outfits from inshore flathead gear right up to big heavy popper setups. Be sure to learn some braid to mono joining knots, too. The double uni will get you out of trouble, but the preferred join for ultra smooth casting is the FG knot.

Lure Types

Your choice of lures largely depends on the conditions on your fishing day. However, some popular lures that have proven to be effective include poppers, stickbaits, and soft plastics in bright colours such as pink, yellow or green. If you prefer trolling, rigged skirted lures are a great choice. Be sure to have varied sized skirts in your spread until you work out which size matches the hatch for that particular day.

Poppers can create a lot of splashing action which mimics the behavior of a distressed small fish, drawing the Mahi Mahi out, but they can also be a bit over the top for the smaller fish and can shut the school down. Stickbaits allow for more versatility in retrieval methods, and their life-like swimming action can trigger aggressive strikes without causing too much commotion and often don’t spook the school. Soft plastics give you the option to fish at varying depths and can be particularly effective when Mahi Mahi are shy or finicky, just choose your jighead weight accordingly to suit the depth you’re trying to retrieve from, then wind like hell!

As with any style of fishing, remember that the key is to keep experimenting with different lures and techniques until you find what works best under the prevailing conditions, that might change multiple times a session, or you might find something that works every time! It’s also worth noting that Mahi Mahi are known to be very aggressive, so once you have hooked one, the splashing and commotion often attract other Mahi Mahi, providing an opportunity for double, triple and quadruple hookups (if you’ve got that many fishing mates).


Where to go to catch Mahi Mahi

Another critical factor when fishing for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast is finding the right location.
We previously mentioned the FADs. Fish aggregating devices are human-made structures consisting of a yellow surface float which is anchored offshore to attract fish, one of the most common being Mahi Mahi. Fisheries QLD installed 12 FADs off the Gold Coast, 1 surface FAD on 26 fathoms (50m depth), 8 surface FADs on 36 and 50 fathoms (65-85m depth), and 3 sub surface FADs off the continental shelf (250-320m depth). You can find the locations and information on the FADs here.

A good area to start out

If you’re just starting out on Mahi Mahi, it’s best to start at the 36 fathoms FADs. These are closer to shore than the others, and there are more FADs closer together here which can increase your chances of finding a FAD that’s got hungry fish on it (they’re not always hungry!). Once again, be sure to check the weather forecast, and if in doubt, don’t go out!

The best bait for Mahi Mahi

Mahi Mahi can go from schooling to feeding in the blink of an eye. Some days they will eat anything you offer, other days you’ll sift through baits one by one until you find what they want, other days they just sit at the back of the boating staring at you with lockjaw. The most commonly used bait for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast is live bait, such as slimy mackerel and yellowtail scad. You can also use dead bait, such as pilchards which can be used whole or cut into mouth size pieces. Mahi Mahi can almost be selectively targeted for size, so if you want to try for bigger ones – use bigger baits that the small ones might have trouble eating. If you want numbers, use smaller baits.


How to Fish for Mahi Mahi

Upon arrival at the FAD, it is VERY important not to drive too close to the device. The fish are schooling around the float and chain for protection in a big, wide, deep ocean, as well as awaiting prey to come by. If you drive your boat too close, you’ll scare the school deeper down the chain, or off the FAD entirely, as well as earning a few dirty looks from nearby fishos.
Slow your boat down at least 100m away and assess the current. Mahi Mahi are pelagic, oceanic fish that thrive in currents, so you’ll almost always have to make a plan to suit the current. No run, no fun!

There’s 2 ways you can pull up and fish at a FAD

1) Drifting.
Line up a drift from up current, to down current, starting approximately 50m away. Keeping a close eye on the FAD, adjust your boat when needed so you don’t drift too close, and start casting. Seed the FAD with some burley to bring the Mahi Mahi out, and send your baits down the burley trail (or work your lures back through it).
2) You can use your main engine or electric engine to hold your boat up current of the FAD (not too close!) and sink baits back to it with the flow.
Be sure to keep an eye on other boats in the area, and try to work in with what they’re doing. Thankfully, Mahi normally school in large numbers and there’s often plenty to go around.

Be Careful!

When you finally catch a Mahi Mahi, be sure to have the net handy. They’re an extremely acrobatic fish, which you’ll soon find out! Once in the net, bring the fish into the boat as soon as you can so it doesn’t jump out of the net and get away from you. Be very careful handling Mahi Mahi, to protect yourself from hook injury, protect the flesh from damage if you’re eating it, and/or to ensure successful release if you’re letting it go. We recommend having a large towel handy to assist holding the fish, and quickly using a brain spike to ikijime the fish. Once you dispatch a few, you’ll find your own method. Just be careful while you work it out!

Prefer to learn with us?

Our crew are experienced fishos who will show you all you need to know, as well as handle your fish for you, so if that all sounds too much for you in your own boat, please contact us and enquire about fishing for Mahi Mahi on a mixed group or private charter, or gift your loved ones an experience they’ll love with an e-Gift Card.


Fishing for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast is an unforgettable experience for families, friends, locals and holidaymakers. With the right timing, gear, location, and bait/lures, you can increase your chances of catching this sought-after fish. Remember to handle Mahi Mahi with care when you catch them and always follow the rules and regulations around fishing. Whether it’s for sport or for the table, fishing for Mahi Mahi is a fantastic way to spend a day on the water. So, check the weather, pack your boat, grab your gear, and head out to the Gold Coast for an amazing fishing adventure, or join us on BK’s Gold Coast Fishing Charters for your chance to target one of these impressive fish.


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The Ultimate Guide to Fishing for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast

The Mahi Mahi, also called Dolphin fish or Dorado, can be found in deep blue waters and offers an exciting and explosive fight, as well as a tasty meal. Fishing for Mahi Mahi on the Gold Coast is an experience you don’t want to miss, and this guide will offer insight into everything you need to know to make the most of your fishing trip.

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