The month of April is the time we start making the ride 25 to 35 miles offshore in high hopes that the most well-known of all the saltwater sport fish, MAHI MAHI, DOLPHIN FISH, DORADO and many other names depending on the size and sex. BULL, COW, PEANUT, SCHOOLIE, BAILER, GAFFER, SLAMMER, can all be added to the catch. Enough with my lame attempt at trying to think of every name they have and let’s talk about if we are going to catch them this month.
Traditionally, May is the go-to month for mahi but the last handful of years mid-April has seemed to be the kick off. Unfortunately, the only way to truly know if they have shown up is to burn the fuel and ride. A lot of people will advise you to be like a pelican and wait at the dock for a good catch to be brought in and then go as quickly as you can. That can work to extent, but you have to always remember that yesterday’s fish are already caught. In addition, these fish don’t come in a steady stream, in Canaveral, they come in waves. Any surfer can tell you the only way to catch the perfect wave is to be in the water when the opportunity presents itself.
You need that perfect day when the Gulf stream current goes from nothing to a raging kegger with bait and seaweed in the mix. On that day, you have the perfect cocktail for spectacular mahi fishing. You might even see a wahoo or sailfish in the mix. You can troll natural bait and artificial or just ride the edge until you see them and sight cast. When these conditions happen, you can’t go wrong but What do you do if you ride all that way and find nothing? One option is to do what we like to call BOBO trolling. BOBO is where you put the trolling spread out and spend the rest of the day trolling back to the dock in hopes of a bite or two.
Another option is to prospect fish for May when grouper open up. Slim down your trolling spread to something that can be quickly brought in and re-deployed. Troll based on where you think you will find good new bottom structure. If you see something mark up on the bottom machine, drop a chicken rig with squid or cut bait. If you catch snappers, porgies or basically anything other than a lizard fish or golden seabass, then congratulations you found a new spot that can and will hold grouper. Focus this prospecting effort between 140 to 240 feet of water.
The main reefs can have fantastic fishing for king mackerel. A frozen sardine combined with a C&H king buster on #6 AFW wire is all you need to be successful trolling the 60 to 100-foot reefs. Visit the fellas at Handler Fishing Supply in Merritt Island and they will set you up proper. Plenty of cobia will still be around for those willing to leave some time in the late afternoon to look for them. A morning of slow trolling the main reefs followed up by an afternoon of cobia fishing is where I would say your day is best spent. A lot less work and a much cheaper fuel bill, but if you literally want to go for the gold you need to ride to the deep and take a look. You just might catch a big bull with a nice cow and pick up a few bailers at the same time.
Captain Greg Rapp
All Water Adventures, located at Sunrise Marina behind Grills in Port Canaveral, offers the full spectrum of on-the-water activities. Each trip is run by full time guides of our family owned businesses. They have a love and passion for the area and what they do. If you want to get on the water for some fishing or just relaxing, then give them a shout. 321-222-7511 – www.AllWaterAdventures.com