Saltwater Fishing along the North Carolina Coast and How to Catch NC Mahi Mahi


North Carolina Northern Coast

The Northern Coast is world famous for it’s offshore fishing. Whether you are looking for trophy marlin, sailfish, the incredibly strong Bluefin tuna, or looking for the delicious table fare of tuna, dolphin, or wahoo, you can find it on the northern coast. The inshore fishing is also terriffic. The Red Drum may be the best known, but equally good is fishing for striped bass, speckled trout, gray trout, flounder, bluefish and others.

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North Carolina Central Coast

The Central Coast or Crystal Coast as it is often called is world famous for it’s Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. Fantastic offshore and inshore fishing can be found in this area. Experienced captains will guide you to offshore catches of marlin, tuna, dolphin, mackeral and others. Inshore you will find good catches of trout, flounder, bluefish, red drum and others.

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North Carolina Southern Coast

The southern coast is well known for it’s inshore red drum, flounder and trout fishing. Terrific bottom fishing for grouper and snapper can be found in the southern offshore waters. Dolphin and Tuna are also plentiful offshore. The King and Spanish Mackeral fishing is as good as anywhere in the U.S.

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Mahi-mahi – a Spectacular Fighter

Pound for pound, one of the most exciting challenges an angler can tackle is reeling in the beautiful dolphinfish. This species, which is also known as mahi-mahi, the lampuka, or dorado should be on the bucket list of all North Carolina saltwater fishermen. They are highly sought after because of their beauty, size, food quality and fighting ability.

Know Where to Find Them

The best places to catch these fish are just off shore in temperate, tropical or subtropical waters of the North Carolina ocean , the North Carolina Gulf Stream, Caribbean Sea, the Mediterranean, the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, West Africa, the South China Sea, Southeast Asia, and Hawaii.

Flycasters often look for frigatebirds to find big mahi mahi. Experienced fishing guides can often tell what species are around by the birds’ behavior. North Carolina dolphin are mostly found in surface water, swimming near natural debris such as drift wood, palm fronds, or sargassum, but they aren’t particular and will even congregate around trash.

Catch and release of nice red drum.

Catch and release of nice red drum.

Choose the Right Gear

Mahi mahi over 40 pounds are exceptional, so 30- to 50-pound gear is more than adequate when trolling for them. Some experts even recommend using 20- to 25-pound tackle since the average catch is 20 pounds. This can still bring in bigger bulls if you have several hundred yards of line to let them make long, hard runs.




Since these creatures respond to the same bait and fishing technique as the blue marlin, fishermen sometimes catch one type of fish while trolling for the other. Either fish will bite on konahead lures or plastic squid. Other successful big game lures include the Deceiver, Blue Mackerel, Olive Sardina, or the Epoxy Head Anchovy.

Use the Right Technique

If you are trolling, remember that their bodies are slightly slender and long, giving them the ability to swim over 50 miles per hour. Don’t be afraid to increase your trolling speed if your prey isn’t biting.

Once they are sighted, a good way to get their attention is to throw live sardines or chum into their midst. A hungry school of these dolphinfish will be excited into a feeding frenzy and attack everything in the water. The boat will turn from calm to frantic as everyone grabs a fishing pole and casts a fly into the churning water.

Brace for an Exciting Fight

Mahi mahi may not be the largest of the big game fish, but they definitely give a good scrap to keep from being landed. The word mahi-mahi means “very strong” in Hawaiian and most anglers who have tackled them will agree. The contest will be tough and long, but the adrenaline rush helps the fisherman carry on.

Mahi mahi will often tail walk and take to the air in their bid for freedom, and watching a large one leap out of the water is an awesome sight. They have distinctive large, flat heads and colorful skin that shines in the sunlight. Dorado is Spanish for “gold,” and that is their dominant color, but these flashy, acrobatic animals display bright blue, red, and green hues on their sides and back when they jump. They fade to a dark yellow upon death.

After they are subdued and on the way to your table, you’re in for another treat. This gorgeous fish has tender, oily flesh which is similar to sardines. A soft, succulent mahi-mahi steak is regarded as an epicurean delight, and it tastes even better when you hooked it yourself.








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