In earlier years, mahi-mahi were known mainly as bycatch in tuna and swordfish longline commercial fisheries. Now they are sought in their own right by commercial and recreational fishermen.
A typical fishing technique is to take a sport fishing boat to the edge of a reef in about 120 feet (37 m) of water and troll near a line of floating sargasso weed. Mahi-mahi often congregate around marine debrissuch as floating boards, palm trees and fronds, often found in association with such weed lines. Sargasso sometimes holds a complete ecosystem from microscopic creatures to seahorses, small crabs, juvenile triggerfish and other bait fish. Frigate birds dive for the food accompanying the debris or sargasso. Other fish may be present in the area. Experienced fishermen can tell what species are likely around the debris by the birds' behaviour.
Mahi-mahi hunt flying fish
Mahi-mahi typically are taken by trolling ballyhoo on the surface with 30 to 50 pound line test tackle.Once a school of Mahi are encountered, casting with small jigs or fly casting using a bait-and-switch technique can be successful. Ballyhoo or a net full of live sardines tossed into the water can be used to excite the mahi-mahis into a feeding frenzy. Hookless teaser lures can also be employed in the same manner. The teasers or live chum are tossed into the water, the fly is thrown to the feeding mahi-mahi. Once hooked, mahi-mahi are acrobatic game fish displaying spectacular blue, yellow and green colours.
A very different technique uses land based kites, instead of boats and rods, as the mechanism for delivering the terminal tackle at the end of a fishing line. This method has been used to catch mahi-mahi from cliff tops in Hawaii.
In French Polynesia, mahi-mahi are caught with a harpoon. Mahi-mahi don't dive when they are pursued. A specifically designed boat, called the poti marara, is used. This boat is a powerful motorised V-bottom boat, optimized for high agility and speed, and driven with a stick so that the pilot can hold his harpoon with his right hand.