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  • Writer's pictureNick Dorado

Mahi Mahi, Destin Fishing Rodeo, and a Fisherman’s Paradise

People love mahi. They sure are a great tastin’ fish, especially blackened or for fish tacos!

When you first catch them straight out of the water, they are literally glowing green. Quite easily the most vibrant fish in our warm Florida waters!

And boy, they have personality too!

These fish have their mind made up about whether they’ll be eating or not that day, and they tell all their friends! It’s hard to catch just one. And if they’re biting, well, then you might catch at least 5 in less than a minute. So be ready!

If they aren’t biting, they will be swimming in that top water looking at you, and refusing to take a bite! I love their stubbornness, there is something endearing about a fish that isn’t mediocre about its plans for the day. It makes them even that much more fun to catch!

If they are in the mood to bite, since they are a top water fish (i.e. pelagic) you’ll see them put on a show, just jumping and skipping across the water after the bait. It’s so cool to watch, and definitely adds an element of excitement to the catch!

They are a migratory fish, so unlike some other species, they aren’t here all the time and we’ve taken note that their favorite time to visit our area seems to be October.

Also worth noting this fish is also known as “Dorado” like our namesake, especially in Latin America!

More mahi info you can visit here.

In October about 2 years ago, I had a trip with a kid and his mom. She brought him to go Fishin’ ; he had never been before in the Gulf.

We headed out to do some bottom fishing, and the bottom bite wasn’t happening. There were lots of weed lines, sargassum, floating on top of the water -- basically seaweed and grass that floats on top.

So we start navigating between pieces of grass trying to find a bite, and spot a couple of mahi!

In our excitement we get hooked up to one, and as we were reeling him in, he makes a few jumps and we realize he’s pretty big one -- about 20 pounds!

At the same time, we had a line in the water that his mom had. She was kind of sitting back and watching her son fish in these waters for the first time. So she wasn’t expecting this to happen...

All of a sudden, the biggest mahi-- a bull mahi --took her bait!

She picked up her line and started reelin’! Then the worst thing that could ever happen took place: the lines got tangled. At that point in time, we thought we’d lose at least one of the mahi, and maybe even both of them, because that’s usually what happens in that situation.

And then to make things even more complicated, the mom’s mahi goes to the back of the boat and gets wrapped behind the motor!

Then it was time to improvise. So I got down behind the motors and somehow pushed the line down, and got him out from between the motors. Almost an impossible thing because the line’s so thin.

After that both fish swam in opposite directions and became untangled! What a miracle!

We then gaffed the son’s mahi, and fought the mom’s mahi for another 20 solid minutes! We landed both mahi in the boat and even got this picture that day.

This area really is Fisherman’s Paradise. Angling brings thrilling adventure every time you hit the water, and it's fun that knows no age.

If you’d like to grab a mahi (or two), this is the perfect time to do so. Not only are they coming in stronger now, and usually passing through our waters, but something really special is about to happen. And you won’t want to miss out on this!

The most popular event in the area, the 72nd Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, officially kicks off October 1st!

This “Angler’s Tournament”, which runs steadily through the entire month, brings in fishermen from all over the world. It’s one of the most enjoyable times of the year, too, and a perfect outdoors event for you and the family.

Nothing compares to this type of “rodeo”, really, and year after year it never gets old!

Locals say that it all began in the summer of 1948 as a means to bring people to Destin, but that it hasn’t stopped since! They keep coming back to compete and go fishin’ in some of the most beautiful and warm tropical waters in the world. Cash, prizes, and of course bragging rights come along with it too if you win one of the tournaments.

Currently, the rodeo is headquartered behind A.J.’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, and weigh-ins for participants happen every day during October from 10 am to 7 pm. There are over 500 “Angler Tournament” prizes, 35 species of eligible rodeo fish -- to include trigger fish which they just added to their line up -- and in 25 different divisions!

Junior division

Ladies division

Senior division

Paddle Board division

Kayak division

Pier division

Bridge division

Jetty division

And surf division

The little ones have weekly activities to keep them busy also. The current line-up of entertainment includes:

The always fun Kids Fall Movie Festival, which happens on Monday, October 12th. Think big (like famous big) JumboTron movie screen with hot dogs, popcorn, and snow cones.

The Larry Hattchett Fishing Foundation Day takes place on Saturday, October 24th. This event brings local foster children to the marina and teaches them about marine habitats and environmental awareness.

And of course, there’s the very popular Halloween on the Harbor day which takes place on Saturday, October 31st. This party is called the “largest Halloween party in Destin” -- an unlikely holiday event your kids are sure to remember.

And finally, sparks fly at the fireworks finale when all the fun comes to an end, right where it all started, at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

As you can see, there’s really something for everyone here.

Been thinking it’s time you got in on all the action and angled yourself a catch?

We’re excited to announce that Florida locals and homeowners enjoy 10% off their next Blue Sky Fishing trip! The special promotion will run in conjunction with the rodeo, from October 1st to 31st, so book your trip today!

See you on the water,

Capt Nick

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