Dorado

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Dorado, The Golden Ones
  Along the Mexican Pacific Coast, Dorado are the most prized of all of the fish species. My Spanish speaking skills are less than rudimentary.  When hiring a fishing guide,  the conversation often starts the same way.  "Fly fishing Senor? No catch Dorado on flies.  Better to troll."  Armando who speaks almost no English, was too much of a gentleman for that.  Instead he set his jaw and we spent the day fishing for Lady Fish and other small fish around the river mouth.  That night as we passed the docks on the way back to the hotel, I could see that it hurt his pride when his  buddy asked how we had done and Armando held his hands a foot apart and he explained in Spanish that he was guiding fly fishers.  The next day we started fishing in the little bay in front of the sleepy water front village of Manzenia.  There were bait fish every where and hundreds of little Jacks were crashing them.  The fishing was fast and furious with a strike on every cast for the first hour.  Then the Jacks got wise and the fishing slowed.  We were about ready to leave when Armondo said, "Big fish" and pointed out over the bow.    
I hadn't seen anything, but shot a cast in that general direction.  I had stripped it half way back to the boat when there was a hard pull that set the hook and the line left a rooster tail as it slashed through the water.  A big Bull Dorado vaulted five feet in the air, tore fifty yards of backing from the reel, somersaulted twice and then took another hundred yards and  was into the air several more times.  The battle lasted about twenty minutes and finally the twenty-five pounder was hoisted into the boat.  Armando gave me the high-five and shook my hand like a long lost brother.  From then on his demeanor changed regarding fly 
fishing and the following days were even more productive.  Dorado grow incredibly fast.  One year olds usually weigh about six pounds.  Two year old bulls may weigh 20-pounds.  Thirty plus pound bulls are usually only three years old.  Four year old Dorado may weigh as much as fifty pounds.  Few live beyond four years and those are giants.  Dorados are some of Earth's most 
efficient creatures for converting food into body mass.  From the time Dorados reach two years old, they pair up and spawn almost continually.  A pair of Dorados can lay millions of eggs.  Because of this fantastic ability to procreate, nowhere are Dorados considered endangered.  It's a good thing because throughout their circumglobal tropical range they are highly prized as both food and sport fish.  Dorados also seem to be very durable and revive quickly after being caught.  Catch and release works.
Eight weight gear is fine for one year old Dorado, but for adult fish in the twenty to thirty pound range 10-weight gear is barely adequate.  I prefer a 12-weight rod for a couple of reasons.  Big Dorados like big mouth-fulls.  Four to six inch long flies are often more productive than smaller ones.  We have caught a number of large Dorado on flies that were 12-inches long.  Most experienced anglers would agree that thirty pound plus Dorado take too long to land on a 10-weight rod.  It is more comfortable to get the fight over quicker, especially if several large fish are encountered in quick succession.  Dorado have several pads in the roof to the mouth that contain numerous small,
sharp teeth,  There are also rows of teeth on the lips and tongue. These teeth can be a factor concerning leader abrasion when using fine tippets or encountering larger than average fish.  Bite tippets of 30-pound test are recommended if you use tippets of less than twenty pound test.  Six to twelve inches of bite tippet can be attached to your leader with a simple surgeons knot.  We usually use tippets that are IGFA rated twenty pound test hard nylon and have had very few problems.  Our leaders are about 6-feet long and are made as follows: 24" of 50-pound test, 18" of 30-pound test and 30" of 20-pound test.  Dorado apparently eat a wide variety of smaller fish and squid.  We have witnessed them eating sardines, flying fish, and mackerels.   We have also seen Dorado that were vomiting up squid that they had eaten before being hooked.  Often when a Dorado is hooked other Dorado will follow it to the boat.  These other fish will often be trying to take the fly from the hooked fish's mouth.  Casting to them can bring instant strikes if the fly is presented as soon as these fish get in range.  The longer they hang around the boat the less inclined they are to strike.  Trolling flies is not considered legal fly fishing by IGFA rules and no fish hooked in this way can stand as a record fish.  However, when Dorado are scattered, trolling flies is the easiest way to locate fish and the fish that come to the boat with the hooked fish could stand as records if large enough.  Dorado like to congregated under weed mats or floating debris.  This is when they are easiest to catch with flies. 

Fishing Reports From South Of The Border
According to the local reports action is heating up along the Baja coast. 

Report From - East Cape, Baja Sur
Water temperature: 66-73
Air temperature: 63-88
Warmer water and less wind again brought this week brought some early rooster and jack action up toward Punta Pescadero and beyond to El Cardonal. Some better quality fish to 20 lbs. were found crashing on sardina close to shore. The bait also attracted a mixture of sierra, pargo and pompano, Inshore the sierra and white bonito were concentrated in front of La Ribera and down to Punta Colorada.Offshore there were rumors of a few marlin out beyond thirty miles and a few small dorado spread throughout Palmas bay. Up at Muertos, the grande yellowtail were still continuing their early season snap. Also some pargo and jacks were around to tear up tackle
Report With Help From: Baja On The Fly

 

Report From - Loreto, Baja
Loreto is one of our favorite saltwater ports. We have fished there in March for Yellowtail and in June/July for Dorado, Roosterfish and Billfish. Loreto offers the best shot at a world record Yellowtail on a fly. You can view a picture of my world record Yellowtail below.  It was caught the last week in March 2006. The women's world record has probably been recently broken by Dotty Ballantyne at 25-pounds (up from 8.5-pounds). This fish was caught March 12, 2008. You can read more about it here. If you want to get in on the Yellowtail surface action around Loreto, the time to be there is now! Loreto is beyond a doubt the best Dorado fly fishing port we have encountered.  You can join our hosted trip June 26 - July 3, which is set up in cooperation with Baja Big Fish Company who also supplied the fishing chart below.


Report From - Zihuatanejo, Mainland Mexico 
Water temperature: 80 - 84
Air temperature: 73 -96
The cool water is still with us, but the Terrafin Satellite Surface Temperature images show a finger of 80 water has moved up from the South. The warm water starts from about 10 miles from the beach, and extends to about 30 miles out.  A few sailfish, dorado and blue marlin are being taken, with the yellowfin tuna really getting active. The clear water is about 10 miles, and the most action, especially with the yellowfin tuna, being at the 16 mile mark. The yellowfin are averaging about 30 pounds each. This morning (Thursday), Cali called in to me to give me his weekly report on the Aloha. By 8:00 a.m., he already had a 25 pound dorado on the boat. He had also fished the last two days with fly fishing client, Robert Hoy, raising 5 sailfish and 1 blue marlin. Margarito, on the Gaby, told me he had gotten into schools of large jack crevalle 5 miles off the beach. They boated several of the 20 pound jacks before continuing on to find a couple of sailfish. Almost every boat in the fleet is getting the added spectacle of hump back whales, as they have moved into the area. Plus, lots of sea turtles are also being sighted each day by each boat.
Report With Help From: Baja On The Fly


Getting Ready For A Dorado Fly Fishing Trip

Maybe yours started when you bought that new 12-weight or when you started tying your stock of flies. The best foreign destination fly fishing trips start long before you get on the airplane.   Each of my trips start when I put them on the calendar.  I try to give myself at least 90-days head start and a full year is better.  To get the best fishing within a reasonable budget takes planning.  If the specie, numbers & size of the fish matter then a certain amount of logistical planning is involved. After the time, place, and support crew have been picked, there is still the

matter of personal gear that needs to be attended to.  A Pre-Travel Check List is invaluable.


Dorado Flies

Epoxy Head Anchovy Pencil Popper
Epoxy Head Gray Back Streaker
Flashy Fish Popper

Blue Mackerel

Witch Craft Popper Baja Baitfish

Mike Senatra and guide with nice bull Dorado. Mark Bachmann photo.

Dorado means gold in Spanish.  It's a reasonable name for a fish that can turn bright gold along the sides, but they are usually bright greenish blue along the back and have liberal amounts of blue spots and the pectoral fins are very bright electric blue.  Dorado are one of the most successful fishes and are found in tropical waters world wide.  In Australia and most of the Atlantic Ocean the specie is call Dolphin (not to 
be confused with a family of sea mammals of the same name).  In Hawaii they are called Mahi Mahi.  Dorados are prime fly rod sport fish for a number of reasons.  They are very strong and acrobatic.  They spend a lot of time around the surface of the water where they are comparatively easy to reach while fly fishing.  Dorado grow incredibly fast.  At one year old most exceed 6 pounds and may be over twenty pounds at age two.  Three year old Dorado usually exceed thirty pounds.  Few Dorado live beyond the forth year.   The world record is 87 pounds.  Once the fish reach maturity they spawn every six weeks and broadcast about 400,000 eggs.  The eggs which are about the size of the head of a pin hatch in about 60 hours, and the little fish start growing immediately.  This fast growth rate keeps them eating constantly and they are very aggressive biters most of the time.  They feed on bait  
fish of many sizes and are fond of sardines, flying fish, mackerel and  squid.  On a recent trip to the sea of Cortez several fish were vomiting up squid as they were being played.  This attracted more Dorado which quickly consumed the free 

When hooked a Dorado runs hard and often jumps spectacularly, then slugs it out all the way to the boat. Mike Senatra photo.

meal.  Some of the squid were more than a foot long.  When hooked, a Dorado runs hard and often jumps spectacularly, then slugs it out all the way to the boat.  They can exceed 50 miles per hour for short bursts.   Ordinarily they save a bit of energy to thrash about madly as the angler tries to either release, or land the fish.

Dorado have multiple groups of wicked little teeth that can chew your leader and flies.  Patty Barnes photo.

Dorado have multiple groups of wicked little teeth that can chew your leader and flies.  It is advised that when large fish are expected that a shock tippet of 50-60 pound test is used.  A simple leader formula is as follows: 12" or less #50 shock tippet, 16'" or more of #16 or #20 class tippet, 3' of #50 butt section.  Sections of leader can be assembled with surgeon's knots. Smaller fish can be landed on straight twenty pound test tippets.  Our favorite rods for Dorado are #10 to #12 weight.  Fast sinking shooting head fly lines such as the Jim Teen T-Series or  
Cortland's Quick Decent lines are a good bet for fishing bait fish and squid patterns.  Intermediate or floating lines with intermediate tips are best for fishing poppers.  Dorados like to hang around anything that is floating on the water.  Floating weed mats, debris, rays or turtles will often have Dorados under them.  I once hooked a 20 pound Dorado from under a single floating Styrofoam cup.  Most Dorados that are caught with flies after having been chummed up with live or cut bait.  Another way to attract Dorado to the boat is to simply troll a fly and when a Dorado is hooked the commotion will attract others that can be cast to.  Dorados can be picky.  Often they will be keyed on one type of food.  It pays to have a range of sizes and kinds of flies that imitate the range of food organism that Dorados eat.  On a recent trip to Loreto  

Ron Walp with Mexican Dorado.  Mark Bachmann photo.

Mexico, it was very large flies that saved our trip.  We found that trolling 12" Marlin flies was the easiest way to pull deep feeding Dorados to the surface where we could get at them.  Once a school was around the boat, we could chum them with sardines and then get them to eat flies that looked and behaved like the sardines, but is was the big flies that got the game started.  Ordinarily the bigger fish like to feed on larger flies.

6Painted Popper, Bright
#2/0 -9/16"x 4 1/2"
Bloodshot baby dorado color.  A good pattern for adult dorado, jacks and any specie that eats baby dorados.
Fishing on the surface is the most classic style of fly

fishing.  Popper fishing is about as close to dry fly fishing as the saltwater angler is going to get.  There is no doubt in the thrill of seeing a trout come to the surface and sip a dry fly from the surface of a clear stream.  However, watching a forty pound dorado slash to the surface, crush your popper, and then extract many hundreds of feet of backing from your screaming reel is an event hard to accurately describe. Popper fishing is a game that every saltwater angler ought to be prepared to try.

         
         

0Witch Craft Saltwater Popper,
#2/0 -Body 5/8"x 2" plus tail
Holographic scale pattern.  Very reflective.  Very lightweight and easy to cast. 

Mark's Sardina Fly
These flies are the ones currently at the top of the Sardina Fly evolution.
Item Description Size Price To Top

FPF Blue Mackerel FPF Blue Mackerel
A very good fly for all species of billfish, and large Dorado.  Big Dorado eat large bait fish.  Tish one fly you definitely need in your assortment.  Tandem 5/0 hooks.

Baja Baitfish Flies
Baja Baitfish, Blue Back Baja Baitfish, Gray Back Baja Baitfish, Olive Back
Big fish often eat very small fish.

Like trout feeding on midge pupas, many giant fish feed on small fragile, easy to catch, baitfish.  Ninety-pound Sailfish will eat 5-inch long Sardinas. One time we encountered three sails lounging on the surface.  The guide tossed a Sardina at them. All three chased it and the next several others.  I threw a Grey Back Baitfish Baitfish at the lead Sail with a 10-weight rod.  He took without hesitation and stayed on for three jumps until the light leader came in contact with his raspy bill. Fifty pound Dorados eat small baits

and so will 30-plus pound Yellowtails.  Big Roosters, Bonitos and lots of other fun critters eat a variety of small baitfish, including small mullets, flying fish and sardines.  The Baja Baitfish Series is tied on extra heavy duty, razor sharp Gamakatsu hooks so you can use 20-pound test class tippet without fear.  The flies are dressed rough looking on purpose.  The extra-wide Mylar dressed into these flies gives them an injured, scaled look. This extra material can be quickly trimmed of for a smoother, healthier look.  Both presentations are valid in different circumstances.


Baja Baitfish, Blue Back
This is one of the favorite deep water colors.  Many fish can change colors to match their surroundings.  Baitfish near the surface, over deep water are usually very light colored on the belly and very dark on the back.  Flying fish are a good example. 

Baja Baitfish, Gray Back
Baitfish tend to bleach out when they are in shallow water.  Mullets and Sardinas turn grayish when over mud or sand bottoms.   The Gray Back is a good start for shallow barren areas.

Baja Baitfish, Olive Back
Many parts of the Ocean bottom have vegetation such as algae, etc.  the baitfish try to blend in to keep safe from diving birds and foraging predator fish.  The Olive Back is a good starting fly for many mid-depth areas.

Have you put it on the calendar & booked your motel/hotel room for:
The Greatest Spey Rod Party On Earth?
The Sandy River Spey Clave, May 17-18, at Oxbow Park on the Sandy River
You are going to want to see these guys: 10:30-11:00am, May 18
Scott O'Donnell & Mike McCune
"Their claim: We can take anybody out of the crowd and teach them to perform a spey cast in five minutes! "

Scott O'Donnell and Mike McCune have educated and entertained us at each Sandy River Spey Clave since 2004. Their presentations are always leading-edge because these two guys spend a lot of time on-the-water; fishing.  As professional guides, their annual circuit takes them from the Oregon Coast, to Alaska, to the Grand Rhonde and back to the coast again.  They are with a different set of clients every week...year round.  They see a lot of different acts and they see a lot of different casting

mistakes.  Scott & Mike constantly work
to help improve the casting skills of their clients.  This demands that they are constantly analyzing how every cast is made and how to improve upon it.  Their understanding of Spey casting is constantly evolving and each of their presentations at the Clave has been different.  Their tackle is the configured to work the best under the fishing conditions they encounter on the rivers they fish.  Both of these gentlemen had a huge impact on the development of Rio's

Skagit Lines and were chosen to present Skagit Casting Techniques on Rios' new 3 DVD block buster, Rio's Modern Spey Casting.  When I asked Scott for some promo pictures of  him and Mike with big fish, he relied, "How about little fish.  Little fish are cool too".   This presents a refreshing insight, since there are plenty of pictures of these guys with very large fish.

A transplant to the Pacific Northwest, via the U.S. Navy, Scott O'Donnell settled on the banks of the historically rich, North Fork Stillaguamish River, in Northwestern Washington State. It was there, in 1987, he was first introduced to the spey rod and has been in the thick of the spey casting
revolution ever since. His contributions to spey rod and line design, spey fishing techniques, and his exceptional abilities as a casting instructor has made him one of the most sought after steelhead guides in the West. He is also highly influential member of the Sage and Rio Products Pro Staffs. Scott currently resides in Seaside, Oregon.
 

Mike McCune is a full time fly fishing guide and lives on the Oregon Coast. Born and raised in Northern California, Mike is a life-long Steelhead "junkie" and has fished and guided extensively throughout their native range. A devotee of two-handed methods, Mike is also member of Sage fly rods advisory team Rio products pro staff.

Scott and Mike are great team and put on show that is bound to educate and entertain you
and your mom.


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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty

 


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