Dorado

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Dorado
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Dorado Flies

Baja Baitfish Flies
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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. 

Dorado Reports From The Sea of Cortez
According to the local reports action is heating up along the Baja coast. 

Report From Baja On The Fly - East Cape
The Cabo Pulmo tuna bite was the first stop on everyone's East Cape fishing day this week. There were plenty of yellowfin and dorado to satisfy the huge number of boats that stacked up there every morning. With fish busting bait on the surface and biting flies down deep, there were few complaints about the "combat fishing" conditions. John Spevacek and family made the trip from Connecticut to sample the East Cape fishery. He and his sons stacked up numerous double headers with John nailing fish on flies while his boys slammed them on live sardina. Back on the beach, ample quantities of bait continue provide good fly-fishing opportunities for dedicated beach anglers. Ladyfish, jack crevalle, and mid-sized roosters are the likely targets from the beach. The big roosters are definitely around, but they are paired up in spawning mode and not so interested in eating flies.

 

Report From Baja Big Fish Company - Loreto

Saturday things improved and the Dorado bit late morning with limits easily taken on flies. Some of these fish are huge, approaching 50 pounds but the average fish is in the twenties. You'll find them at the Baja de las Boyas, just north of Isla Coronado, just outside Punta Lobos...please refer to map below. There are lots of fish out there but the weather had made hooking into them somewhat spotty at times, but conditions are improving quickly for the better. There has been very little sargasso offshore to hold them lately but with the recent winds that situation has changed! My captains are now reporting very much sargasso offshore to our North and East. Two buoys were set by Arturo's Sportfishing last week about a mile NE of the Bajo de las Boyas. We will be setting one on Sunday (18 Jun) at the Cinquenta (50) spot off Punta Lobos. We have three more to set out after that. We hope to set them over some new bajos that we've located on the depth sounder. Our goal is to set them just on the outside of the islands so that we can fish for Dorado closer to port. So far we're having a good Dorado season and we expect this trend to continue!


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.

Flashy Fish Popper, Blue Flashy Fish Popper, Blue
#2/0 -9/16"x 4 1/2"
Blue back color.  Good in-shore and off-shore. This is an all around good popper for larger game fish. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
00840-2/0 Flashy Fish Saltwater Popper, Blue 2/0 $3.75


0Witch Craft Saltwater Popper,
#2/0 -Body 5/8"x 2" plus tail
Holographic scale pattern.  Very reflective.  Very lightweight and easy to cast. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
06334-2/0 Witch Craft Saltwater Popper, Holographic Scale 2/0 $3.75


Deceiver, Streaker Deceiver, Streaker
One of the original dorado flies. This fly traps a lot of air so that it stays near the surface.  Pull it fast so that it streaks along the surface.  Looks like a baby Dorado.
Item Description Size Price To Top
50050-3/0 Deceiver, Streaker 3/0, 6" $4.50


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.
Item Description Size Price To Top
01164-5x5 FPF Blue Mackerel 5/0x5/0 9" $18.95


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. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
06604-3/0 Baja Baitfish, Blue Back 3/0 $3.95


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.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06605-3/0 Baja Baitfish, Gray Back 3/0 $3.95


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.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06606-3/0 Baja Baitfish, Olive Back 3/0 $3.95


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Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes

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