Anglers aboard the Sum Fun out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing enjoyed a brief but exciting encounter with dorado on Wednesday.
Exotic-looking dorado, or mahi-mahi, are common off Mexico and in the Sea of Cortez, but are rare visitors to Southern California waters. Their presence is generally associated with the warm-water El Niño phenomenon.
But thanks to persistent heat and little wind, sea surface temperatures have increased to 70-plus degrees in some areas off Orange and San Diego Counties.
The Sum Fun was carrying 17 passengers who hooked four dorado and landed only two, weighing about 15 pounds apiece.
But the floating kelp paddy they stopped alongside, about 20 miles off Del Mar, was providing shelter for about 50 dorado, which were easily visible from the boat.
Capt. Brian Woolley said it's common for early-season dorado to be finicky and said his group was fortunate to have put a couple of quality fish aboard. The fish were caught in 70.7-degree water.
Woolley also said anglers aboard private skiffs have made sporadic local dorado catches, so paddy-hopping will become a popular adventure over the coming days and, perhaps, weeks. (Dorado like to gather under floating objects, such as kelp paddies, for cover and because the objects attract smaller fish as a possible food source.)
Dana Wharf's next paddy-hopping trip will be Aug. 15, with another scheduled Aug. 19.
--Image shows angler Robert Beyer (black hat) with one of two dorado caught Wednesday aboard the Sum Fun out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing. Courtesy of the landing
Note: Dana Wharf employee Travis Tompkins on Tuesday caught what might have been the first local dorado of the season, on a private boat, and will share his thoughts on what might develop Thursday night on Phil Friedman Outdoor Radio, which can be heard from 8-10 p.m