Dorado Time

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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 Señor? No catch dorado on flies. Better to troll." But 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 ladyfish 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. 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, waterfront village of La Manzanilla. There were baitfish everywhere 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 Armando 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 old dorado 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.

Dorado are some of earth's most efficient creatures for converting food into body mass. From the time they reach two years old, they pair up and spawn almost continually. A pair of dorado can lay millions of eggs. Because of this fantastic ability to procreate, nowhere are dorado considered endangered. It's a good thing because throughout their circumglobal tropical range they are highly prized as both food and sport fish. Dorado 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 dorado like big mouthfuls. 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 of their 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 like to congregate under weed mats or floating debris. This is when they are easiest to catch with flies. They 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. Check out our selection of Dorado Flies.

Often when a dorado is hooked, others 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 them and the fish that come to the boat with the hooked one could stand as records if large enough.

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