The mahi you see pictured here was certainly no giant. Nor was it the intended target of the day, which was supposed to be all about tuna fishing. But sometimes things just don’t go your way, and on this particular day the fish seemed resolute in their intention of remaining lock-jawed. It would have been a bust, a skunk, a total failure if it were not for this one day-saving fish.
After spotting it swimming around a floating buoy and casting to it endlessly with bucktails, plastics, and ballyhoo chunks, this fish, too, appeared unwilling to strike. So, how did we eventually tempt it beyond its ability to resist? The same exact way we’ve managed to trick other lock-jawed mahi into feeding. We’ll call it: the sinking squid.
Step one is to prep a five to six foot leader of 30-pound fluorocarbon line (no heavier or the already uncooperative fish may spot it) by tying a Palomar loop into one end. Then take a whole squid, and cut or snip off the very tip of it’s mantle, just enough to make a hole the size of 30 pound test. Push the bare end of the leader into the hole, and work it down through the hollow mantle (spinning it in your fingers as you push can help) until it pops out the bottom, near the tentacles. Next, thread a one-ounce egg sinker through the line, and then tie on an 8/0 J-hook (not a circle hook, because the point will be shielded by the mantle itself when the rig is complete). Now hold the line up as you gently push the squid down, until the egg sinker is in the tip of the mantle and the hook is enveloped by it. Finally, push the hook point through so it’s exposed and about halfway down the mantle.
Attach the loop end of the leader onto your mainline, and toss the squid out 10 to 15 feet in front of the fish. Then, let it free-fall. With the lead in the tip of the mantle, the squid will appear to be swimming full-tilt straight down. And 99 times out of 100, a living mahi simply can not resist chasing it. Often, it will seem like the mahi simply disappeared. Then a moment later, you feel a bump on the line. Wait at least three seconds for the fish to get the squid completely into it’s mouth, and then set the hook.
Most importantly, never leave the dock and head out into the open ocean without a box of squid aboard. On days like this, they may turn a skunk into a bloody fishbox like no other bait or lure can.