One of the most exciting things about summer arriving, is the arrival of dorado off the east coast of South Africa. These amazing fish are a firm favourite with many ski boat anglers. They look exotic with their beautiful colours, they seem to be almost perpetually hungry, and they provide a spectacular fight on light spinning tackle.
I always keep a flick stick handy on the boat, rigged with a small lure that can be cast quickly at any sighted fish. Dorado are attracted to floating debris in the ocean and often come close to boats to take a look and see if there are any small food items sheltering beneath them. Most times, if a lure is flicked out near one of these curious fish, they will attack instantly.
I have caught dorado on just about every type of lure in my box, so it doesn't take any specific lure to turn them on, but rather getting one into the water quickly when he is around. I think that a soft plastic jerk shad rigged on a jig head is probably the best all round lure to have rigged and ready. It casts well, sinks if you want it to, and has plenty of attractive movement in the water. I normally go for a 5 inch soft plastic in a natural colour and rig it on a 1/2 ounce jig head.
I would normally rig one on a light spinning setup, such as a Trevala rod and 5000 to 6000 size reel, loaded with 30 to 50lb braid. I do like to use a fluorocarbon leader, as dorado have pretty good eyesight and they are found in crystal clear water.
The plop of the lure landing is often enough to bring the dorado charging in, and a quick twitch will almost guarantee that it gets inhaled quickly. Dorado are great fun once hooked, running hard and fast and jumping from the water during the fight. The hooked fish is often followed by another, which gets quite excited during the fight and will often take a second lure cast in near it.
When you are out at sea and you see flying fish fleeing in panic, very often this is because dorado are on the hunt. It can be very worthwhile chasing after the cation and getting lures into the water ahead of the fish. The fact that dorado are pelagic, open ocean dwellers and are very fast growing fish, means that they have a high metabolism and need to eat constantly. They cannot afford to be too fussy, as a lost meal is a lost opportunity to them.
They are also often in pairs or small packs, which increases the competition factor and makes them more aggressive. Many KZN fishermen fish around offshore FADS during the summer, as dorado congregate around these in numbers. Ships at anchor are also very attractive to dorado and serve to congregate numbers of fish at times.
Due to the fact that most of their prey is very fast moving, dorado are fast swimmers and fast hunters. They will definitely be more turned on by a faster moving lure than a slow one. A very quick jerky retrieve is usually enough to trigger an explosive strike.
Dorado can be quite a handful once landed, as they jump and kick a lot on the boat, trying to continue swimming in the air. It is advisable to subdue them quickly and remove the lure, as treble hooks flying around on a boat can be a recipe for disaster! Another good reason to favour a soft plastic rigged on a jig head with a single hook!