Monday, October 6, 2008

What's a Mahi Mahi?

Last Sunday was a complete washout on Mille Lacs as they received a much needed dose of rain. I decided to stay home and plant a number of nice trees we bought on sale including 2 apple, 2 Autumn Blaze Maple, and a Northern Red Oak. On Saturday we drove to Eau Claire to meet with my wife's aunt's and uncle's to celebrate Sister Rosemary's birthday at the Red Lobster. Being severely allergic to lobster, crab, and shrimp I was relegated to the fresh fish menu. Having plenty of fresh salmon and halibut in the freezer, the cod did not sound appealing, and the fresh whitefish can be somewhat fishy if the waiter cannot answer that question, so I settled on the mahi mahi. What's a mahi mahi? I have eaten out a number of times when it was on the menu and those with me never heard of it and weren't going to risk a bad meal. Those that have taken the time to be more daring were rewarded with one of the best tasting fish served today.

Mahi Mahi is the Hawaiian name for a colorful fish that inhabits the warm waters of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In Florida the fish is called a Dolphin Fish and in Mexico it's noted as a Dorado. A fish by any other can not catch a fish that is more colorful, puts up an insane fight, and taste absolutely delicious.

In 1997 I was making a small part for a local company. They wanted a very special size and only one company was willing to work with us. At it's peak we were buying over $100,000 per year of this special part. The president of the supplier, Walt Benecki was an avid fisherman and I had taken him as well as his local rep and my dear friend Pat Holmes to Mille Lacs fishing one day. He told me of a fishing contest that he hosted in Cabo San Lucas and would like me to come one year. Walt was a big roller and although he was a great guy, I sort of blew it off as a pipe dream. Well in March of the next year he called and asked if I would join him at the Palmas de Cortez for a friendly fishing tournament towards the end of April. My only requirement was to get to Los Angeles and he would take care of the rest. A great friend Paul Wenaas had a frequent flyer ticket that was ready to expire so he sold it to me for $100 and I was on my way. I was due meet Walt and 2 other guys Shuk his sales manager, and Fred, a customer from San Diego at LAX no later than 6:00 in the morning. Flying in the night before my flight was due in at 11:00PM. Luck would have it we arrived 45 minutes early figuring I would get a nice night of sleep only to sit on the tarmac almost 2 hours waiting for the gate to clear. By the time I got my luggage and to the hotel it was 1:00. Once at the hotel I had learned my office manager had made my reasonable reservation for a different day and they had no room. They finally coughed one up for double my previous cost. It was the most expensive 3 hours of sleep I ever paid for.

Meeting at LAX we headed for Cobo. Walt had rented a van for the hour drive to Palmas De Cortez stopping for a cold cerveza for good measure. I had never been to Mexico and arriving at our destination was that pipe dream come true. It was fabulous from the turquoise water to the tropical atmosphere at the resort. There were 4 of us and we fished 2 days, switching boats each day. Fishing dorado was very interesting. Prior to heading out we would stop at a boat about a quarter mile out to buy bait, 6 - 8 inch sardines. The locals netted them and charged us $20 for a net full. We would drive up to any flotsam and throw a couple of sardines in. If there was a dorado hanging around he would make short work of those sardines prompting us to toss in a baited line. The other way was to troll chugger type lures directly in the prop wash within 30 feet of the boat. These lure chug, dive just below the surface, grabbing air and bubbling and gurgling before returning to the surface repeating the action. This drives marlin as well as dorado crazy. They put up an incredible fight, however the show really begins as the near the boat. Like many saltwater fish, they literally light up with brilliant neon colors when agitated. The picture above does little justice as they turn yellow, green, teal, blue that looks surreal. Once in the boat the almost immediately turn a dull gray. The males are called bulls and have a very pronounced square head. This is a picture of a days work with the largest being a respectable 45 pounds. They are excellent table fare and fresh dorado was served in the dining room each night. Along with dorado we enjoyed the company of many fellow fisherman enjoying one of the most beautiful places in the world to fish. I did catch a big marlin and will save that story for later. You can get more information about fishing the East Cape by visiting As for Walt, he has gone on to write a fabulous book about his own personal fishing adventures, True Fish Stories. If you are interested in a very nice written book that any fisherman can relate to check out his site, Walt has included a incident that I reported on our first day of the trip that was pretty funny (to me anyway!). His book has been one of my main inspirations to start putting down in words my own fishing adventures in the form of this blog. He is truely a world fisherman and one I will always admire. Thanks Walt and I plan on not making our trip the once in a lifetime event.

So if you see Mahi Mahi on the menu, be daring and try one of the most tastiest fish served today.

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