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dolphinfish fishing

This post is a complete guide of the fish with a thousand names. We will discover where and how to catch dolphinfish, dorado or mahi mahi.

One of the most widespread fish on the planet, we can find it anywhere in the world. But in every part of the globe, this curious fish receives its own name. Instead, it can be recognized worldwide by its scientific nomenclature “Coryphaena hippurus”.

Next, we review some of the most outstanding curiosities of this species and we will see techniques to catch it. The dolphinfish or mahi mahi is one of the most sought after fish by sport fishermen, thanks to its fighting ability. Another attraction is its speed, as it’s one of the fastest species in the ocean. Get to the end of this post if you want to show how much you know about dolphinfish fishing with a quiz!

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What is the name of this species?

The common name that this species receives depends mainly on the area of ​​the world where it is found. We have designed a map to show you some of the nomenclatures that are used to identify this peculiar fish.

Dolphinfish Mahi Mahi
Dolphinfish in the US, Mahi Mahi in Hawaii.

Dolphinfish is the common name used for this specie mainly in the United States. The name of mahi mahi comes from the Hawaiian archipelago. It receives this name with a meaning of vigor, something like “very strong.” This is because the dolphinfish attacks with great force and has great fighting power when caught. But, what other names is this species known by? Dorado in Mexico, llampuga in Spain, capone in Italy, coriphene in France, perico in Honduras, corado in Nicaragua, baal in India, belitong in Malaysia, dalphino in Brazil, doirado in Portugal, delfim in Angola…

Since there are so many names for this species, we should not confuse it with the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) or the Dorado (Salminus brasiliensis), a famous species in Latin America.

Where is the Dolphinfish or Mahi Mahi found?

The dolphinfish, in parts of Mexico and Costa Rica, is a species that commonly lives near the surface of the high sea water, where they gather for long exoduses around the world. This fish normally migrates in search of temperate areas of water, close to twenty degrees centigrade. Tropical or subtropical areas are the places where this species usually inhabits. This makes it difficult to locate the mahi mahi in cold places. In addition, they are rarely found in coastal areas.

It is in warm areas where the dolphinfish usually spawns. For much of the year, this species can find ocean currents conducive to egg development. The best places to find dolphinfish are in Mexico or Costa Rica. Also, in the southern part of Asia, on the coasts of tropical islands like Hawaii or even in places near the Arabian Sea.

Characteristics of the dolphinfish or mahi mahi

As main characteristics, the dolphinfish has a large mouth that contains numerous small teeth, which surround the entire jaw. Inside the oral cavity we find a small tongue. It body is elongated but compressed on the sides and with only a dorsal fin that extends from its head to practically reaching the tail. The tail fins and anal fins of this species are concave in shape. The dolphinfish usually weighs between seven and thirteen kilos (15 – 29 lbs). They are about a meter (3,3 feet) in length.

The differences between male and female specimens are easily recognizable. The males of this species can also be called Bull Dolphin. They are recognizable by their prominent top of the head. An almost flat forehead, clearly protruding from his body. The front part of the females is slightly more rounded at the height of the dorsal fin. The females are usually smaller than the males.

The life expectancy of dolphinfish is approximately four years, although they rarely reach five. The growth and development of this fish is relatively rapid. The dolphinfish is a great predator. When it is young, it tends to move around and live together and gregariously with other individuals of its own species. During the adult stage, it become more solitary, although they move in schools when they have to migrate.

dolphinfish mahi mahi
WeFish user, _Fishhuntcr_, holding a beautiful dolphinfish.

The color of mahi mahi

Much of the names that this species receives, the “coryphaena hippurus”, are due to the fact that the dolphinfish dazzles with a large number of colors, but it’s mainly golden in color. Throughout the fish’s side, the color so characteristic of this species spreads, but blue and green colors are also added. This union of dazzling colors produces the glow on the cycloid scales of this species. Blue is also present on the mahi mahi’s pectoral fins.

After the fish dies, the fish’s scales change color. The Dolphinfish loses some of its brightness and the secondary colors give way to a more grayish tone.

The rapid growth of the dolphinfish

Dolphinfish lay a huge number of eggs, especially during the spring season. They usually mate in areas of the high seas, but to spawn they come slightly closer to the coast. A female can release approximately 50,000 eggs each time. Dolphinfish hatchlings usually grow an average of two centimeters (0,8 in) a week and about a kilo (2,2 pounds) a month. Both males and females reach reproductive capacity shortly before six months of age.

Mahi mahi diet

Mahi mahi is a clear predator perfectly adapted to its environment. They are carnivores. It is also one of the fastest fish, being able to reach fifty knots of speed.

On a daily basis, the mahi mahi is able to eat a fifth or a quarter of its own weight. It’s not very exclusive with respect to its food. It can feed on other fish, crustaceans, some cephalopods or zooplankton. Even if they are hungry, they can eat younger specimens of the same species.

Males tend to feed more frequently and in greater numbers than females. This is because they have a larger constitution and have a faster metabolism. Due to the last point, although they are a similar size, the male continues to feed more voraciously than the female.

Short film from the BBC program The Hunt.

How to catch dolphinfish or mahi mahi: Techniques

We can use different methods to catch dolphinfish. Dolphinfish fishing is mainly done from a boat, although it may be the case of catching them from the coast, although it’s less frequent. We are going to explain some modalities used from a boat.

One of the most used modalities for dolphinfish fishing is trolling. It’s advisable to use this technique to locate the trail of the dolphinfish. When searching in the shallower areas of the water it’s recommendable to use lines that do not reflect sunlight. Due to the predatory nature of mahi mahi, live bait, which gives off a strong smell, is very useful in these cases.

A technique that we can use both from the boat and on the shore is light spinning. Attractive lures for this search can be poppers or some minnows, the more similar to the fish in the area, the better. The movements must be conspicuous to attract the attention of the dolphinfish.

Jigging or jig fishing is also a common practice. Using flashy and shiny jigs helps to quickly grab the attention of the dolphinfish that will attack fiercely.

Lures for dolphinfish fishing:

  • Skipper Lure. These lures are designed to be picked up at very high speeds and they have the advantage of being easy to cast. These characteristics make dolphinfish like this type of lure very much. The best way to use these lures is to cast them as far as possible and bring them back at full speed above the water. One tip: a large hook adapts very well to this type of lure, in case other types of large fish bite and so as not to slow it down when picking up the lure.
  • Poppers. These lures make a lot of noise and, like the previous ones, navigate the surface, which makes them one of the Dolphinfish’ favorite targets. Tip: If you see that the dolphinfish bite the popper with little intensity, try a smaller model. To use them, throw it as far as possible and pick up the line quickly, but if the dolphinfish starts to bite, use slow movements and small pulls. The noise can make us attract more predators, so they are usually quite effective.
  • Walkers. Much more realistic in movements and colors. By not making so much noise, it will not attract dolphinfish at greater distances, but they are effective if they are close to the target. Its “zig zag” movement makes it attractive to dolphinfish. We can also make small jerks so that the walker has very nervous movements and without traveling long distances, something irresistible for this species.
  • Subwalkers. More effective than surface ones, especially when you know where to find dolphinfish. It is recommended to take small pauses when collecting the lure, although it can also be collected at high speed. They are also very useful when fishing with waves.
  • Soft Plastic lures. When we fail to hit any lure to catch Dolphinfish, we will use our last weapon: Soft plastics. Recommended, without lead, since they are the most natural and effective that we can use. It is necessary to have the dolphinfish close by, because this type of lure does not reach great distances. It can be collected regularly and constantly.
Fishing for dolphinfish
What are the best lures for catching dolphinfish?

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) fishing in Florida

Dolphin fishing in Florida is something that saltwater anglers enjoy very much. The southeastern part of the state offers quick access to the Gulf Stream, a migration zone for this species. The Mahi Mahi begin to move south in November, passing through Stuart and St Lucie’s Inlet and can be found quite close to shore here until July. Large specimens of this species appear around April and slowly begin to move north in June, but remain in southern Florida, especially the Keys, until September. So, in Florida, catching dolphinfish varies moderately throughout the year. High season is April to August. Low season is October.

Dolphin are also known as Florida Mahi Mahi, and the average catch size will be 10 to 20 pounds, the largest are 20 to 30 pounds and bulls between 50 and 60 pounds have also been caught. Regarding the regulation of dolphinfish fishing in Florida, in Gulf State Waters there is no minimum size limit but in Atlantic State Waters the minimum size limit is 20″ fork length. In both cases there is a daily bag limit: 10 per person or 60 per boat, whichever is less.

Are you an expert in dolphinfish fishing?

Dolphinfish, dorado, mahi mahi… now that we know more about “the fish of a thousand names”, we can use all this information to appreciate more the details when we catch a mahi mahi. Share your catches on WeFish with the name that this species receives in your country, so that other users know more about these spectacular fish.

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