Whatever you call them, Mahi-mahi, Dorado or dolphin, there’s no denying that they are one of the most tastiest, most beautiful and one of the feistiest fish in the sea. In fact, the term Mahi-mahi is Hawaiian meaning strong-strong. However, the term dolphin can be misleading. No mistake, the Mahi-mahi is not a mammal, but is indeed an egg laying, cold blooded fish.
The mahi-mahi or common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus)
Mahi are easily recognizable by their vibrant colors and unique shape. Their bodies are tall and narrow with a dorsal fin that travels nearly the entire length of their body with a large heavily forked tail fin. The males have a tall, flat head, while the females and smaller fish have a rounded shaped head. Most fish are an electric blue and green with spots of each color splattered across their backs. Mahi can reach upwards of 5 feet and weight up to 40 lbs., although weights within the 15 to 30 lb. range are average.
These beautiful fish can be found in tropical and sub-tropical waters throughout the world. Water temps within the mid 60s to 80s are prime Mahi habitat. They are a rapidly growing fish that feeds primarily on small fish, crustaceans, squid and even sargassum grass. They tend to stick closer to the surface and thus when targeting Mahi-mahi, look for floating grass or debris. There’s a good chance you’ll find a fish or two. Young fish tend to school up in order to help protect themselves from predators, but the larger they grow; the less you will tend to find them schooling.
Trolling is the most popular way to catch Mahi, but jigging and casting are also excellent ways to target Mahi. Ballyhoo makes for great bait when trolled, and typically the size of your bait dictates the size of fish you are targeting. Remember, big bait equals big fish. Once you’ve found fish, throwing a chunk of Ballyhoo on a circle hook is a great way to increase your chances of hooking and landing that fish. Once hooked, Mahi are ferocious fighters, especially on light tackle, and will often times display high flying acrobatics. Mahi tend to travel around in schools with other fish of the same size, so once you hook into one, there are bound to be more. Here’s a tip: Before you land a hooked Mahi, leave it in the water until someone else hooks up, this will bring the school closer to the surface and keep the feeding frenzy alive. Continue this process until you’ve had your fun or the cooler is full.
Mahi also makes for great table fare. The firm, mild flavored white meat is considered a complete protein meaning that it contains all of the amino acids. A 3 ounce serving contains 93 calories and contains essential vitamins and nutrients, including B-vitamins and Iron. The firm meat makes Mahi a great choice in a variety of dishes. It holds up well to baking and grilling and is a popular choice in fish tacos.