DOLPHIN (Coryphaena hippurus) OTHER NAMES: Dorado, Mahi Mahi RANGE: All offshore waters of Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Yellowish to metallic green to green-gold to dark blue with silvery markings. Has an elongated body with flattened sides. Male has high blunt forehead. Dorsal fin is long (runs body length) and tail is forked.
HABITAT: Dolphin ream the open sea in a continuous hunt for food. Anglers seek them along rafted weedlines and around any sort of large floating object. The location of schools may also be given away by feeding birds, particularly frigate birds.
DESCRIPTION: A blaze of blue and yellow or deep green and yellow when in the water, and sometimes shows dark vertical stripes as well when excited. Small dark spots on sides. Dorsal fin extends nearly from head to tail. Head is very blunt in males (bulls); rounded in females (cows). The Pompano Dolphin, Coryphaena equisetis, is often mistaken as a female or juvenile male Dolphin. It is found in most of the same waters, grows to about 5 pounds and can be distinguished by the rounded shape of the underbelly.
SIZE: Schooling fish run in similar sizes, from around a pound to nearly 20 pounds at times; larger fish are loners, or else pairsÐbull and cow. Big bulls often reach 50 pounds in weight and can exceed 80 pounds on rare occasion. Large cows generally top out at 40 pounds or so. World record 87 pounds; Florida record 77 pounds, 12 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: None better.
GAME QUALITIES: Top of the heap in any weight classÑspeedy. Strong and acrobatic. TACKLE AND BAITS: With the Dolphins, anything goes. Private-boat anglers seek to find a school by trolling or by running and searching for visual signs. Once a school is located, it can usually be kept around the boat by restrained chumming with cut bait and/or by keeping at least one hooked fish in the water at all times. A hot school will eagerly accept jigs and all sorts of casting baits, including flies and popping bugs. If strikes slow down, cut bait often does the trick. Big or wise fish may insist on live baits. Countless Dolphin are also caught, both by design and incidentally, on the entire gamut of rigged trolling baits and artificial trolling lures.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Trolling.