Mahi Mahi / Dorado Fishing Overview

A fast swimmer, great fight on the line, incredible coloring & photo oportunities, great taste, superb reproduction skills, catchable all over the world. We could go on, but we think you get the point....

Recent Reviews

We had great trip! Matt and Taylor worked really hard to make sure we had a wonderful experience. Highly recommend!

Kimberly T. with Matthew Champion of Destin, Florida

It was great even though we had a little bad weather. The Captain was awesome and put use on fish right when we left. The deck hand was great and helped everyone out and kept us going. I would so use them again and again.

JAMES C. with Harold Staples of Destin, Florida

Raul and Captain Pepe were awesome! Captain Pepe is one of the best fishermen I've ever fished with and often fishes in large tournaments. We caught a marlin and mahi-mahi and later got the mahi-mahi prepared to eat at a restaurant. The only critique is Captain Pepe's English wasn't very good if you weren't talking about fishing, but regardless he knew everything there is to know about fishing. Highly recommend.

Nicolas P. with Raul Solis of Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur

Our trip with Gulf Bay charters with Captain Rick and his first rate deckhand Logan was fantastic. They put us on multiple fish of different types and we tried different methods, some trolling, a lot of bottom fishing and some deep water with electric reels. We caught a lot of large triggerfish, three King mackerels and enough Mingo (vermillion) snapper that we had far too much fish to eat over the next two days. The boat was fantastic, offering the six of us more than enough space to spread out and all fish at once, and Logan was knowledgeable and efficient at everything. I really enjoyed catching a small shark and we had a larger one steal some of our fish to add a little excitement. Near the end of the day we had a large amberjack up to the boat but unfortunately he got off. We played with a few barracuda as well, caught a few snapper and small groupers that we couldn't keep and in between spots, we could chat and I enjoyed learning about the local waters and the trade. I personally caught 22 fish and my son got 21 so we were busy. The weather was near perfect and Rick adeptly steered us around a small storm, where we got to see a waterspout. I would highly recommend Gulf Bay - we had a blast and really enjoyed getting to learn from a couple of true professionals. Thank you Captain Rick, thank you Logan!

mike c. with Rick Durant of Pensacola, Florida

Our 6-hour in-shore fishing trip with Captain Billy was such a great time! He's definitely done his fair share of charters and we were lucky enough to catch quite a few fish. He followed all sizing restrictions and made sure we were on fish at every spot we went to. After, he showed us the proper way to clean fish. We will most definitely do another charter with him in the future.

ILEANA W. with Bill Perkins of Jacksonville, Florida

We had a great time with Nick. I love when a guide is so determined to get you on the fish that they’re almost stressed when they’re not biting. Nick refused to allow the fish to hide. He busted his butt to get everyone to their red snapper limit and we even ended up fishing a bit over the time we had allotted to make sure we had our best shot. We had a blast, and I would definitely recommend Nick. We’re going home with a cooler full of snapper, so that’s a win!

Brad L. with Nick Tate of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Absolutely, hands down the BEST experience!! Captain Lee and crew were awesome, fun, and great with the boys!! If you don’t go with this crew, you are missing out.

Jodye S. with Lee Crisler of Galveston, Texas

My family and I had an awesome time with. Capt. Phil. The boat was clean and no fishy smell. He took us to a spot that has non stop action catching mahi mahi Dophin and a barracuda. He was friendly, super chill and an expert at sea. My kids love him. We definitely will ring him up next time we're in key west. Thank you! We had a blast at sea today.

Mimi L. with Mark Baumgarten of Key West, Florida

Captain Casey was very professional and knowledgeable. His 2 crew were very experienced, and his boat is a fishing machine. On our full day charter we experienced bad weather and had to cut the trip short. A minor leak in a tranny hose kept us from traveling at full speed on our return to the marina, so it took a little longer than expected. Casey offered us a free half day trip the following day, which i thought was a very professional way to handle this. Based on our short time in Cabo we couldnt take him up on this, so he reduced my fee to a half day charter. Again a very professional way to handle this. We didnt catch the fish we hoped for, but i have no issues with booking with Casey on my next trip to Cabo.

Dave E. with Casey Carter of Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur

Excellent trip with Captain Donnie! An experience every sportsman needs. Tails Up/Sea Cruiser will be my only go to when fishing out of Venice. Donnie is a true professional and will make sure you get on the fish no matter what it takes. His new Contender is a battle wagon and he and his crew are second to none.

Brad H. with Donnie Jackson of Venice, Louisiana

Everything You Need to Know About Mahi Mahi / Dorado Fishing

What is a Mahi Mahi / Dorado?

The fish of many names. Alternatively (and confusingly) called mahi, dolphin, or dorado, this tasty fish is not at all to be confused with what many a layperson would classically consider a dolphin (which are highly intelligent aquatic mammals that breathe air and are not hunted). The dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) is a fast-growing fish found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters. Mahi-mahi are known for their distinct look which we’ll get into later, but suffice it to say they are one of the most recognizable saltwater species out there.

The name mahi-mahi is Hawaiian in origin and quite literally means “strong-strong” - a pound for pound heavy hitter. The name dorado is commonly used on the coast of Africa and near to Spain, while how the fish came to be associated as a dolphin is less clear.

What is clear is that these beautiful fish are prized around the world. They have extremely fast lifecycles, meaning they reach reproductive age quickly and grow quickly, and therefore are great to catch and eat relative to other species as there is little long-term impact on their populations.

Mahi are distinct in both their shape and coloring. They are truly a fish made to swim fast (up to 50 knots): sleek with compressed bodies and a single long dorsal fin extending mot of their body. You can tell females from males because cows have a low, rounded head while mature bulls have giant foreheads (look up some pictures, you’ll see what we mean). They are set apart from other fish by their iridescent coloring ranging from bright neon green and gold to all shades of blue to silver. However be warned, when fishing for mahi you need to take a picture within seconds of getting the fish out of the water, because these fish are known to fade in minutes into a muted grey color when they die. 

How big do Mahi Mahi / Dorado get?

Mahi-mahi can live for about 4-5 years, and rarely grow bigger than about 30 pounds although it can happen. Females generally max out at around 20-25 pounds and males around 30-35 and about 3-5 feet in length.

As mentioned above they can be sexually active within a year and often within 6 months, so they are reproductive beasts. Mahi as small as 8 inches can be reproductive, and females can spawn 2-3 times in one year, producing tens of thousands of eggs per event. Since mahi live in warm climates, spawning can occur year-round. All of this together makes them truly one of the most prolific fish in the sea.

Whats the biggest Mahi Mahi / Dorado ever caught?

While above we told you that most bull mahi are no bigger than 35 or so pounds, we lied. You’d be lucky to beat those numbers, but there are a few lucky anglers who have gone far above and beyond, scoring fish upwards of 70 and even 80 pounds. The current all-tackle world record mahi mahi is 87 pounds and this massive record dorado was caught all the way back in 1976 off the coast of Costa Rica. A number of impressive fish have been caught since but none have been able to beat this record. In 2015 an alleged 102 pound unofficial fish was caught off Cabo San Lucas, but the fish was never officially weighed, so unfortunately this one can’t be verified.

Where is the best place to catch Mahi Mahi / Dorado?

If you want a chance at the record, your best bet is one of these 5 locations: Panama, Cabo San Lucas, Florida, the Bahamas, or Costa Rica. Mahi are found worldwide in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters and are commonly sought in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Central America, Hawaii, and in the Indian Ocean.

Mahi mahi spawn in warm ocean currents and their young (and often adults) are found in floating bunches of sargassum and other floating weeds and debris, feeding on small critters. Dorado are surface-dwellers and while they are found over deep water, are often near the surface. They run in schools while younger and are often fairly easy to spot due to their coloration and the way they shimmer in the water. If you want a big bull though, he will often run solo.

Mahi mahi are also a great bycatch when cruising for other pelagics such as marlin and wahoo. You will generally find mahi in the same areas and be able to land one or two as a nice test run for your big billfish.

When should I catch Mahi Mahi?

In the gulf coast and Florida, the best time for mahi mahi is generally April through June and can be found in good numbers throughout the summer, but they are really a year-round fish many places depending on the water temperature. More specifically, they are great to catch immediately after storms because the debris spread out by the storm will concentrate the fish.

In the US there are not many state or federal bag limits for mahi mahi, mainly because they are so fast to reproduce there are few concerns about depleting the population. In the Atlantic there is a 20 inch minimum.  

How do you catch Mahi Mahi?

Now that we’ve told you all about dorado, let's help you catch one. There are generally two strategies here: trolling and sight-casting. You can catch mahi while trolling in two ways, some people will target them specifically, while some will catch them while looking for bigger targets (like a marlin). This is why you always want a few different setups in your spread - you never know what fish will popup beneath you (or more common for the surface-dwelling mahi, around you).

Even if you are trolling, you always want to make sure you have a few spinning reels setup for when you spot some action nearby. Woe is the angler who sees a big bull mahi but has nothing to cast. This also adds some excitement to the day and breaks up a big day of trolling with some sight casting. Many anglers will say that hooking mahi mahi while trolling is generally not fun, because the tackle is usually more geared towards a bigger fish and the mahi won’t stand a chance. Most anglers consider a lighter tackle spinner to be more of a sportfishing fight.

You’ll commonly find mahi near flotsam, and you can cast into them right away (some prefer to chum nearby first). You can chuck bait near the flotsam and leave the bail open so that the bait sinks and the mahi can find it. Mahi mahi are not known to be very bright, and will generally take the bait and respond quickly and enthusiastically to lures and bait. When reeling, mahi are fast - don’t let them take all your line out before its too late.

Are Mahi Mahi good to eat? What are the best Mahi Mahi recipes?

Mahi mahi is known as one of the true treats of the sea, and if you head out for some everyone knows you are coming home and inviting your friends and family for a nice grilled fish dinner. Their flesh is grey-white when raw, and cooks to a nice clean white that is known to not taste particularly fishy (partially due to young age). This means the fish is also attractive to some who might often say they “don’t like the taste of fish”. The most common way to prepare it is grilled; we suggest fish tacos.