BACK to Nearshore Marine Fish Research Program

Sportfish Profiles

Dorado (Coryphaena hippurus)


Written by: Dr. Larry G. Allen

Dorado have to be the most beautiful of all pelagic (open ocean) fishes. In an environment which normally favors dark-blue backs and silvery sides, dorado shamelessly brandish neon blue, dazzling green, and brilliant golden hues which they can flash almost at will (dorado is Spanish for gold). Add to this their tendency to become aerial acrobats when hooked and you have one exciting fish to catch. Oh, by the way, they are also one of the greatest tasting fish in the sea (usually sold under the Hawaiian name mahi mahi). Here is a brief summary of what we know about these wonderful fish.

SCIENTIFIC NAME - Coryphaena hippurus, family Coryphaenidae (dolphinfishes)

COMMON NAMES - dolphinfish, mahi mahi, dorado (Mexico)

DISTRIBUTION - World-wide in subtropical and tropical seas. Off North America, dorado have been taken from Gray's Harbor, Oregon to Chile, but are rarely found in water less than 68oF.

SIZE & AGE - To 6.5 feet and 87 pounds. The dorado is among the fastest growing of all fishes. A six month old fish off Hawaii is about 28 inches long. By the age of one year dorado can be 4 feet long! The huge "bull' dorado in the 60 to 80 pound range appear to be no more than four years old.

DIET - small fishes and squid.

REPRODUCTION - Both male and female dorado mature well before their first birthday at about 24 inches in length. In tropical waters spawning occurs throughout the year. In subtropical and temperate areas spawning is restricted to warm water months.

FISHERY - Southern California sport anglers encounter dorado most readily during warm water years, especially El Nino years when fish actually enter the waters off southern California. In most years, the sport fleet targets dorado associated with floating kelp patties in the waters off northern Baja in the late summer and fall. Baja anglers are likely to encounter dorado up to 80 pounds just about anytime from Bahia de Los Angeles south to Cabo San Lucas.

NMFRP logo| Contact Us | ©2007 CSUN/NMFRP| Last updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 1:15 PM