For this installment we thought we’d talk about the mahi-mahi also known as dorado and dolphinfish. They get their name from the Hawaiian language which means “strong-strong” or extra strong and don’t let dolphinfish confuse you – they are in no way related to our mammal dolphin friends. We are currently in the height of our mahi mahi season so study up and get ready for your charter!
The mahi-mahi is well known for putting up a good fight at the end of line, dancing and jumping as the angler works to get him to the back of the boat! They are also known for the brilliant neon blues, greens and yellows they display on their flanks and for providing a delicious reward.
This beautiful fish is a pelagic species which is found in the open ocean – usually close to the surface. They are warm water lovers, most often found in waters ranging from 70 – 85 degrees fahrenheit. When in season, mahi can almost always be found hanging around seaweed drifts and floating objects such as buoys, driftwood and more. Mahi mahi have compressed bodies with spectacular blue and green dorsal fins extending almost the entire length of their bodies. Males and females are easily distinguished as mature males, or bulls, have large protruding foreheads while females, or cows, are smaller with rounded heads. They are among the fastest growing pelagic species in the ocean, spawning as young as 4-5 months old and two to three times a year in warm ocean currents. Living up to just 5 years, an exceptional fish can weigh up to 50lbs, however, 15 to 35lbs is the more common range seen here in Turks and Caicos. They can swim up to 60 mph as a result of their long, slender anatomy.
Mahi feed predominately on flying fish, crabs, squid, mackerel and other forage fish. As sportfishermen (and women) we love the mahi mahi not only because of their beauty, size and how good they taste, but also because they have a healthy population. On Panoply, our team is cognizant of the fact that to maintain healthy populations, young fish should be given the opportunity to mature and spawn. As a result, when fishing with us you may reel in a ‘peanut’ (as we call them), in which case we’ll put the little guy back and try for some bigger fare.
When we head out fishing for mahi we are always looking for floating debris, seaweed drifts, current lines and our ally – the frigatebird. If spotted, our experienced crew can tell what species are most likely being hunted just by watching the friagetbird’s behaviour! Once on the line, mahi mahi are quick, darting left to right as the angler fights. They also dance on the surface, often treating guests to spectacular jumps and flips as they display their acrobatics. Once back at the dock, First Mate Trish will skillfully filet and dress your catch ready to go straight to the grill and then onto your plate. We prefer our mahi with a bit of lemon and butter and perhaps a touch of dill served with peas and rice and some veggies on the side!