Maryland Fish Facts



Coryphaena hippurus
A.K.A. mahi-mahi, dorado, dolphin
Key Distinguishing Markings:

  • Males have a prominent bony crest in front of the head
  • Iridescent gold, blue and green sides with white and yellow belly
  • Dorsal fin extending from eye to caudal fin
  • Pectoral fin more than half of head length

View the Dolphinfish Gallery
Dolphin (mahi-mahi) 


  • Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans
  • Tropical and subtropical waters
  • Highly migratory
  • Adults found in open waters while juveniles are coastal


  • Fast growing, live an average of 5 years
  • Maturity is reached from 12-36 in. which can be reached in 4-5 months
  • Fish can weigh up to 88 lbs.
  • Length can be up to 82 in.


  • Travel in schools
  • Venture in closer to shore when water temperatures rise
  • Preferred temperature: 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pelagic/neritic; can survive in depths up to 278 ft.


  • Prolific
  • Spawning in the Atlantic Ocean can occur year round
  • On the east coast of the United states, spawning occurs from April through July
  • Eggs and larvae are pelagic

Fishing Tips:

  • Attracted to floating objects like the brown macroalgae, Sargassum
  • Squid and crustaceans are natural prey
  • Best time to catch dolphin off Maryland is from June to September
  • Often caught when trolling for tuna or marlin using the same baits, often a small ballyhoo
  • Fishermen will leave one dolphinfish in the water to keep the school near the boat

Fun Fact:

  • Can reach swimming speeds estimated at 50 knots or 57 mph (SAFMC, 2017)
  • The International Game Fish Association World Record dolphin is 87 lbs caught in Papagayo Gulf, Costa Rica in 1976 (IGFA, 2017)
  • Maryland State Record: 67 lbs, 8 oz. Caught in 1985 by Kim Lawson, 53 miles off of Ocean City  http://dnr.maryland.gov/Fisheries/Pages/state-records.aspx

Family: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Class: Coryphaenidae (Dolphinfishes)

The Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery of the Atlantic was written by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in cooperation with the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC). The goal of the fishery management plan is to maintain the current harvest level of dolphin and insure that no new fisheries develop. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council fishery management plan addressed concerns about local abundance reductions, market disruption, user conflict, reduced social and economic benefits, bycatch, predator/prey relationships, and limited biological information (SAFMC, 2003).
State of Maryland commercial landings for 2015:              
14,977   total landed pounds, totaling $43,323 (NMFS, 2015)

Illustration by Diane Rome Peebles
Provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,
Division of Marine Fisheries Management​​