Dorado is Spanish for "golden" and it reminds one of
El Dorado, the lost city of Gold, which is due to the conspicuous
coloring of this species. Dorado is also a constellation in the
Southern Sky that has a Large Magellanic Cloud surrounding it.
The Dorado - also known as Mahi-mahi and Dolphin
fish - is one of the most fun fish to catch in our oceans, their
greedy gregarious feeding habits along with the aerial acrobatics
when hooked up make this species a firm favourite amongst offshore
anglers, not to mention the fact that they also make good table
The name Mahi-mahi comes from Hawaii which means
"very strong" and I am quite certain that this derives from the
fight these fish give when hooked up.
Rapala X-Rap Splash Baits - Size 14
Medium size Konas
Dorado are surface dwellers and are found offshore
in temperate, tropical and subtropical waters all over the world,
they are an extremely fast growing species with an average lifespan
of around 5yrs, average sizes caught are from 6-15Kgs, they can get
larger with some fish reaching well over 20Kgs which are usually
bulls and are highly sought after by Sport anglers worldwide. These
fish often swim in small shoals when younger, and the mature ones
are usually found in pairs, so you can be sure if you catch a male
the female is right there close by.
Dorado will usually be around when water
temperatures reach 24°C and higher. They are known as an open water
species it is common that they are caught out in the deeper waters,
but these fish can also often be found near shallow reefs and even
right behind the breakers.
You will often find them hunting near shallow
pinnacles and ledges, colour lines, current lines, weed lines - and
one of my personal favorite places - is by floating debris. Off
Durban you will also find them at the FADS.
When you go out looking for Dorado you need to find
these types of places and you will most likely find Dorado.
They are not a difficult fish to hook up as they are
ravenous greedy predators that will eat just about anything that
moves from small to large, fast moving and slow moving, they like
bright colours and shiny things and so just about any lure will do
There are many lures that can be used, and I have
caught them on small spoons meant for Queen Mackerel right through
to large 12 inch Konas meant for Marlin so there is no saying which
lure is perfect for them, I will list some of my favourites which
have produced me many Dorado over the years.
My personal favourites are the shallow runners
Halco Laser Pros in the 160 size
Rapala X-Rap Splash Baits in size 14
Colours that I prefer are Pink, Red heads and
These can be trolled from 4 knots right through to
around 9 knots.
Halco Laser Pro 160s
I love using feathers for Dorado
Tuna Feathers work extremely well, just change the
Tuna hook to a single
Jet Feathers, specifically the Williamson ones
Small flash feathers
Colours that I prefer Blue/White, Red/White,
Black/Purple, Green/Yellow, Red/Black
These can be trolled from 6 knots right through to
around 12 knots.
Konas from 6 inch right through to 9 inch, with 8
inch being my favourite. Cup Faced Konas work like a charm off the
Slanted faced Konas are best off the corners, and
dont be scared to come in close, even as close as 5 meters
When trolling Konas I like to stick a large one far
back on the shot gun, typically I like to use a mould craft wide
Colours that I prefer Orange/Yellow, Black/Purple,
Blue/Pink, Blue/White, Red/Black
These can be trolled from 6 knots right through to
around 12 knots.
Lures like the Island lures are ideal for adding
strip baits, and 6 inch cupped faced lures like the Williamson
Sailfish Catcher are perfect for adding whole dead baits into your
Once you have a hook up and you are fighting the
fish, do not clear all your lines and never ever stop the boat, keep
it at least one motor engaged. I usually like to keep one of the
rigger lines and the shot gun out as far too many times you will get
the mate screaming off with one of these whilst you are fighting the
initial hook up.
Keep a spinning rod handy for pitch baits and once
you get your first fish close to the boat hold him there about 10m
away, rig up a dead sardine on the spinning rod and cast it out and
let this drift because if it was a shoal all the other Dorados will
be following that fish, only once this baited line goes on with a
fish do you bring in the initial fish, and you repeat this procedure
until there is no more action, often you can get another 5 or 6
Dorado once you have the initial hook up, but almost always you will
at least catch the mate.
Dead Baits and Live Baits
Feathers and Island Lures
Dorado loooove dead sardines and mackerel, these can
be fished in several ways, as mentioned above you can use sardines
to add some flavor to you Konas, and you can also troll them slowly
behind the boat, especially when you find floating debris, weed
lines and so on.
You can also fish these dead baits or live Mackerel
on the drift using balloons which keep baits close to the surface.
Where you keep close to a weed line or near debris
and - there is a fast current - there is no need to use balloons as
the speed alone will keep your baits up.
Drifting dead sardines and live mackerel like this
works extremely well when the North East wind is blowing. You can
also use spinning rods and cast these dead sardines at the weed
lines or debris whilst on the drift. For drifting dead baits I like
to use a leader of 0.8mm - 1.0mm and a narrow gauge J hook from 6/0
to 8/0 which you simply push through the eye sockets, and a 7/0
circle hook also works extremely well.
Again, once you have the 1st fish on, do not boat
him until you get the second hook up.
This method makes your boat into a FAD (Fish
Aggregating Device) all by itself and you will often find the Dorado
feeding right at the boat. Often using this method we have had 5 or
even 6 fish on at the same time.
Male and Female Dorado
To have a clear conscience after writing this
article, I have to include a little about handling these fish.
Dorado are bad tempered fish, and when hooked up fight like mad and
jump like crazy, once on board they go even crazier and if not dealt
with correctly can cause injury to those on the boat, especially
when chain gangs are involved.
The best thing to do is before you gaff the fish,
have a crew member open the fish hatch so when you gaff the fish,
you gaff and bring over board directly into the fish hatch in one
move and shut the door.
Bullfighting and keeping your wickets
A few years ago whilst fishing with some clients we
had a good day catching Snoek (Queen Mackerel), but now the Snoek
had gone quiet and so we made our way to the deep side of No.1 to do
some bottom fishing.
Before I even had the bottom rods ready we noticed
Dorado flashing by the boat, and so I changed the rigging and we
started pitching dead sardines, I remember that day very well
because we already had 11 Snoek onboard and we only had 19 sardines
on board and each one produced a Dorado.
The fishing was crazy mad and for most of the time
all 5 of us had a Dorado on and we were running around the centre
consul deck knitting whilst the fish who were trying their utmost to
tangle us up, we already had about 10 Dorado on board when one of
the guys hooked into a Big Bull of around 15Kgs and he really
tested the spinning tackle to its limits but eventually we got this
angry slapping ball of Dorado onto the boat.
Johan Putter with a nice Dorado caught at Coconut Bay
from a kayak
outdoors person who loves, respects, admires nature and
Gods creation with a passion, Mike has been fishing
since the age of 7yrs old where he started in Durban
harbour. With a special love for animals, especially
fish and birds, Mike collected Tropical marine fish and
kept an aquarium for many years, which he says taught
him a lot about fish behavior. Mike is in his sanctuary
when out on the water surrounded by nature, away from
the hustle and bustle. Visit his web site at
This was where the real fun began, because when I
gaffed him and swung this bad tempered fish overboard he wriggled
off the gaff landing on deck, 3 guys were still fighting their
Dorados and this bull decided to start flapping his way around the
deck chasing and slapping everyone on board, luckily the hook had
come out so there was no danger of this but we all got our fair
share of Dorado blood painting.
The beast was determined not to be caught and when at the bow he
tried to jump over board, to me there was no ways this fish was
going back and I pulled him back and sat on him, it was when I sat
on this Bull that he decided to snack on my family jewels rendering
me useless for several minutes!