Scott’s Species – dolphinfish, fast-growing and stunning acrobats

In this week’s edition of Scott’s Species, Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan features the hard-fighting dolphinfish! With unmistakable striking colours, the acrobatic sportfish are a popular target at Recfishwest’s various fish aggregating devices (FADs) locations!

Species: Dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus

Eating: 4 stars

ID: Long dorsal fin along entire body, steep forehead, brilliant colouration.

Recfishwest’s Matt Gillett with a stunning dolphinfish!

There can be no mistaking dolphinfish, which are arguably the most stunning looking fish in the ocean and also one of the fastest growing.

In WA, their popularity growing with many fishers keen to hook into the hard-fighting sportfish. Mainly, this is because Recfishwest’s three-year State-wide FADs trial has created new dolphinfish fisheries at multiple locations along the WA coast.

The Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund-driven program is seeing FADs rolled out all across the State, with five locations already established and two more in the pipeline.

It means more WA anglers are encountering dolphinfish, also called mahi mahi, than even before.

They are a common catch off Perth at Recfishwest’s Perth FADs and also the Perth Game Fishing Club’s metro FADs, while excellent numbers were caught at Exmouth’s FADs this year.

Dollies were even caught off Albany last summer around the town’s new FADs.

They are the most common species caught around FADs, as they love to hang around floating surface structure in deep water in the open ocean.

They often turn up around FADs within days of them being deployed and will also follow surface debris.

Their colours are electric and almost seem impossible when you see them in the water.

They are found from the South West, and now south coast, across the top of the country to southern New South Wales.

Globally, they grow to more than 40kg, but the Australian record is just over 22kg and very few are caught at more than half that size in our waters.

Dollies are super fighters and offer a great light tackle fishing option in deep water.

They will hit trolled lures, such as minnows and skirts, and will also take soft plastics, stickbaits and poppers.

However, they can become cautious when the angling pressure is high and when this happens baits are the best option.

Some anglers also deploy stealth when approaching FADs, either cutting the motor well off and drifting onto them, or using an electric motor to approach.

Once hooked, dollies will often jump spectacularly, and also have good stamina.

While many dolphinfish are trolled up on heavy game tackle, light spinning gear is sufficient when specifically targeting them. Depending on the size of the fish, 5kg to 10kg line is usually sufficient.

Read more about how to best fish Recfishwest’s FADs here!

Dolphinfish are becoming a popular target species among more WA fishers! Credit: Luke Ryan / Tackle West