South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Dolphin

Dolphin

Dolphin

Coryphaena hippurus, dorado, mahi mahi
Recreational
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
Commercial
All areas are open for commercial fishing.

The dolphin fish has bright turquiose, green and yellow patterns, which fade almost immediately upon death. This species may be distinguished from the pompano dolphin by its 55-66 dorsal fin rays, and a very wide and square tooth patch on the tongue. The body tapers sharply from head to tail; irregular blue or golden blotches scattered over sides; anterior profile of head on adult males is nearly vertical; head of females more sloping; the single dark dorsal fin extends from just behind the head to the tail; anal fin margin concave and extending to tail.

Dolphin are fast growing, prolific and have a short life span – an average of 5 years. Average fork lengths for males and females ranges from 34 to 55 inches. Males grow faster and usually live longer than females. The spawning season varies with latitiude. Dolphin collected in the Florida Current spawned from November through July, and those collected from the Gulf Stream near North Carolina were reproductively active during June and July. Small females may spawn 240 thousand pelagic eggs, and fish larger than 43 inches may spawn several million. Dolphin are attracted to Sargassum, a floating brown algae, which serves as a hiding place and source of food. Other sources of food associated with the Sargassum include small fish, crabs, and shrimp. Dolphin reach swimming speeds estimated at 50 knots and may also pursue fast -swimming fish, such as flying fish or mackerels. Often man made garbage is entangled in the floating Sargassum, and is consumed by dolphin. Plastic wrappers, small light bulbs, rope and string have all been removed from the stomachs of dolphin.

Regulations

NC

  • Season is currently open.
  • 10 Bag Limit
  • 54 Vessel Limit
  • Notes: Effective May 2nd 2022, the recreational vessel limit for dolphin is 54 fish (excluding headboats). The 10 dolphin per person per day recreational bag limit will remain unchanged for all recreational vessels (private, charter vessels, and headboats). See Fishery Bulletin

    Must be landed with head and fins intact. Minimum size limit only applies in waters off Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. If you are bringing fish back to the U.S. from the Bahamas by water, please see Bringing fish back from the Bahamas.

    ———- Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats:

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information, see: Dolphin Regulations

SC, GA, FL

  • Season is currently open.
  • 10 Bag Limit
  • 54 Vessel Limit
  • Min. Size: 20 in Fork Length
  • Notes: Effective May 2nd 2022, the recreational vessel limit for dolphin is 54 fish (excluding headboats). The 10 dolphin per person per day recreational bag limit will remain unchanged for all recreational vessels (private, charter vessels, and headboats). See Fishery Bulletin

    Must be landed with head and fins intact. Minimum size limit only applies in waters off Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. If you are bringing fish back to the U.S. from the Bahamas by water, please see Bringing fish back from the Bahamas.

    ———- Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats:

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information, see: Dolphin Regulations

Amendments in progress

  • Dolphin Wahoo Regulatory Amendment 3

    includes actions that would increase the applicable geographic range of the 20” FL minimum size limit for dolphin, modify bag and vessel limits for dolphin, and reduce or remove captain and crew bag limits of dolphin.

    Pre-scoping

Contact