Discover the Largest Dolphin Fish Ever Caught in Florida

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Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Published: February 6, 2023

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Dolphin fish, also known as mahi-mahi, are common throughout the world. They are popular fish for cuisine and sport fishing. Due to a large dolphin fish population in Florida, anglers from all over the world travel to the Sunshine State to catch large dolphin fish. Keep reading to discover the largest dolphin fish ever caught in Florida, along with more fun facts about this unique fish.

About Dolphin Fish

Mahi mahi or dolphinfish

This beautiful fish has a compressed body with a single long-based dorsal fin.


Dolphin fish are native to tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, and they live about four to five years. They are very common in the Gulf of Mexico, Costa Rica, the Indian Ocean, and Hawaii. Its name, “Mahi-Mahi,” comes from the Hawaiian language and translates to “very strong”. Although it is called the dolphin fish, it is in no way related to the well-known sea mammal. Its conservation status is Least Concern.

Size and Appearance

Mahi-mahis are unique fish. They have compressed bodies with a single long-based dorsal fin that runs from their heads to their tails. Adult males are large with protruding foreheads, while females are smaller and have round heads. Typically, they grow between 15 to 29 pounds, rarely exceeding 33 pounds. They come in a host of vibrant colors, but they usually have golden and blue-green scales.


Dolphin fish are surface dwelling ray-finned fish. They grow quickly and eat a lot. As they grow, their calorie intake increases. Dolphin fish are opportunistic hunters who catch their prey using agility and speed. These vivid fish feed during the day, consuming young tuna, mackerel, octopus, jellyfish, squids, and crabs.


Mahi-mahis are easy prey for most animals. Large fish and aquatic mammals are common predators. Dolphin fish avoid their predators by camouflaging in the water and swimming to safety quickly at a high speed of 60 mph.

The Largest Dolphin Fish Caught in Florida

Fastest Water Animals

The largest dolphin fish caught in Florida weighed an impressive 81 pounds, far larger than the one pictured.


Some of the largest dolphin fish are found off the coast of Florida. The largest dolphin fish caught in Florida weighed an impressive 81 pounds. On June 9, 2007, Robert Vail caught this large specimen in Lantana, Florida. This dolphin fish was almost three times as large as the average size!

Florida has other amazing saltwater fishing records. For example, in 1990 Donald W. Bone caught a 113 pound and 6-ounce black grouper while fishing in Dry Tortugas, Florida. Another impressive record was set on February 17, 1975, when Gus Bell reeled in a 243-pound Tarpon in Key West, Florida.

Where Is Lantana Located on a Map?

Lantana is located in Palm Beach County and within the metropolitan area of Miami. It is west of Hypoluxo Island and around 37 miles north of Fort Lauderdale.

The Largest Dolphin Fish Ever Caught

On August 16, 1993, Tera Allegri caught an 82-pound, 2-ounce dolphin fish. Betty Ann Mehl also caught a large dolphin fish off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She used a custom rod with a 30-pound Ande pink line to reel in her 82-pound catch. During the weigh in, the dolphin fish stood taller than the record holder! However, the largest dolphin fish ever caught in the world weighed 87 pounds and was caught off the coast of Costa Rica.

Common Fish in Florida

Animals That Change Color - Hogfish

The hogfish is a common saltwater fish in Florida.

©Leonardo Gonzalez/

Florida is a hot spot for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Anglers from all over the world travel to Florida for its unique environments, including dark brackish swamp water and cold freshwater rivers. As long as you hold the right fishing license, you can fish anywhere that isn’t someone’s private property.

Freshwater fish are found everywhere in the state. They are most common in lakes, including Lake Tarpon, Lake Kissimmee, Lake Okeechobee, Lake Tohopekaliga, Lake Apopka, Orange Lake, Lake George, and Merritts Mill Pond. In these lakes, you can find many freshwater species, like Florida gar, channel catfish, bowfin, diamond killifish, spotted sunfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass.

Saltwater fishing is also a popular option, with anglers fishing from boats, piers, or directly off the coast. Common saltwater fish in Florida include tuna, swordfish, flounder, blacktip shark, hogfish, dog snapper, and blackfin snapper.

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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