Mahi Mahi Fish: Catching and Understanding Mahi Mahi Fishing in Costa Rica 2023

Mahi Mahi, also known as el dorado, is renowned in Costa Rica for its vibrant green and yellow colors and large dolphin-like head. This fast, eel-like fish provides an exhilarating catch for anglers of all experiences.

If you are looking to catch Mahi Mahi in Costa Rica, but don’t want to worry about choosing the perfect location or getting the right equipment, book a Mahi Mahi fish charter trip with Capullo Sportfishing Charter, located in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica.

For more information call: +1 506-8569-3516

 From US or Canada you have to dial +11 506 8569 3516

Table of Contents

What is a mahi mahi fish?

Mahi-mahi is a fish species known for its dazzling colors and is highly sought after for sport fishing and commercial purposes. The name mahi-mahi comes from the Hawaiian language and means ‘very strong’. In Spanish, it’s referred to as “dorado”. In Malta, it’s called “lampuka”, and in Sicily, it’s known as “lampuga” or “capone”. The mahi-mahi is also referred to as the common dolphinfish, but it’s not related to dolphins. They belong to the family Coryphaenidae

What does a mahi mahi fish look like?

Mahi-mahi have compressed, slightly slender bodies with a single long-based dorsal fin that extends from the head almost to the tail. Mature males are distinguished by their prominent, protruding foreheads, while females have rounded heads. Their sides are golden, and their backs display a mix of dazzling greens and bright blues. Additionally, their pectoral fins are iridescent blue, and they are known to change colors when taken out of the water.

What is the size of a mahi mahi fish?

Mahi-Mahis typically weigh between 7 to 13 kg (15 to 29 lb) and measure about a meter in length. They have a total length between 33”-55” (84-140 cm), body height of 6.5”-10.5” (16.5-26.7 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 15-40 lb (7-18 kg). They rarely exceed 15 kg (33 lb), and those over 18 kg (40 lb) are exceptional.

Where can mahi mahi fish be caught?

Mahi-mahi can be found worldwide, including the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, West Africa, Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, and Tahiti.

What are the best places to catch mahi mahi fish in Costa Rica?

Mahi-mahi, also known as Dolphinfish, are blue-water, open-ocean fish that typically swim near the surface of the ocean. They are highly migratory and can be found at depths up to 85 meters, but more commonly around 37 meters. During spring and summer, especially after storms, mahi-mahi, which are typically found offshore, can move closer to the shore.

In places like Costa Rica, they have been observed less than 10 miles offshore, making them accessible for inshore fishing.

Do you need a boat to catch mahi mahi fish in Costa Rica?

Yes, especially when fishing near the edge of the reef. Fishing charters are recommended, but kayaks might also be used.  Having a specialized boat can also improve the odds of a successful catch. Contact Capullo Sportsfishing Charter and uncover the best mahi mahi fishing spots off of the Guanacaste coast.


What is the best time to catch mahi mahi in Costa Rica?

The best season to catch mahi mahi in Costa Rica coincides with the rainy season, spanning from May to November. Within this timeframe, the peak months for fishing these vibrant fish are from May to October. Anglers often find the most success during the early hours of the morning and in the late afternoon, which are generally the prime fishing times for a variety of species, mahi mahi included. Additionally, overcast days accompanied by light rain tend to be particularly productive. This is because mahi mahi frequently swim near the surface during such weather conditions, making them more accessible to fishermen.


How to catch a mahi mahi fish?

There are many methods anglers can use to catch the Mahi Mahi fish. Some are listed below:

  • Trolling with lures or dead bait
  • Fly fishing
  • Casting with lures or live bait
  • Jigging
  • Live baiting


What is the best technique to catch mahi mahi in Costa Rica?

Trolling with lures or dead bait, especially around floating debris like sargassum, logs, and buoys is the most common and effective technique in Costa Rica.


What bait to use to catch a mahi mahi fish?

  • Live Bait: Tuna, ballyhoo, and garrita keg are effective.
  • Artificial: Various lures designed for trolling in offshore waters.
  • How to Bait a Hook: For live bait, hook through the nose or dorsal area ensuring the bait remains lively. For dead bait like ballyhoo, ensure it’s rigged to swim naturally.


What gear do you need to catch a mahi mahi?

Listed below is general gear you need to catch a Mahi Mahi fish:

  • Rod & Reel: Heavy-duty fishing rods and reels suitable for offshore trolling.
  • Line: Strong fishing line, often braided for its strength-to-diameter ratio.
  • Bait & Tackle: tuna, ballyhoo, garrita keg, trolling lures
  • Hooks: Circle or J-hooks depending on the bait and technique.

It’s important to note that the cost of all this equipment can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Opting for a charter can save you money as they provide all the necessary equipment and expertise.


Do mahi mahi have a strong bite when you hook them?

Yes, mahi mahi are known for their strong fight and acrobatic jumps when hooked.

Does Costa Rica allow you to keep mahi mahi fish once caught?

Costa Rica generally allows anglers to keep mahi mahi, but it’s essential to check current regulations. Catch and release is encouraged for conservation, especially for larger breeding females.

How to release mahi mahi fish back into the water safely?

Handle the fish as little as possible, using wet hands or gloves. Use a dehooking tool to remove the hook without bringing the fish onboard. Gently hold the fish underwater, facing into the current, until it revives and swims away.

Capullo boats in Tamarindo.


How fast does a mahi mahi fish swim?

Mahi-mahi can swim as fast as 50 knots (92.6 km/h, 57.5 mph).

Where do mahi mahi fish breed?

Mahi-mahi breeds in warm ocean currents throughout much of the year.

Are mahi mahi fish endangered?

No, but local populations can be affected by overfishing.

Do mahi mahi fish like warm water?

Yes, mahi-mahi larvae are found in waters at 28 °C/83 °F year-round.

How long do mahi mahi live for?

Mahi-mahi can live for up to five to seven years.

Can you eat mahi mahi after it’s caught in Costa Rica?

Yes, mahi mahi is a delicacy known for its firm, white flesh and is commonly consumed in various dishes.

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