Dolphin are marine fish of the family Coryphaenidae. Most dolphin caught off of south Florida are common dolphin, dolphinfish of the species Coryphaena hippurus. Often mistaken as female or common dolphin schoolies, we also catch the dolphin species Coryphaena equiselis, pompano dolphin. Pompano dolphin can be distinguished by their large and squarish tooth patch, thicker bodies, and lesser number of rays in their dorsal fins. Pompano dolphin are more oceanic than common dolphin and not found as near inshore.
The species are found mixed in schools. All dolphinfish are fast growing with a maximum lifespan of 4 years. Common dolphin have a population doubling rate of less than 15 months. Pompano dolphin have a population doubling rate of 1.4 to 4.4 years. Young male and female dolphinfish grow at similar rates; however, in adulthood Male dolphinfish grow larger than females. Common dolphinfish grow to a maximum recorded length of 82.7 inches and weight of 88 pounds. Pompano dolphinfish grow to a maximum recorded length of 50 inches. Dolphinfish reach sexual maturity early, being reproductive in only 4 to 5 months and at only 8 inches in length. Dolphinfish are found year round in the waters off Florida. Common dolphinfish are generally found in waters of 656 feet or less. Small dolphinfish school together and are often called schoolies. Larger dolphinfish live alone or in pairs. Dolphin are usually found on the surface and follow anything floating, particularly Sargasso weed lines. Not selective feeders dolphin feed mainly on bony fish, crabs, squid, and anything inhabiting Sargassum weed lines. Dolphinfish are found year round off Florida but their numbers, particularly of larger fish are greatest in the summer. A prey item for yellowfin tuna, marlin, swordfish, and sailfish dolphin are a regular by-catch as well as a great game fish to target specifically in trips out of Miami, Key West, and the Bahamas.