- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
The common dolphinfish, or “dolphin,” is of no relation to the member of the porpoise family of mammals that carries the common name. The body of the dolphinfish is quite slender but fairly deep, with a noticeable tapering from head to tail. The male of the species is distinguished from the female by its high, vertical head. The anal fin has approximately 30 soft rays and stretches over half of the length of the body. The distinctive dorsal fin is long, covering almost three-fourths of the body, and has around 60 soft rays. The caudal fin is deeply forked and contains no spines.
Coloring, in general, is an iridescent blue or green in the dorsal area, a bluish or silvery gold on the lower flanks and a silvery white or yellow on the belly. The sides are dotted with dark and light spots, ranging from black or blue to golden. Dolphinfish frequently use their bright coloring to signal others in the school. For example, silver is a warning of impending danger.
While the greatest concentrations of dolphinfish are believed to be in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific, they are found worldwide in tropical and subtropical waters and warmwater currents. In the western Atlantic, they are seen as far north as Prince Edward Island and as far south as northern Brazil; from the Canary Islands to Angola in the east Atlantic; and from Oregon to Peru in the eastern Pacific.
Dolphinfish are a warm-water fish usually found in deep waters, close to the surface. While sometimes found in coastal waters, they often concentrate in the open ocean around floating objects such as buoys, driftwood and seaweed clusters. They are considered to be the most surface-oriented of all big-game fish. The younger fish are more prevalent in the warmer, near-shore waters in sargassum beds or other flotsam. Dolphinfish are migratory, with fish in both hemispheres moving away from the equator in spring and summer and toward the equator in fall and winter as the fish seek waters in the 70 to 75 F range.
It is common for dolphinfish to travel in very large schools and they have the ability to swim at speeds as high as 50 miles per hour.
Dolphinfish have the ability to breed during the first year of life. Spawning season begins in spring or early summer and continues for several months in the warmer waters. The female lays around 100,000 eggs, which are fertilized externally. Relatively little else is known about the development of the eggs.
Dolphinfish are known as voracious predators. While their favorite prey is the flying fish, they also consume squid, shrimp, crustaceans and even smaller dolphinfish. Using a keen sense of eyesight the dolphinfish locates most food near clumps of floating vegetation and objects. They tend to feed in pairs, small packs and schools. They are considered to be non-selective foragers, with the male taking proportionally more of the active, fast-swimming species than the female. Because they feed by sight, they are primarily daylight foragers.
The dolphinfish is considered one of the top offshore game fish and is highly sought after by anglers around the world. It is famous for its leaps and tail-walks over the surface when hooked. Because of their speed and agility, dolphinfish provide for an exciting catch as they run long and jump often.
Trolling artificial lures at high speeds is the predominant method. In some instances, unhooked live baits are pulled behind the boat to tease the fish in close, and then hooked baits, lures or flies are cast as the dolphinfish weave in and out. Rigged trolling baits on large hooks are also used, with flying fish, squid and mullet being common offerings.
Dolphinfish are popular light-tackle big game fish, and many anglers opt for medium-action spinning rods and line or leader weights as low as 6 pounds. Lines between 12 and 30 pounds are more common. Though most dolphin are easily landed on light tackle, the majority of them are caught with big-game trolling tackle equipped for much larger fish.
- Dolphinfish are prized because of their firm meat and delicate flavor. Annual harvests of the fish are estimated at 30,000 to 40,000 tons.
- Because of its durability, dried dolphinfish skin is sometimes used to make trolling lure skirts.
- The name dolphinfish does not imply a resemblance to the marine mammal.
Rather, the name was applied to dolphinfish because they have a tendency to follow boats in the wake of their bow like dolphins do.
- While they are almost at the top of the food web, dolphinfish are preyed upon by some larger species, including tuna and marlin.