Salminus brasiliensis

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Dourado(Salminus brasiliensis)emBonito.jpg
Salminus brasiliensis.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Characidae
Genus: Salminus
Species: S. brasiliensis
Binomial name
Salminus brasiliensis
(G. Cuvier, 1816)

Salminus cuvieri Valenciennes, 1850
Salminus maxillosus Valenciennes, 1850
Salminus orbignyanus Valenciennes, 1850

Salminus brasiliensis (dorado, golden dorado or jaw characin) is a large river fish found in central and east-central South America. Despite having Salminus in its name, the dorado is not related to any species of salmon, nor to the saltwater fish also called dorado. It is very popular among recreational anglers and supports large commercial fisheries.


The golden dorado has a large head, with powerful jaws filled with sharp teeth. It reaches maturity around 37 cm (15 in) long, and is golden colored. The average size of the golden dorado is about 3–10 kg (6.6–22.0 lb). The largest recorded size is 100 cm (39 in) length and 31.4 kg (69 lb).[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The golden dorado lives in warm freshwater habitats in southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, and northern Argentina, in the river basins of the Paraguay, Uruguay, Chapare, and Mamoré Rivers, and the drainage of the Lagoa dos Patos.[1] The dorado is considered an endangered species in Paraguay, so a five-year fishing ban was put into effect there.[2] Other South American river basins hold relatives of this species: S. franciscanus in the São Francisco Basin, S. hilarii in the upper Paraná, Amazon and Orinoco basins, and S. affinis in the Santiago and Magdalena basins in Ecuador and Colombia.

"Dorado", both in the name of the fish and other uses such as the El Dorado legend, originates from the Latin word for gold, auratus (later modified into dauratus in Vulgar Latin, and subsequently oro in Spanish and ouro in Portuguese).


Golden dorados are piscivores, eating a wide variety of prey fish. One of the dorado's favorite prey is the sabalo, a type of schooling fish typically 1–4 kg (2–9 lb) in weight. They also actively prey for several species of Astyanax, also known as lambari, within these especially A. altiparanae, A. bimaculatus, and A. fasciatus, as well as fishes from the Gymnotidae family, genus Gymnotus and known in Brazil as tuvira or sarapó. Its preference for the two mentioned groups dictate generally the shapes and colors of lures and flies made for dorado.


The golden dorado is highly sought-after by anglers, both for its delicious taste and fighting ability. The aggressive nature of the dorado, its high jumps, and great fighting strength and stamina have created a great competitive market among anglers from all corners of the world, traversing South American waters in hopes of hooking a dorado.

Dorado caught with fly tackle - São Paulo state, Brazil

Ultimately, the dorado has been more and more recognized as a fly-fishing targeted species. Its aggressive behavior, fast runs, impressive strength, and brave fighting - frequently going airborne in the attempt to loosen itself from the hook, make this species a must-fish for fly fishermen.

Most effective flies comprehend Clouser Deep Minnows, Andino Deceiver, Lefty's Deceiver, Poppers and other minnow-imitating flies. Equipments used range from #6 to #10, depending on the size of the average fishstock. This fish usually takes flies both on surface and sub-surface. It is common the use of Intermediate and Sinking-Tip fly lines in places with fast current, preferred by this species.

The fly must be worked with long, slow pulls. The Dorado though being an avid hunter, also is a lazy chaser. So, if the fly moves too fast or with short, fast movements the Dorado can just skip attacking.

Flies tied for dorado usually contain lots of flash. This fish likes shiny, colorful flies or black ones when the water is muddy or turbid. In the State of São Paulo, Brazil, clousers tied in white and blue deliver the best results.

Dorado caught in a blue/white clouser minnow

Due to the Dorado's very sharp teeth, it is very recommended that the angler uses a steel wire or a good piece of fluorocarbon monofilament bite tippet, to avoid losing the fish and the lure.

Culinary preparation[edit]

Golden Dorados are excellent to eat and are often barbecued with tomatoes and bell peppers. Often utilized in the making of fish soups they are also popularly fried in South America. The Dorado has a white flaky flesh with a notably high fat content.


  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2011). "Salminus brasiliensis" in FishBase. October 2011 version.
  2. ^ Law Number 3191/07, Which prohibits the fishing, extraction, collecting and stocking for ulterior commercialization of the species Salminus maxillosus, of common name Dorado fish. (MS Word Document) (In Spanish). Retrieved on 20 November 2010.