Men loose their reasoning ability with multiple fish on. Every angler is sure his fish is the biggest and is equally sure his fish is the one that will get off. It can be a harrowing experience. But, I welcome every single opportunity like that. Wouldn't miss it for the world!
Every year from late spring through the summer up to "dog days", dolphin are abundant in and around the Gulf Stream on the East Coast. I have seen them close to shore, over the South Florida reefs in 90 feet of water, but most of the time, they run the warm waters of the stream.
Back in the 60's and 70's it was not uncommon for boats to bring in literally hundreds of dolphin from a day of fishing. Of course this was the "pre-limit" years. Most of these fish were sold to local fish markets, but still, lots of them went ot waste. Today limits prevent a virtual slaughter.
Dolphin are a fast growing fish, reaching maturity in as little as six months. They are thought to live only about 5 years, which is not very long considering the size they attain. Fish in the 50 to 60 pound range are not uncommon.
Our method for catching dolphin is quite simple. Head offshore with lots of ballyhoo for bait. I always rig my own ballyhoo, its a lot cheaper that way! Several rigged baits are always coiled with their leader, ready to tie on at a moments notice.
I troll between 5 and 8 knots (actually between 1800 and 2200 rpm on my engine), enough speed to skip the flatlined baits, but not enough to tear them up.
I look for two things early on - either the old faithful weedline, or sea birds. Diving birds mean fish, not always dolphin, but where there's smoke, as they say. One of my favorite birds to follow is the frigate bird. With his long sleek body, forked tail, and wide wing span, he stays aloft for hours, most often many miles from land.
I have proven to myself and others, that frigate birds follow schools of fish. In the clear blue ocean water, fish, particularly large fish or a school of fish, can easily be seen from overhead. The birds float on the wind and follow the school, waiting for an easy meal during a feeding frenzy. I have caught many large bull and cow dolphin by trolling under a sailing frigate.
Flotsam in the water is something you do not want to miss. Anything that can provide shade - a board, a log, a bale, anything that floats - will usually have one or two dolphin hanging right underneath. They are usually a pair, one bull and one cow, and they are usually large.
Weedlines can be miles long, and on any given Saturday off of South Florida, I can find a flotilla of boats in single file, all trolling the same weedline. Believe it or not, they usually all catch fish.
When a fish is brought to boatside, others following it means a school of fish is present. Being faithful to their kin, dolphin will not leave the hooked fish. So put the rod with the first fish in the rod holder, and let him swim right under the boat. Then break out the casting and spinning gear and get ready for some fun! On some days, they will actually hit a piece of white paper (of course there are days they won't eat anything!). I like to use chunks of cut ballyhoo and a plain hook. Just through to the school and hold on!
But what really turns me on is the site of that bull leaping from the water 50 yards from my bait and streaking on an intercept course straight for them! WHAM! The rod bends double and the drag starts screaming! If that doesn't turn you on - nothing will!
Are you a dolphin fishermen? Know someone who is, or has a story to tell? Tell me about it or post on the bulletin board page. Got a favorite recipe, or fish story? Let me know by sending me an Email.