This weekend was to be a long awaited trip to Marathon Florida to fish the Keys for dolphin. The morning of the trip I received a phone call from Bob with bad news that they would have to cancel the trip due to a sudden family medical emergency. Bob urged me to use the room if the money paid could not be returned. So I opted to invite my two sons Dave and Matt on the trip. We however got a late start, as my truck started to cough and spit. After delivering it to the Ford dealer and being told that it needed plugs and wires for a cost of 500.00$ I proceeded to do the work myself with help from Matt. Matt and I changed the wires and plugs in an hour and we were on our way to learn about dolphin.
Friday morning we woke to a nice stiff 14 mph breeze. I was determined to go out and try it. so we went out into the Atlantic from Grassy Key past the reef to about 7 miles. We set out four lines with top water and subsurface trolling lures. The swells ranged from 4 to 6 feet. It was rough enough to make Dave a little green. I continued trolling east into the wind looking for anything that might hold fish. we were in 175 ft when out first hit came. Matt took the rod and I reeled in the others. Matt fought the fish for some time and it put up a nice battle. We were surprised to see a nice black fin tuna. I gaffed him and took some pictures then into the box for supper. I learned that we could not successfully troll 4 rods flat lined behind the boat. I could troll 3 , 2 farther back
on the outboard rails with the center rod shorter in the prop wash. We trolled for about 4 more hours and caught a Bonita and lost two more hits. We did find some weeds at about 250 ft of water and saw birds. under the birds we saw some very colorful fish of which I got to chase a Yozuri but no hits. David was not looking good so I headed inshore where we did a little snorkeling and then some cuda fishing on the inside. We caught about 10 small cudas on Yozuris and I lost a very large one after it kicked my butt on the 3rd run. We ended the day with tuna on the grill. We did go out shopping where I learned from a local that the dolphin were hitting trolled ballyhoos “naked” . So I purchased some rigged ballyhoos “naked” ( a package of 3 )
Saturday morning , David stayed at camp after the seasickness yesterday. Matt and I took some Dramamine and started trolling at 8 miles out in 200ft. My goal today was to keep going deeper until something happened. At 250ft I started to notice more birds, lots of flying fishes, and a more defined weed line. I trolled two lures and one “naked” ballyhoo. the Hoo was in the prop wash, it was hit first and was very exciting to watch. the fish followed it in the top of the waves and nailed it but threw the hook. one hoo gone. Second hit was on the hoo again and we where delighted to fight in a nice 4 lb dolphin. The hoos were working , so I only trolled 2 rods to make it more efficient on the reeling in of lines during a fight. After working in and out of the weeds we ended up with 4 dolphins in the boat. Matt and I felt that we might be getting the hang of this . We ended at noon in about 300ft . and we were out of bait . I did have some unrigged hoos but when I tried to rig them they would spin in the water and not get hits. So we decided to go back into the dock and locate Dave to get some more baits and take him out for the afternoon bite. So after a nice lunch and a shower , Dave took some pills for seasickness and we set out to see if the last trip out was just a lucky thing.
Things started up very fast as we saw much more bird activity and each pass along the weeds we caught a dolphin. And we even got some schoolies to stay around the boat while keeping a hooked fish in the water as I had read about. When I threw chum out they would swarm it. We did find out that they were not that easy to catch near the boat , Maybe my chunked bait was not fresh enough or they could see my line. Anyway we did manage to catch a few that way. What was most impressive about this type of fishing was the colors of the fishes. the dolphins were bright green, yellow and gold with blue tipped fins and blue dotted dorsal fins. If you can open up the attached photos we tried to get the colors for everyone to see. But the photos don’t even do them justice as they lost their colors immediately after leaving the water. Oh and these fish jump. they fight very hard. At about 6 PM in about 450 ft of water Matt got a hit that really put him to the test. He fought the dolphin as it jumped and jumped. This was our largest of the weekend and he did a great job moving around the boat in rough seas and keeping his footing while Dave snapped photos and I manned the gaff. I attempted to gaff the fish four times. I am not very
experienced with a gaff so this was good for me. The fish once boated weight about 30 – 35 lbs. and Matt was cooked after that one. He was so excited that he held the fish up while it bled all over his shirt and shorts. Those were tossed at the end of the day for sure. Dave ended up with some great action shots and even one that has the fish in the air. Saturday night dinner , Mahi Mahi on the grill!!!!!! And now I know how to catch Dolphin. We ended up with a total of 1 black fin tuna, 9 dolphin, 2 Bonitas, many cudas and one Cormorant bird. Yes I did manage to have a bird on the line. I think this may be an annual trip for me as I really enjoyed the big waters , colorful fish, and the new type of fishing and the possibilities of anything hitting our lines.
Enjoy the pictures!