Dolphin (Mahi - Mahi) are one of the fastest
growing fish and are thought to live about five years. They are normally found offshore in
warm water like the gulfstream. "Schoolies" are small dolphin that range from
one to ten pounds and travel in schools. "Bulls" are large male dolphin and
"cows" are large females. Dolphin normally begin showing up in the offshore
waters of the Keys in mid to late April.
Choice of bait is important, but when dolphin
are hungry, they will bite almost anything. Sometimes the local bait houses still have
fresh ballyhoo this time of year which is the bait of choice. If you can't find fresh
bait, don't worry because they bite frozen bait (thawed) almost as well and will even bite
artificial lures such as "Billy Baits". A "Billy Bait" rigged with a
ballyhoo is a great combination. Many captains also put colorful "skirts"
(plastic item that comes in various colors) on their baits. The wise captain will troll
multiple baits rigged in different fashions. For example, you may want to troll one
ballyhoo "naked", a second with a pink skirt, a third rigged with a "Billy
Bait" and an artificial lure as a fourth bait. Once you get a couple hits, you'll
figure out what the choice bait is for the day and rig your others to match. Tackle size
of course is the preference of the angler. We suggest 20 lb. tackle and recommend a leader
of about 8 feet.
|Between April and August, finding dolphin is not
to difficult. You will generally find them in 400 to 800 ft. of water. Once you are off
the reef (about 5-7 miles offshore), keep a watchful eye for birds that seem to be
congregating in an area. If you can't find birds, look for sargasso grass (weed) that has
formed a line. Weed lines and floating debris such as tree trunks, pieces of rope, and
buckets are another favorite hangout for dolphin. If things are really going your way,
you'll find birds feeding around your weedline or debris. Once you have spotted birds or
debris, head straight for it. When your within about 150 yards, back down to a very slow
troll to get your baits in the water. Once you have them in, pick up your trolling speed
to a good clip (about 6 knots), but don't let your baits "surf". Make sure they
aren't spinning either. If your trolling a weed line, stay off just enough to avoid
fouling your lines.
If there are fish at this spot ,
you will have hooked at least one already. If its a nice size fish, enjoy the fight and
get em to the boat. If it is a schoolie, keep the fish on the line and get it near the
boat. Leave it in the water, and more often than not, you'll soon see all of its schoolie
buddies circling around. Let the other anglers throw out some cut bait on a light rig .
Next thing you know, everyone on the boat will have caught a fish or two. While you have
that school around, one person may want to put a whole ballyhoo on some 20 pound tackle
and cast it away from the boat. Let that bait sink to a depth of 30 to 40 feet. You may
just find yourself a slammer.
Enjoy your fishing but after you have caught
your dinner, which hopefully is less than the legal limit, fish for the big boys and
release them when you get em to the boat (after the pictures).
Airport Road (across Mc Donalds), Simpson Bay