Fishing was not red hot today, much of the Sargasso weed we have been seeing seems to be drifting out of the area slowly. We didn’t catch a lot of fish in terms of numbers, but we did get a very big bull dolphin early in the day.
Today started out a bit unusual. We had a relatively cool but gentle north wind in the morning. Usually, our wind is out of the south or east this time of year and to be honest, a north wind isn’t what we want. It can shut the fishing down.
I was intending to head out deep. Probably fish out by the “wall” or “dropoff”. That’s about 17 miles south of Key West where the bottom drops suddenly from about 900 ft deep to 1,500 ft deep over a quarter mile. It has been where the best of the dolphin fishing has been. We had a full day, so there was plenty of time to work our way out and cover a lot of water.
As I was running out, I came across a small area with some decent sized patches of Sargasso weed. Over the last week or so, these inshore patches have been holding some fish, so I figured it would be worth spending a few minutes trolling around them to see if “anyone was home”.
The 1st patch I went by did not produce any bites, but the second one did. We hooked two fish. One was a small bull dolphin about 10lbs and the other was a smaller fish that got off. I wished we had gotten them both, but at least we had one decent fish in the boat. The 1st fish is always the toughest and”We were on the scoreboard” early. I figured it was a good start.
The other patches of Sargasso weed didn’t have any dolphin on them so after about 30 minutes, I started trolling south toward the dropoff. We only got a few hundred yards from the weed when we got another bite. Neither I nor my mate saw the fish bite, but he could tell when he hooked it up that it was a big fish. At first, we thought it might be another billfish. We caught a sailfish in the same depth yesterday. We thought that until it jumped, then we knew, we had a big bull dolphin on!
The fish was hooked up on a 30 lb setup. Plenty big enough for a fish that big, but you have to earn it. My angler was a good fisherman and in good shape and it’s a good thing. He fought that fish for close to an hour. The angler has caught Sailfish with me in the past and they are a fantastic fish to catch. Today he learned that pound for pound, a 40lb dolphin is much tougher than a 40lb sailfish. Both are fantastic fish, but dolphin are powerful fish. A big bull dolphin is really tough.
After boating the Big bull dolphin we knew we could not have a bad day, but we did have a lot of time left and headed off looking for more fish. The rest of the day was fairly quiet. We did catch about 7-8 other dolphin and a couple of bonitos, but to be honest, the big bull dolphin was the highlight of the day.
I called it 40+lbs on the radio. When I tell the other boats about a fish we caught, I try very hard not to overstate the size of a fish. I don’t’ want “that” reputation. The one where the 25lb fish on the boat turns into a 17lb fish on the scale. I’d rather be 5 lbs under that 1 lb over. We do this for a living, we should be able to “guesstimate” pretty close. This fish was 42lbs on my scale at the dock. I missed it by 2 lbs, but that was close enough for me