This was Day for the group I had on board today. They fished on Thursday and we caught 3 nice Black Fin Tuna and released a sailfish and lost another. Not a ton of bites but some quality fish and 3 nice Black Fin tuna actually is a lot of fish to take home. So after a brief discussion on the dock, we decided to go for the Gusto on day 2 and head offshore looking for, hopefully, Mahi, (dolphin) and whatever else was out there.
So I ran to 300 ft of water and pointed the boat south. It was my intention to get pretty far offshore today unless something, like a bunch of fish, stopped me! We had a few bites going south but never bent a rod on anything until we got out to about 750 ft of water. The deep troll on the Starboard side went off and the rod bent over big time. A few seconds later, a beautiful sailfish came jumping out of the water about 200 yards behind the boat. When a Sailfish is jumping, it is both good and bad. It’s good because all that effort makes the fish tired quicker. The Bad part is that when it is jumping, flipping, or tailwalking there is a greater chance of getting slack line and the hook pulling out.
This fish jumped quite a bit, but it was too far back to get any quality video or pictures, unfortunately. It was a good-sized sailfish. The angler was about 6 ft tall and the fish was longer than him. He did a good job fighting the fish and we had it boatside in under 10 minutes! After a few moments of “photo ops” we released the Sailfish to fight another day. We only had one fish so far, but it was the best fish of the day among the fleet.
I turned the boat back to the South, still looking for anything that would hold fish. I was hoping for weed patches like we found yesterday, or maybe a piece of debris, but I really wasn’t seeing much. Finally, in 900 ft of water, we found a small weed line. Small lines are referred to as “Shoe Strings”. Big wide weed lines of Sargasso are better. This was a small thin line of Baygrass, but it was the only thing I had seen that might hold fish.
I started following it west. It was easier to see and it was downsea, so a more comfortable ride. The line was full of Debris, which is bad from an ecological standpoint, but good from a fishing standpoint. Anything floating will grow barnacles and algae. That brings small shrimp, crabs, and fish. That brings slightly larger baitfish and THAT brings bigger fish. So when a fisherman finds a log or pallet or tarp floating, we recognize ti may not be good for the health of the ocean, but it does help us catch fish.
As soon as we turned on the Shoe String Weed line, we hooked 2 small Dolphin. One got off and the other was too small to keep, but it made me very optimistic as we went west. We covered a lot of ground going west and didn’t get many more bites. I found some debris that should have had fish, but it didn’t, it was starting to get me nervous. At one point a school of very tiny dolphins came jumping through the pattern of baits. I thought they were going to attack our baits even though they were too small to hook. They didn’t touch a thing, but suddenly there was a big swirl on my long rigger bait, and a large billfish swatted at it. It didn’t knock the bait out of the clip and never hit another line.
Nice Dolphin caught on The Southbound in Key West, Florida
It looked too big for a Sailfish, I thought it was a blue marlin and he was chasing the school of tiny dolphins that ran through our pattern. Unfortunately, it wanted the little dolphin more than our rigged ballyhoo. That’s the way it goes some days and that’s why billfish are so special. They ain’t easy!
We worked the area for a while hoping “Mr. Blue” would come back for a snack, but after a while, I headed west again along the Weed line. We had a few more bites from some Small “throwback” dolphin until we came to a group of lobster floats with an algae-covered ln hanging way down in the water………..and it was holding fish!
It wasn’t “loaded” but I did not hear of any other boat catching dolphin today. We caught 7 Keepers on that piece of debris. The biggest one was about 10 lbs.
It was getting late and we were still close to 20 miles south of Key West and the little shoestring weed line ended. I turned back to the north hoping for more fish. I found some more weed in about 700 ft and worked it for a while with no success. we did catch and release a bonito in 500 feet, but that was the only bite we had on the way in. To be honest, I was hoping for more, but it is November. Very late in the year for dolphin. I think we were the only boat that caught any although there were not a lot of boats out deep looking. My group was happy. 7 keepers and a sailfish release and some of them got to see what I believe was a Blue Marlin.
Some days you just have to go for the Gusto. I’m just glad it worked
Another good day!!
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