Our main plan was to go dolphin fishing today, but we started out inshore looking for a couple of quick bites. A couple of my customers had never caught a barracuda. So I went to one of the wrecks near Key West. We slow trolled around for a bit to see if we could catch them a big barracuda. We went to the Vandenberg.
The Vandenberg is a 600 ft wreck that sits in 140 ft of water approximately 6 miles Sout East of Key West. It is very popular with divers. That can be a problem when you are trying to get in close to the wreck to catch a Barracuda. The last thing I want to do is hook a diver. They probably don’t fight very hard and you have to throw them all back. We went to the Vandenberg first thing so we could get our fish before the dive boats got there. We ended up with 2 nice barracudas. Cross barracuda off the bucket list.
After fishing around the wreck for a few minutes, we headed offshore to go dolphin fishing. We were mainly looking for dolphin, but we would take whatever wanted to bite. The general rule is if you find the Dolphin, you will have a chance at a Tuna, Wahoo or Billfish. They all eat the same thing as Dolphin and the Wahoo and Billfish eat Dolphin.
There is a massive amount of Sargasso weed in the waters around Key West. There has been so for months. Something has made the Sargasso weed grow much more prolifically than normal. While Sargasso weed is good in the summer. it creates habitat for small fish, crabs, and other critters, we usually only have to deal with it in the spring and summer. This year, it has been everywhere all winter long. It can make it very difficult to fish when you are trolling. The 1st mate is constantly having to clear the weed off the baits. This year it’s a non-stop job.
Today was no different. There was row after row of Sargasso weed. At times we could troll between the lines, but that would only last for a few hundred yards and the baits would get all weeded up again. We could find areas without any weed, but the Dolphin are usually swimming below the weed looking to feed on the little fish, crabs, and critters I mentioned. So when you are dolphin fishing, you have to troll close to the weed to increase your chances of catching fish.
We ended up with 7 keeper dolphin. the biggest was about 15lbs. Not a monster, but a nice fish any day. It was the biggest dolphin my customer had ever caught. which made her happy. We also caught our biggest Barracuda offshore. Barracudas tend to congregate around the wrecks and reefs, but they have tails and swim where they want. They can be caught anywhere from 10 ft of water near the islands or 1.000 ft of water offshore