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I had a full day split charter today. 5 people sharing the boat. Our main target species was dolphin. The dolphin fishing has been generally good this summer, but the water is getting warmer and it is getting late in the season. Usually, the fish start moving out deeper by August. That seems to be what’s going on. Inshore, most of the dolphin are very small. “Throwbacks” as we call them. Every so often, you get a keeper, but you have to weed through a bunch of undersized fish to get one “keeper” and even then, the “keepers” are not large.

The better fish are out deep. Out around the “Wall”. That’s about 17 miles south of Key West. There is still a lot of Sargasso weed to fish, both inshore and offshore, but you have to find the “right” weed line or patch. Not all of them have fish under them.

So we headed southwest and offshore. looking for weed or debris to fish. We found the weed, but there was not a lot of dolphin around. We got a couple “keepers” off a large patch of Sargasso weed in 850 ft of water and threw a couple back before heading further south looking for more fish and weed. I trolled out to about 2,500 ft of water.

We were approximately 28 miles Southwest of Key West and started working another sargasso weed line. We lost a nice dolphin on a jump. It just happens sometimes, but we could have used that fish. It was getting late and we did not have a lot of fish.

I trolled east on the weed line when I spotted a boat just north of me. They were fishing a large piece of debris. Even small debris can hold fish. This large piece of debris looked like a big piece of a mangrove tree. its roots were sticking up in the air. A piece of debris this big can hold a ton of fish. Unfortunately, there was another boat on it. Some boats would try to “push” their way in to fish it. Not the way I fish. You find it, you fish it. If I had found it first, I would block any other boat from coming in to fish it. I’ve done it in the past.

Large piece of floating debris found offshore while dolphin fishing on the Southbound

We circled around the debris and other boat staying about 100yds off. That was far enough away that I would not interfere with their fishing. I don’t know how long the other boat was there. I watched them catch a few and then leave. Maybe it had a lot of fish on it and they had a box full or maybe it only had a few and they got what they needed. Either way, they moved off the debris shortly after we got there.

We trolled over to the debris and hooked a “keeper” dolphin right away. There was a big swirl on one of the other baits and we saw the fin of a shark break the surface. A few seconds later the deep troll went off and started screaming line. I was hoping it was a Wahoo, but it really didn’t run as fast as a wahoo would. It did pull enough line that we were certain it was a big fish.


My angler fought the fish for about 35-40 minutes. it turned out to be a Dusky Shark. I would “guesstimate” the size to be 180-200lbs. It was one of the “prettiest” sharks I’ve ever seen. The shark was a copper-bronze color. It really stood out in the dark blue ocean water.

Dusky sharks are protected and we didn’t want to take it anyway. So after everyone got the pictures they wanted, we cut the leader and let it go. The hook should rust out in a week or so.

We headed home. We only caught 5 keeper dolphin, but that was enough to feed my 5 customers. Everyone was smart enough to enjoy the spectacular weather, calm seas and seeing an impressive shark. That and a fresh fish dinner made another good day