Outdoors

Be patient angling for dolphin

Deckhand Alex Bell assists Chris Murphy from Marietta, Ga., with a 40-pound bull dolphin he caught with SeaSquared Charters.
Deckhand Alex Bell assists Chris Murphy from Marietta, Ga., with a 40-pound bull dolphin he caught with SeaSquared Charters.

We're experiencing a nice September offshore run of dolphin and tuna.

Each day is a little different in terms of quantity and size of the dolphin but the one common denominator is the weeds. It may take some time but if you find a sufficient amount of weeds, you'll find the dolphin. Most are in the eight- to ten-pound range, but there are also good numbers of 20- to 30-pound slammers thrown in for good measure.

The grass patches and floating debris are holding abundant numbers of tripletail, which have been fairly aggressive and relatively easy to catch.

If you have a hankering for sushi, there are loads of blackfin and skipjack tuna for the taking. They average five to 16 pounds but we've seen a few blackfins pushing 20 and more.

The fish are out a bit further than the dolphin. Just look for frigate birds and they'll lead you to the big schools of tuna.

The tunas are chasing flying fish, which are blueish in color. To imitate the flying fish, try trolling any kind of lure or bait with the color blue. Or throw live baits, such as pilchards, in front of the schools, which will get them busting behind your boat.

On the reef, the yellowtail snapper fishing remains very good. Early in the morning or late in the evening is best for the bigger 'tails, with 45 to 70 feet the magic depth range.

Should your yellowtails quit biting by mid-morning, move on to the patch reefs in 20 to 30 feet of water. You'll be able to hunt down legal-size yellowtail in the 12- to 13-inch class if you're looking to fill a limit.

There's a scattering of mangrove snapper mixed in with the yellowtails as well as plenty of cero mackerel, which are taking live ballyhoo. Just make sure to use the lightest wire possible for the mackerel, No. 2 or No. 3.

The week's best

The SeaSquared boats bounced around between the reef and offshore. On the reef, our anglers caught yellowtails and cero mackerel.  Offshore, they enjoyed some epic dolphin and tuna fishing with tripletail mixed in.

Capt. Moe Mottice and his Lucky Fleet in Key West report great offshore fishing for blackfin and skipjack tuna, wahoo and dolphin. The reefs and wrecks held nice snappers and gropers, with cut shrimp and bonita the baits of choice. In Key West Harbor, there are still some tarpon taking shrimp trash, with mangroves and sharks mixed in.

Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters in Marathon. You can reach him at (305) 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.

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