Fishing

Dolphin bite exploding right now

Capt. Alex Bell of Marathon caught this 34.5-pound bull dolphin while on a fishing trip with friends. They were trolling marlin lures too large for the schoolies to eat.
Capt. Alex Bell of Marathon caught this 34.5-pound bull dolphin while on a fishing trip with friends. They were trolling marlin lures too large for the schoolies to eat.

Put the paper down, get in the boat and head out for some of the best dolphin fishing we’ve experienced in quite a while.

It’s a free-for-all out there right now. There’s the occasional slammer dolphin, but it’s primarily schoolie-size fish. Lots and lots of them. And you don’t need to go far to find a piece of floating debris, a weed line or birds working the surface of the water (all signs of dolphin activity). Once you locate a spot with fish, trolling, chunk baits and live baits are all working.

If you choose to troll lures, blue and white or blue and silver are the best color combinations, with pink and white or anything in the pink scheme a close second. There is an abundance of flying fish around, and the blue and silver combo is the closest match to their color.

There have been good amounts of small to midsize blackfin tuna plus some skipjacks in the mahi mix. If you’re looking to put tuna in the fish box, seek out the largest packs of birds — 20 to 30 thick — as this often indicates surface-feeding fish.

Be sure to put your lures at least double, and possibly triple, the length behind your boat as you would normally troll for dolphin. Also, throwing speed jigs into the schools of breaking tuna and retrieving the lure quickly back to you typically produces jarring strikes.

Inshore, the mutton snapper are biting when the conditions are good, and there are still plenty of amberjack to be had on the wrecks.

We’ve noticed a slight decrease in the reef action, but this is typical when coming off a full moon. But this is merely temporary, and the fishing should rebound by this weekend. The best action for medium-size yellowtail snapper in the 13- to 16-inch class is in the 50- to 70-foot depths.

We’re still seeing only a scattering of mangrove snapper on the reef edge. Again, with the passing of the full moon, this fishery should become quite good as well.

At the bridges, the tarpon bite remains pretty good. Check with your local tackle shop for what works in your area. This is probably the last couple of weeks before they start to disperse, so get in on this action now.

Florida Bay has plenty of sharks for great entertainment, mostly blacktips, spinners and lemons, with the occasional bull and hammerhead. The best areas are around the banks and bridges.

The week’s best

The SeaSquared got in on the awesome dolphin action with many of our groups this week. Limits of schoolies came back to the docks with regularity. On the reef and wreck areas, our guests caught yellowtails, muttons and black groupers. Fishing in Florida Bay produced catch-and-release shark and barracuda fun as well as delicious mangroves.

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

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