The Big Boys

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I know, I know, try to focus.   June is another month that the options are just too numerous for the ADD afflicted angler to stand.  Between the snapper spawns on the reef, the tarpon migration inshore and the big dolphin tearing it up offshore, it is enough to make you sit in a corner and weep. But time to pull up your big boy pants and make a decision, so it is going to be chasing big dolphin.  There are opportunities to get on the rest of the mentioned species for the next few months but this is the month that has traditionally brought the best chance of landing a super slammer dolphin.  There is no one universally approved size that makes a dolphin a super as opposed to a regular slammer.  I have chosen to go with a fifty pound and up fish to draw the magical line in the sand for my own definition. The FUNYET has two fifty-five pounders and a sixty-six under its proverbial belt and the sixty-six was probably over seventy when it hit the deck.  It was gut gaffed and did not quite fit into the fish box and to add insult to injury the angler REALLY did not appreciate the uniqueness of the catch.  I was chomping at the bit to get the fish to an official weigh station however the angler insisted on stopping at Looe Key on the way home for a little snorkeling. (insert frowney face). That particular fish now resides on my wall.  I seldom push clients to mount their fish however I am more than happy to oblige if there is an interest.  This fish was an exception.    I suggested that it was certainly a once in a lifetime fish and it deserved a place on the wall to be immortalized.  The angler declined and it was eventually brought in to the scales at Dolphin Marina where it attracted quite a crowd.  The crowd almost in unison was in disbelief that it was not destined for a wall and the angler got the message and placed the order along with a deposit on the mount.   To finish a long story, a few weeks later the angler gave me a call and stated that he really had no interest in the mount and offered it to me for the balance due to the taxidermist. The other fifty-five pound fish had pretty good timing and placed first in the Lower Keys Dolphin for Youth Tournament that later became the Big Pine Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce Tournament. What I learned from these big fish is that big dolphin prefer to eat little dolphin.  The sixty-six actually attacked a schoolie on the line and failing to get that fish down settled for a dead ballyhoo as a consolation prize.  The other fish had schoolie fish in the process of being digested.  The schoolies were large enough to have their tails sticking out of the supper’s mouths and the big boys still had the appetite to chase down trolled baits. While it is true that elephants eat peanuts it is also true that wolves eat deer.  Bottom line is that if you want to target the big boys, it is good to have something that will attract their attention.  Match the hatch so to speak.  With the size limit on dolphin being twenty inches, it is difficult to find live schoolies to use for bait, however in order to stay out of trouble you will need to get as small as possible without going under.  An easier option is to troll a horse ballyhoo with a green and yellow skirt to simulate a schoolie and save the time and energy of finding a suitable live specimen.  Artificial baits intended for marlin have also taken quite a few of the big boys. When fishing a floater for dolphin and wahoo; and you have trolled past several times without a hit, have dropped your downrigger as deep as it will go, and the bites are not happening; it is a good time to drop a live bait deep.  I like to stop on the structure. You know the type with every kind of bait on it: small jacks, triggerfish, chubs and small schoolies of course.   I like to drop as large of a bait as I have into the well.  A palm sized pinfish does quite well.  I use twelve feet of sixty pound fluorocarbon and drop the bait at least two hundred feet.  I then very slowly bring it back up through the water column.  You would be surprised how many times you can find a really big boy down there. The big boys do come through and they are hungry.  They did not get that big being either careless or finicky. Get your bait in the water and invest the time and one of these biguns can make an appearance on your wall. If you have ever caught a trophy fish that you later wished you had mounted, it is a simple process to have a replica mount made and delivered.


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