Today, aboard the Keeping It Reel, we had an awesome day out there. I started off catching some live ballyhoos. I started bumping them around got a kingfish on the downrigger bait pretty quick. We put everything back out, and nothing for almost an hour and a half. Pretty discouraged, I started bumping over toward the closest shipwreck with my spread of baits still out. I’m training a new captain right now, so I was in deep conversation about showing him the ranges for this wreck when I see something that just doesn’t look right out of peripheral vision.
I turn my head and I see a dolphin (mahi-mahi), flip his tail out of the water, right where my right short bait used to be. I yelled down to the cockpit, “Josh, right short!! Big dolphin”. Josh grabbed the rod and freespooled it for half a minute. He yelled up, “Let’s try him,” he locked it up and started winding. The fish broke water as soon as he came tight. It was pretty far out, so I couldn’t see if it was a cow or a bull, but it looked pretty big.
Cow dolphin usually get to the baits first. Bulls have a lot of water to push with that huge blunt head and usually get to the baits a little after the cows get there. I kept a close eye on the other baits, but nothing was happening, so we concentrated on fighting the one we had on the line. It was getting closer to the boat now, and we could tell it was a nice cow, about a 20 pounder. It was almost invisible, but I saw the glow of blue about 10 feet trailing behind the cow. It was a bull and it was a big one. Both fish were off our port side, the cow on the line and bull trailing free right behind it.
I still had a couple live ballyhoos out of the riggers, so I had Josh wind one up close to the boat. Both fish swam within feet of the live ‘hoo and the bull didn’t even look at it. I pitched out a live pilchard and still, he wouldn’t eat. One of the customers threw out chunk of ballyhoo, again no luck. The cow went for a couple more runs and the bull just faded away. We didn’t see him for a long time, so I said ok, boat the cow. Josh stuck a gaff in it and threw it in the box. It was a very nice cow, probably a 20 pounder or so. I went down into the cockpit to pose for a quick photo when the captain I was training yells from the bridge, “There he is! Right on top, 20 feet back. It’s the bull.” I ran up the ladder and by the time I got up, Josh was freespooling the right long. We had never brought it in the entire fight of the cow.
When Josh came tight on the bull, the fish jumped like blue marlin. This fish grey hounded on the surface and threw a wake. This was a huge dolphin. I guessed him a 50 pounds on the first jump. It was a slob. The angler was this tall dude from Canada and wow, did this fish put a hurting on him. He battled this fish for 5 minutes. This fish took this guy from one side of the boat, to the other, and back again repeatedly. The fish would be coming in easy for a few minutes and then go on a sick, rampaging run that ended with 2 grey hounds and a somersault. The most brutal part of the whole fight was that we only had him on a 20 Shimano TLD. I’ll tell you what, that little reel can hold it’s own. The customer even remarked how nice that little reel held up to that huge fish. That dolphin put the angler through the fish fight of a lifetime and what a great show.
We finally got the fish within gaff range, and just to make sure we got the fish in the boat perfectly, I ran down and stuck him myself. Josh ran over with the bat and put him down. Cheers, Hoots and Hollers, Horrays all around. It was a HUMONGOUS dolphin. It was not my personal biggest, but definetly ONE OF my biggest dolphin that I’ve ever caught. We stopped at Lauderdale Marina and weighed the fish. Their scale said he weighed 41 pounds, but wow did he look 50. The fish has a Huge head on him as you can see in these photos. Anyway, the dolphin fishing is awesome right now, so if you’re looking for one of the most fun, best eating and coolest gamefish, come down for some Fort Lauderdale fishing action with Fishing Headquarters.