The Harbor Club from NYC came to visit us again to do some fishing. Charlie (Chief), Yalkin, Frankie, and Richard booked us for 2 days. As always, they relayed that they would not be arriving before 9AM. Yalkin absolutely refuses to do anything earlier than that. They arrived at The BEAST around 9:30 and by the time we loaded everyone and their gear it was almost 10. I turned The BEAST out and we made way to pick up our bait for the day.
We arrived at a hardtail spot and picked up about 6 baits then hit another spot and picked up another half dozen. I pushed down on the throttles to head for a ballyhoo patch. The ballyhoo have made their way into our area in great numbers and are not wise to the bait collecting process yet. They came up pretty easy considering the sun was high in the sky. We hook and lined about 2 dozen quickly. I broke out the 10í Calusa cast net and captured about 4-5 dozen on the first throw and another 2 dozen on the second toss. Thatís plenty of baits for this day. We motored out to the blue water to begin the hunt.
Devon put out a 5 line spread with 4 up and 1 down. I slow trolled the baits on the edge but nothing was happening. I decided to head out into deeper water and within minutes we got covered up with some school sized Dolphin. We boxed the good sized fish and this scenario played out another time or two. We were working the 3rd barrage when I saw a big cow come into the meleeí. She was attacking the smaller fish, although Iím not sure if she was actually trying to eat them or eat the baits that were hanging out of their mouths. Devon grabbed a ballyhoo and tossed it in front of her but she ignored it. He quickly changed up and pinned a small blue runner onto the hook and tossed it out to her. Her antics were frantic and she dismissed the runner as well. This went on for about 5 minutes and then she disappeared. As Devon reorganized the cockpit to set out another spread I drifted the runner bait about 30 feet from the boat. There she is! She swooped in and ate the bait. I free lined her for 5 seconds, engaged the reel, and handed it off to Richard. Sheís on! 30 seconds and 2 jumps later she is off. Oh yeah, thatís not frustrating. As Devon was putting out the new spread I saw a flash behind the mid bait. I focused my attention there and sure enough she is back. Devon baits her with another small runner and she teases us by charging it and then retreating. Suddenly she just charges in and grabs the bait and Devon let the reel free line. She was peeling line off and after a good run off we decided to see if she had the hook deep enough to result in a solid hook up. Devon engaged the reel. Boom! Sheís on Bruddah! He hands the reel to Richard again and this time she is hooked up tight. In the meantime we had a couple more decent school fish come in and eat. We were sizing up the Cow and guessing it to be somewhere around 20 pounds. She was spent and reluctantly came to the boat where Devon put the steel to her. As he pulled the fish over the side she just kept growing. The tail finally crossed the gunwale and we couldnít believe her size. This fish was large for a cow dolphin. We took some measurements after we settled down. She was over 49Ē long and pulled the scale down to 35 pounds. NICE!
We proceeded through the rest of the afternoon with waves of dolphin coming into the spread. We also caught a couple of Silky sharks and the Chief managed to get a nice young Bull of 15 pounds as well. The day finished up with a tally of 10 very nice Dolphin in the box.
Days 2 was a complete opposite of Day 1, on & off, the yin & yang. The guys arrived real late, about 10:30, which definitely started us off on the wrong foot. We managed to get bait but it was quite a bit tougher than the previous day. Against our recommendations, they wanted to do some wreck fishing. I warned them that it is quite late in the season to try and wrestle AJís. The first wreck we went to showed nothing. OK, letís try a Mutton Snapper spot instead. The first drop produced a Barracuda. On the next 2 drifts we got hooked up to what seemed to be some decent Muttons but they got sharked about half way up to the surface. A couple more drifts had the same uneventful results. I convinced them to go back to live baiting the surface to see if we could muster up some more dolphin that day. We managed to miss a couple of mackerel bites but that was it for the remainder of the afternoon. That was a really sad result for Day 2. Starting so late and wanting to fish for species that are not really in season, does not make for a great day. If you want to have a busy successful trip, it is best to let the charter crew do what they do bestÖ catch fish!
Our fall/winter fishing is one of my favorites. November through early December is a great time for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) passing through our waters while heading for their winter staging areas. The Mackerels (King and Cero) will be moving onto the reefs and drop-offs during that time as well. Our prime Sailfish season is about to get under way and battling these gamesters on 20# spinning tackle is hard to beat. One thing is for sureÖ You canít catch fish from the living room couch! Quit watching TV fishing show reruns, get out of the house, and letís go fishing!